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Vulnerable children are everyone’s problem - young people

Vulnerable children are everyone’s problem - young people tell Save the Children New Zealand

23 February 2012

Young representatives working with Save the Children New Zealand handed over the organisation’s submission on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children to new National MP Alfred Ngaro yesterday at parliament.

The group of young students from Bishop Viard College, Naenae College and Scotts College delivered Mr Ngaro with a document that contained the voices of over 130 children and young people from around New Zealand.

Via an online platform and taking recommendations from its 2010 Hear Our Voices consultation as a starting point, Save the Children New Zealand had asked children and young people what issues they wanted the government to address when it came to looking after New Zealand’s vulnerable children.

It found that 20% of respondents felt the most urgent matter for government to deal with was to give children and young people more of a say on the issues that affected them.

Domestic violence for children, bullying and looking at the connections between gangs, drugs, alcohol and child abuse were also key priorities that young people who engaged with Save the Children said needed addressing.

When asked ‘what is the most important influence’ when it comes to improving the lives of vulnerable children, the majority stated that the ‘family/whanau’ was most critical.

However, when looking at a case study, which reflected a family in crisis, most young respondents said that family life was something that was interconnected with society – rather than solely the result of good or bad parenting. Most also recognised the need for parents to be supported – both economically and with parenting skills – and argued that it was this support that would allow better parenting.

When asked to define a ‘vulnerable child’, not having basic physical needs met, or living in an unsafe family environment were the main themes.

Speaking after meeting with Mr Ngaro, Save the Children New Zealand CEO Liz Gibbs said there were both social and economic implications for not respecting children’s rights.

“It’s essential that things change in New Zealand. We are not doing well by our children and young people.

“However, the Green Paper is this country’s chance to really address some of the critical issues that confront vulnerable children. The voices of our young people need to be carefully considered. Save the Children New Zealand is playing its part in bringing some of these views to attention today,” she said.

National MP Alfred Ngaro, who has held a number of Green Paper meetings throughout Auckland, was pleased to receive the submission from Save the Children and encouraged more New Zealanders to do the same.

“The response to the Green Paper has been outstanding, especially from agencies like Save the Children who work closely with our children and young people.

“But I want to encourage more Kiwis to have a voice on these issues. Your submissions are important because they will inform the writing of a White Paper and a ten year children’s action plan,” he said.

Submissions to the Green Paper, which now exceed 5,800, close Tuesday 28 February and can be made at www.saysomething.org.nz

Notes to Editors

• A copy of Save the Children New Zealand’s submission on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children can be found online at www.savethechildren.org.nz
• Through consultation with over 130 children and young people, Save the Children New Zealand has tabled seven key points for the government to consider as it moves forward with its thinking on vulnerable children in New Zealand:

• Make the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) a starting point for assessing and addressing child vulnerabilities
• Use the UNCRC to agree a common definition of ‘vulnerable children’
• Take the time to understand what works best for our country – the economic and social costs of not getting it right are too significant
• Take a coordinated, child-focused, cross-party and long-term approach to improve outcomes for children
• Provide universal services for all children - but targeted ones for those who need it most
• Invest in the early years of childhood
• Ensure children’s voices are heard in all aspects of policy decision making

• In 2010, Save the Children New Zealand submitted a report called ‘Hear Our Voices’ to the United Nations and New Zealand government, which expressed the views and opinions of children and young people in New Zealand on their own well-being.
• In 2011, Save the Children New Zealand established its own Child and Youth Council, which is a national body of children and young people who provide advice to Save the Children New Zealand on matters related to the well-being of children and young people in New Zealand and actively works towards identifying solutions with us.
• In late 2011, Save the Children New Zealand went live with its Hear Our Voices Values Exchange, a new and safe online platform established to engage children and young people on issues that affect them and to enable them to express their ideas about how individuals, families, whanau, communities, iwi, policy makers and government can make New Zealand a better place for children.


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