We advocate for the interests, rights and wellbeing of children and young people

OCC Newsletter: June 2018

News

8 June 2018

Message from the Commissioner

Tēnā tātou katoa

Looking back on nearly two years in the role so far, many positive steps have been taken for children and young people in New Zealand.

  • Seventeen-year-olds will be included in the youth justice system from 1 July 2019, allowing them to be held to account but also have their needs and underlying causes of offending addressed. 
  • The Families Package due to take effect from 1 July will help many New Zealand children get more of the everyday things they need to thrive.
  • And looking further ahead, we have the prospect of child poverty reduction legislation, and with it the chance to aim high for child well-being.

Such legislation, incorporating the obligation on the Government of the day to develop and publish a specific Wellbeing Strategy, was scarcely imaginable even five years ago, and owes much to the courageous and principled voice of the previous Children’s Commissioner, Dr Russell Wills.

This is an exciting time for everyone associated with the child wellbeing sector. We look forward to seeing significant progress on these important issues in the next six months.

Weaving our Strengths Forum

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The OCC, along with the J R McKenzie Trust, recently hosted a forum Weaving our Strengths - Working Together for Child Wellbeing. Coordinated by Inspiring Communities, the day brought together people from NGOs, Government, those experiencing poverty, community, academia, philanthropy and business, to share, learn and build on what’s already happening in the sector as well as create transformative change.

In a media release, the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern said “As part of the Child Poverty Reduction Bill the Government will develop a Child Wellbeing Strategy that outlines how children’s overall wellbeing will be improved.

“Today we’ve begun the crucial process of listening to children and young people and those with a stake in their lives to begin developing the strategy.”

Trans-Tasman cooperation on Bullying-Free Week

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Bullying-Free NZ Week and Pink Shirt Day are important occasions for us to stand together against bullying and encourage children to talk about it if it happens – and encourage adults to listen to them.

Bullying-Free NZ Week 2018 was marked by the launch of Oat the Goat (iPad or PDF), an interactive digital book for children aged 4-7, highlighting the importance of being kind to one another.

This year Andrew Becroft took the Pink Shirt Day message to Perth, at a meeting of the Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians. Colin Pettit, the Commissioner for Children and Young People in Western Australia, put on the Pink Shirt for a good cause and the other Commissioners and Guardians showed their support.

While he was there, the Commissioner provided an opinion piece to the West Australian newspaper on the importance of listening to children. He also spoke to a seminar as part of the Children’s Vulnerability Speaker Series, and he addressed a Western Australia Parliamentary Select Committee with oversight of the WA Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Children from Te Kura o Pipitea, Wellington’s Thorndon School, celebrated Pink Shirt Day with friends from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, the New Zealand Police and the Ministry of Education.

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Education consultation

We support the current Education Conversation | Kōrero Mātauranga about the future of the education system in New Zealand.

Andrew Becroft attended the Education Summit in Christchurch at the start of May. He has been appointed chair of the Education Summit Advisory Group, who are entrusted with making sure the messages from the Summit are heard by all of the 15 different streams within the government’s massive education work programme.

Independent oversight of children's issues and the Oranga Tamariki system

The Government is reviewing how New Zealand provides independent oversight of children's issues and the Oranga Tamariki system which supports our children most at risk.

The review raises important issues about the role and functions of the Children's Commissioner, including how New Zealand ensures government agencies use their powers appropriately in relation to children; that children's rights are upheld, their wellbeing is paramount and that they are treated with dignity and respect.

A consultation document has been released and the closing date for comment is Monday 2 July 2018.

In the news

A new media site has been launched for children with lots of New Zealand content. Andrew Becroft was at the HEIHEI launch in Auckland at the end of May, to celebrate the new site and in particular the focus on educational and interactive content. The site was developed in consultation with children based on some of our engagement principles and they’ve done a great job!

The Commissioner was recently interviewed on child poverty by comedian Alice Snedden for her issues-based show Alice Snedden’s Bad News.

And on 26 May he talked to The Nation about what the 2018 Budget holds for children, and some current issues facing children and young people.

Recent publications

Submission on National Education Learning Priorities Amendment Bill - April

This Bill explicitly requires the Minister to consult children when developing the Statement of National Education Learning Priorities. We support this Bill because it enshrines in legislation the right for children to have a say on the statement - consistent with Article 12 of the Children’s Convention.

Getting It Right: Building Blocks - April

The report looks at how the New Zealand Government can build the foundations for implementing the Children’s Convention in Aotearoa.

Submission on the Child Poverty Reduction Bill: Moving from child poverty to child well-being - April

The Child Poverty Reduction Bill is a significant piece of legislation with the potential to transform the lives and well-being of our children. As Andrew Becroft told the Select Committee at the start of May, it could be a 'game-changer' (New Zealand Herald). Focusing on reducing poverty should lead to taking effective action to improve the lives of children and their families across a range of indicators, and move us toward a fairer, more productive country.

Education matters to me - March

Late last year, the OCC and New Zealand School Trustees Association asked children and young people about what was important to them in education. The key insights report and six detailed reports share insights from children and young people in primary and secondary schools, alternative education units, early childhood centres, kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa Māori, learning support units, home-based schools and teen parent units.

Coming soon

26 June: The next State of Care report on our monitoring work over the past year will focus on what young people with at-risk or offending behaviour tell us works best to help them live successfully in their communities.

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