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

Office of the Children's Commissioner FAQs - COVID-19

Last updated 6 October 2020

From 11.59pm on Monday 21 September, all of New Zealand (excluding Auckland) will move to Alert Level 1. Face coverings are not compulsory on public transport during Alert Level 1, but are encouraged when there is little or no physical distancing possible. 

Auckland will move to Alert Level 1 at 11:59pm on Wednesday 7 October.

This means that from Thursday, people in Auckland can gather with as many people as they want, and there are no extra restrictions on businesses.

Businesses, workplaces and public transport legally must continue to display QR codes. 

Face coverings are compulsory on public transport under Alert Level 2 in Auckland. Children aged under 12 will not have to wear a face covering on public transport. Flights that go to, from or transit through Auckland also require use of a face covering.

Find out more from the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

If you are concerned about the safety of a child or children please phone the Police on 111.

If you would like to speak to someone about a non-urgent issue related to the rights of a child or young person, our Child Rights Line is available on 0800 224 453 Monday to Wednesday 9am-5pm and Thursday 9am – 4pm.

1. How do I help children feel safe and reassured?

2. Can children go to school?

3. Women’s Refuge information

4. I’m feeling stressed, who can I talk to?

5. Where can I look if I need emotional support?

6. What financial support am I entitled to?

7. What are my rights?

1. How do I help children feel safe and reassured?

You can help children feel safe and reassured by being honest with them about what is going on in ways that are appropriate for their age and development. You can also take measures to protect them from harm.

For more information visit https://covid19.govt.nz/health-and-wellbeing/mental-wellbeing/keep-children-safe-and-reassured/

2. Can children go to school?

If you are outside the Auckland region:

  • Alert Level 1 applies. All school and early learning services are open for all staff and students. 
  • Maintain good hygiene practices and stay home if you are unwell.

If you are in the Auckland region:

  • Alert Level 2 applies. At Alert Level 2 all students, children and staff can attend school and early learning services – unless they are unwell, then they should stay home. 
  • Children and young people do not need to wear face coverings at school. This is because the risk of infection within the school environment is low.
  • Children and staff who are at higher-risk of severe illness should take additional precautions when leaving home.  

Find out more about COVID-19 alert levels in the education sector

3. Women’s Refuge information

(https://womensrefuge.org.nz/ 22/09/2020)

Women’s Refuge is now operating at Level 2 in Auckland and Level 1 in the remainder of the country. It’s okay to ask for help. Women's Refuge is an essential service.

Our services might look different and you may be asked some questions about your health. This will not prevent you from getting help.

If you feel unsafe you can call 111 at any time. You can also call 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 – services will remain open 24/7.

If you are concerned about somebody else, you can support them by keeping in touch with them. Some people may find it difficult to talk while in isolation if the abusive person is monitoring their devices. You can:
• Agree on a ‘code word’ in advance with your friend. If they message you that word, you can call the police and ask them to check on them.
• Ask them if they have the essential things they need (such as food, medication, and sanitary items) and help them to get them. Some abusive people will withhold these items.
• Help them to feel less isolated by setting up regular times to talk to you and to others.
• Encourage them to get in touch with Women’s Refuge if they feel unsafe.

4. I’m feeling stressed, who can I talk to?

(Accessed from https://covid19.govt.nz/health-and-wellbeing/mental-wellbeing/where-to-go-for-help/ 12/8/2020)

If you feel you’re not coping, it’s important to talk with a health professional. ​

For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text the 'Need to talk?' service on 1737. This service is free, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and gives you the chance to talk it through with a trained counsellor.   

For more helplines, visit https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/helplines/

5. Where else can I look if you need help for stress

(Accessed from https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/helplines/ 31/3/2020)

Helplines for children and young people

Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat

thelowdown.co.nz – or email team@thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626 

What's Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, 12noon–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available from 3pm–10pm 7 days a week, including all public holidays. 

Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.

OUTLine - 0800 OUTLINE (688 5463) between 6-9pm for LGBTIQ+ affirming support.

Support for parents, family and friends experiencing stress

EDANZ – improving outcomes for people with eating disorders and their families. Freephone 0800 2 EDANZ or 0800 233 269, or in Auckland 09 522 2679. Or email info@ed.org.nz

Parent Help – 0800 568 856 for parents/whānau seeking support, advice and practical strategies on all parenting concerns. Anonymous, non-judgemental and confidential.

Family Services 211 Helpline –  0800 211 211 for help finding (and direct transfer to) community based health and social support services in your area.

6. What financial support am I entitled to?

Information about financial support is available on the COVID19 website and the Work and Income website:



7. What are my rights?

Everyone, including children and young people, has human rights at all times, including during Covid-19. Rights which are particularly relevant to children and young people at the moment include:

  • The right to access a quality education and get the support you need to learn, by distance or onsite at school
  • The right to be in a physically and emotionally safe school environment when learning onsite
  • For students who have been excluded from school, the right to be provided with education from their excluding school until they are enrolled with another school, enrolled with Te Kura, or progressed through another suitable education pathway
  • The right to healthcare, within available resources, in a non-discriminatory way
  • For young people who are working, the right to safe working conditions and to be free from discrimination at work
  • The right to be free from violence and abuse
  • The right to be informed of your rights before being questioned by a police officer, charged with an offence, or arrested, in a way that is appropriate to the age and level of understanding of the child or young person.

For more information or advice, you can:

Contact our dedicated Child Rights Line on 0800 224 453 or advice@occ.org.nz or visit our children’s rights and advice page https://www.occ.org.nz/childrens-rights-and-advice/

Contact YouthLaw for free, specialist legal advice about issues involving children and young people on 0800 UTHLAW (0800 884529) or email info@youthlaw.co.nz

Visit the Human Rights Commission’s dedicated Covid-19 website https://covid19.hrc.co.nz/

Report your human rights and Covid-19 issues to the Human Rights Commission https://covid19.hrc.co.nz/report-an-issue