The cross party support for the Child Poverty Reduction Bill is a significant step forward for children and young people in Aotearoa-New Zealand.
“It is a great result to have agreement across the House that more needs to be done to ensure all our families can flourish. I think we can speak for all in the children’s advocacy community that this Bill is progressing positively,” says Jeni Cartwright, spokesperson for Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).
Last year more than 30 organisations joined forces in unanimous support for a cross-party commitment to reducing child poverty.
The call to action echoed the resounding words of Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft, who said that “the time is right for all political parties to come together to improve the lives of tens of thousands of children.”
Judge Becroft called for for well-designed legislation that affirms a set of appropriate measures of child poverty and allows each government to set and reach targets for improving children’s wellbeing, and to be held to account.
The draft Child Poverty Reduction Bill was a milestone towards this goal.
CPAG and Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa (ACYA) led a collective of 41 groups and individuals working to promote children’s wellbeing to produce a joint submission on the draft Bill.
The submission set out high level recommendations around data and reporting, and said that a children’s rights-based framework, based upon the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) should underpin a successful child well-being strategy.
“It is so positive that the principles of UNCROC and UNCRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) have been included in the Bill,” says Andrea Jamison, spokesperson for ACYA.
“Both Conventions provide a strong, flexible and enduring framework for improving the wellbeing of all children and young people,” says Jamison. “A rights based approach requires attention to all children and, critically, to what children and young people themselves think about issues that affect them.
“The UN reports regularly on how we are doing in terms meeting those obligations, and we haven’t had the best track record. Embedding rights into our Child Poverty Reduction legislation would be a significant step forward.”
Cross-party support for this legislation is vital to building a society in which all children can have good childhoods, now and in the future.
The Bill emphasises the importance of children being viewed in the context of their families, whānau, hapu and iwi, other culturally recognised family groups, and communities.
“This is consistent with children’s rights and provides the foundation for policy changes that support families and communities and the critical part they play in children’s lives as they grow up ” says Ms Jamison.
“When the depth of the problem is acknowledged, we can move forward in terms of strengthening our society’s foundations so it can truly be a great place to raise children,” says CPAG spokesperson Jeni Cartwright.
“We now look forward to seeing improved and new policies that enable Government to meet its targets for reducing poverty, and that will provide meaningful and sustained relief for families who are currently experiencing the worst of poverty.”
For the full list of organisations who collaborated on the joint sector submission see here.