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

OCC Newsletter: Special Edition

News

9 November 2018

Special Newsletter from the Office of the Children's Commissioner

What's all the fuss about child and youth wellbeing?

Child and youth wellbeing is big news these days. The Child Poverty Reduction Bill, soon to be passed into law, requires the government to develop a child wellbeing strategy.

We want to give you an update on what’s happening, where to find more information, and how you can contribute to the strategy.

Child and youth engagement toolkit

We have developed a toolkit to support organisations to talk to children and young people about wellbeing. You can use this to structure a conversation about wellbeing with children and young people, and to share the results with us or make your own submission to DPMC.

What's child wellbeing all about?

“Wellbeing” is a complex idea. We know it when we see it. And we know what we’re missing when it’s not there! But it’s hard to define. Here is our working definition:

Wellbeing is a positive state and not simply the absence of negatives. Children experience wellbeing when their family and whānau are connected and united; relationships within and beyond the family and whānau are thriving; family and whānau members support each other; there are opportunities for individual and collective growth; and all members of their family and whānau have their needs met. A community has achieved child wellbeing when all children and their whānau have their rights fulfilled and the conditions are in place to enable all children to participate in society and plan, develop and achieve meaningful lives.

If you want more information on child and youth wellbeing, go to the new section on our website.

Commissioner with young peopleImage description: The Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft poses with a group of young people. One young person is holding up a giant postcard to the Prime Minister, which has all the opinions of the young people pictured written on it. 
What are we doing?

At the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) we are thrilled a wellbeing strategy is being developed. We are doing all we can to support it to deliver the best possible results for our country’s children and young people.

Staff from OCC, in collaboration with Oranga Tamariki’s Voices of Children and Young People team, are currently travelling around Aotearoa to hear what children and young people think. So far the children and young people have made it very clear that they want to have a say and have very important things to tell us.

They have described their unique experiences and perspectives. They have shared what they think the good life is, what helps it and what gets in its way. It is very clear that there are common challenges facing all communities. It is equally apparent that there are distinct challenges facing some specific communities.

Once we have finished our engagement we will share the insights we have gathered from children and young people from all across the country.

In total we will meet with over 350 children and young people. We are meeting in community settings, and holding individual and paired interviews, small group sessions (with 5-7 participants), and activity based sessions (with 8-12 participants).

Primary, intermediate and secondary students are also completing an online survey in school settings. We hope to hear from at least 5,000 children and young people through online surveys.

One thing is clear. Children and young people want to share their views and have a lot of great ideas on how to make life better.

“The children and young people we’re meeting are grabbing the opportunity to share their views with us. They’ve made sure we understood what they see as the good life, as well as what gets in the way of them having it, and what helps too”, says Kelsey Brown, a member of the engagement team from OCC.

“Life isn’t always easy for some of the children we met with, and I want to thank them for sharing their stories.”

Here are just a few of the comments the team has already heard from children and young people:

Speech bubbles with quotes

Image description: 3 speech bubbles with quotes from young people. The quotes read; 1. "We're a new generation. We need new things whilst still remembering the lessons of old." from a 14 year old Pasifika boy; 2. "Equity, fairness, and freedom are 3 things that all children should be able to experience in terms of a good life." from a 16 year old Pasifika boy; 3. "Children and young people need an environment where they feel safe and comfortable, where they can speak out, their ideas and opinions taken into account." from a 14 year old girl.

PM with children and young people
Image description: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sits on the grass with a group of children and young people. She is listening to their comments and questions about wellbeing. The Prime Minister is also wearing a "pale" - a flower crown gifted to her, made by the mother of a Tokelauan child at the event.
What the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) is doing

The Child Poverty Reduction Bill requires the creation of New Zealand's first Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy. The strategy will commit government to report on the action it’s taking to improve the wellbeing of all children and young people.

The strategy will set out how government will deliver on its vision: New Zealand is the best place in the world for children and young people.

The strategy will need to address:

  • Improving the wellbeing of all children
  • Improving, as a particular focus, the wellbeing of children with greater needs
  • Reducing child poverty and mitigating the impacts of child poverty and socioeconomic disadvantage experienced by children
  • Improving the wellbeing of core populations of interest to Oranga Tamariki.

A special unit has been established within DPMC to lead this work. You can check out their website for information on the development of the strategy and how to have your say.