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Thousands Join Save The Children’s Call To Retain New Zealand’s Children’s Commissioner

More than 6000 Kiwis have joined Save the Children New Zealand’s call to retain the vital role of Children’s Commissioner, as the Government considers a new bill proposing major changes to the office, including the removal of a named Children’s Commissioner.

With just one day to go before public submissions close on the proposed Oversight of Oranga Tamariki System and Children and Young People’s Commission Bill, currently before Select Committee, the child rights organisation has so far received 6221 signatures for its online petition to ‘Save the Children’s Commissioner’. The petition will be presented at parliament when the house resumes in early February.

The proposed bill removes the role of Children’s Commissioner with the authority to report with or without invitation directly to the Prime Minister on behalf of children. Instead, a new Children and Young Person’s Commission is established, run by a Board of between three and six members. Save the Children is also concerned that, despite the proposed bill having an impact on children, tamariki and young people have not been consulted.

"The ground swell of support for our petition, particularly at a time of year when many people are on holiday and relaxing, shows just how much New Zealanders care about saving this champion for the rights of our tamariki," says Save the Children’s Advocacy and Research Director Jacqui Southey.

"For more than 30 years, the Children’s Commissioner has challenged New Zealand to do better for our children and has been a powerful public voice for change on crucial issues, such as children in care and child poverty and any changes to the role should be thoroughly consulted on with children and young people.

"The Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly accords children the right to voice on issues important to them and to have their voices taken into account. The Government has also committed to taking children’s voices into account through the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy. We are calling on the Government to consult with children before this Bill progresses any further."

Save the Children’s petition has three key asks:

1. That the named role of a Children’s Commissioner with a designated term of office is guaranteed in the Oversight of Oranga Tamariki System and Children and Young People’s Commission Bill;

2. That the authority of the Children’s Commissioner is retained in the Bill where the Children’s Commissioner can report directly to the Prime Minister with or without invitation;

3. That the Bill does not progress any further until the Government undertakes a thorough consultation with children to enable them to share their voice on the development of the new Children’s and Young People’s Commission.

Public submissions for the Bill close tomorrow, Wednesday 26 January 2022.

People wanting to sign the petition should go to: https://actnow.savethechildren.org.nz/childrens-commissioner/

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