11 October 2012 - White paper for children a move in the right direction but what counts now is action

The Government’s White Paper for Vulnerable Children, released today, is a move in the right direction towards better outcomes for children. However, provision of support for children should be universal as well as targeting particularly vulnerable children.

Save the Children recommends that the New Zealand Government makes the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which New Zealand has ratified, the starting point for assessing and addressing child vulnerabilities.

“New Zealand already reports every five years to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. It makes sense that the UNCRC be used as the basis and evaluative measure to gauge the general wellbeing of our children,” said Save the Children’s chief executive, Liz Gibbs.

“We would like to see the government developing a clear, child-focused, cross-party reporting framework that is a long-term approach to improve outcomes for all children,” she said.

In its submission to government on the earlier Green Paper, Save the Children acknowledged that while extra targeted support for vulnerable children is needed, universal support is vital to give all children and young people in New Zealand the best chance in life.

“It’s encouraging to see that the White Paper reflects some of the consultation undertaken by Government. We welcome plans for further consultation with non-government organisations, communities and importantly – children and young people themselves.

“Because there are both social and economic implications for wider society in not respecting children’s rights it’s what happens next that will really make the difference. A clear picture of vulnerable children, strong leadership, and an action plan for children that is monitored and reviewed against the recommended obligations under the UNCRC – these are what will really count when it comes to improving, and saving vulnerable young lives,” said Ms Gibbs.

Save the Children draws on the UNCRC in their work for children. In New Zealand they advocate for services for children and families, and for the protection of child rights – both achievable through policy frameworks that enable a universal approach.

Save the Children New Zealand’s programmes encourage participation from children and young people. Earlier this year, the voices of over 130 young people were heard in a submission on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children.

“If New Zealand wants to see real improvements in children’s lives – and we sorely need to improve our track record for our children – then we need to look after all of them, not just those deemed most vulnerable,” said Ms Gibbs.