The Children’s Commissioner is calling on the country to embrace children’s rights to ensure their overall well-being.
“The new Government has declared that ‘if we put child well-being at the heart of what we do, then the well-being of all New Zealanders will be lifted’.” said Judge Andrew Becroft.
“The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child shows us the many different ways that government can influence the well-being of children and young people. We have an opportunity now to cement our approach to child rights.”
The UNCROC Monitoring Group has released a report about how New Zealand is putting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Children’s Convention) into practice, and where it can do better.
The report makes three recommendations that Government can put into place immediately:
• Make sure children’s rights and needs are at the centre of policy and legislative reform. Identify where children’s rights are not being met, what needs to be done, who will do the work, when it will happen and how the work will be monitored.
• Allocate responsibility and resources to coordinate the implementation of the Children’s Convention across government.
• Ensure children and young people’s views are taken into consideration in the development of legislation and policies.
“Children’s voices need to be heard in our country. We are very bad at seeking out their voices, listening to them, factoring them into our decision making and then reporting back to children the decisions made.
“If the practice was ingrained in government departments and community groups, there would be a significant change in the way policy is created here – for example in areas of education, health and housing, and in the way we respond to child poverty.”
Upholding the Children’s Convention can improve the lives of children and young people living in the most difficult circumstances.
“We need to be much more positive about the Convention and what it can do for our children. Yes, 70% of our children do well, and some do outstandingly well. But 20% are struggling, and 10% do as badly, if not worse, than most comparable OECD countries. All our children would benefit significantly from the Convention if fully applied, but especially those whose needs are not being met.”
From 2018, the UNCROC Monitoring Group will publish progress reports focusing on legal and policy developments for children and young people in New Zealand and how those developments align with the principles of the Children’s Convention.