Do­ing more for our kids

Marlborough Express - - COMMENT&OPINION -

Oranga Ta­mariki, the Min­istry for Vul­ner­a­ble Chil­dren, set­ting up an in­de­pen­dent con­nec­tion and ad­vo­cacy ser­vice for chil­dren and young peo­ple in state care, and rais­ing the age of care and pro­tec­tion to 21, with tran­si­tional sup­port up to 25.

This is progress that hasn’t es­caped the at­ten­tion of the United Na­tions, which has been archly and jus­ti­fi­ably crit­i­cal of our fail­ures to live up to our signed-up com­mit­ments for chil­dren’s rights.

Now comes the call, from the UN mon­i­tor­ing group led by NZ’s Chil­dren’s Com­mis­sioner Andrew Be­croft, for the new Gov­ern­ment to im­prove our act fur­ther.

It would be easy to look at the three ar­eas of next-up need iden­ti­fied by the mon­i­tor­ing group and see them as dec­la­ra­tions of the bleed­ing ob­vi­ous.

First, mak­ing sure chil­dren’s rights and needs are the cen­tre of pol­icy and leg­isla­tive re­form. Surely we should al­ready be well down­stream of that level of think­ing and planning, right?

Sec­ond, when we’re ad­dress­ing how to cor­rect fail­ures, be­ing sure to iden­tify who would do the work, when it would hap­pen and how it would be mon­i­tored. How could such a re­minder still be nec­es­sary?

Third im­ple­ment­ing the UN Chil­dren’s Con­ven­tion not only with prop­erly al­lo­cated re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and re­sources, but with co­or­di­na­tion across gov­ern­ment and en­sur­ing chil­dren and young peo­ple’s views are taken into ac­count.

Most of which, let’s face it, sounds like they’re say­ing that the new Vul­ner­a­ble Chil­dren min­istry should act like a min­istry for vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren.

Re­ally, though, Be­croft’s group is es­sen­tially talk­ing about stamina and fol­low-through. We’ve done some good ground­work for progress; but that’s all it is.

It’s say­ing that if we had our act to­gether and were truly fac­tor­ing chil­dren and young peo­ple into the Gov­ern­ment planning that af­fects them – and what doesn’t? – and if we re­ally were tak­ing the trouble to treat them as a le­git­i­mate voice for feed­back be­fore de­ci­sions are made, then we’d be serv­ing them and our whole so­ci­ety much bet­ter than what we’ve been do­ing.

Which has been press­ing on with our own big agen­das, then notic­ing the re­gret­table im­pact on our young, and then work­ing piece­meal to ad­dress these down­stream prob­lems we’ve just cre­ated for them..

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