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Make My Future Fair is a call for all
New Zealanders to stand with children.

Every child in our country is a citizen with rights, needing special protection. Make My Future Fair is here to tell their stories and help make sure every New Zealand child is healthy, educated, safe, and able to participate in our society.

“I think that adults should not have to worry about money or anything and should just be able to play with their kids, and be able to just not stress, so they have more time to play with their kids.”
“Um, I think that adults should take off time from their work and, um, spend time with their kids more, and that, and take them out and that, that’s how I think
adults should be”
“We should make a future plan for our children, when they are born the parents should put money away for future education and the government should help fund that”
“I think that adults should help kids be safer in their families, from abuse from the adults like when adults hit you, Child, Youth and Family should be stricter on that and take children when they are being hurt by their parents.”
“My idea is, that I think kids should get free milk like in the olden days when kids got free milk, and we should have lockers in primary school, and when you go to the doctors it should be free ‘cos what’s the deal if you go to the doctors and you are in pain and you have to pay, that’s stupid.”
“I think the government could help children by not having so many wrinkly old men in parliament”
I think that the Government should honestly pay more attention to children, because the children are the future of NZ basically, and if the children of NZ are not getting treated as they should, obviously in the future then they won’t be how you want them...

Comments from children to 0800 What's Up and Barnardos
for consultation on the Green Paper on Vulnerable Children

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Every

child

is entitled

to special
care & attention

Health

Every child has the right to the highest attainable standard of health.
Governments should ensure that children survive and develop healthily, with good quality health care, clean water, nutritious food and a clean environment.

Articles 7 and 24 UNCROC

Education

Children have a right to education that develops their personality, talents and abilities to their fullest potential. Education should encourage respect for human rights and prepare them for responsible life in a free society. Children also have a right to rest and play.

Article 28 UNCROC

Violence

Children have the right to be protected from being
hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally.

Article 19 UNCROC

Family

Children have a right to know and be cared for by both of their parents, be guided by them have and government assistance for their parents to raise them well.

Article 18 UNCROC

Justice

Children who are accused of breaking the law have
the right to legal help and fair treatment in a justice
system that respects their rights.

Article 40 UNCROC

24%

of kiwi kids

are living
in poverty

in damp

Crowded

mouldy
houses

Every day

thousands

of children across
New Zealand

go to school
hungry

some have
no lunch

or
breakfast

they get sick
often

slipping
behind

14%

of young
Kiwis

have been
hit

by an
adult

at
home

9

New Zealand
children

die

from

family
violence

every year

My mum
works 2 jobs

I feel like
I never see
her

I get into
trouble

my parents
separated

It's hard

I feel angry

and
alone

like many
young Kiwis

I was
bored

I got kicked out
of school

I started
shoplifting

It wasn't anything
serious

just a bit of
tagging

I ended up in
adult jail

I was only
17

Still
just

a
kid

Debugger

4 years

7 years

10 years

13 years

16 years

Health

Poverty, and inadequate housing, put children in hospital 40,000 times every year - and in many cases, costs them their lives.

The Expert

More than 260,000 children live in poverty, and over 180,000 children miss out on their basic needs - like health, food and warm clothes - everyday.

Read more

The Facts

Find out more

How is NZ Going?

Next up: Education

Education

Poverty, illness and disability mean that tens of thousands of children never get a fair chance to grow and succeed - and we don’t do enough to help them.

The Expert

Over 100,000 New Zealand children live in conditions holding them back from educational development. An estimated 80,000 go to school hungry, every day.

Read more

The Facts

Find out more

How is NZ Going?

Next up: Violence

Violence

Nothing damages a child’s development more than exposure to violence - 
and New Zealand has one of the worst records in the developed world.

The Expert

Children are extremely vulnerable to violence. On average, one child is killed every five weeks - mostly children under the age of five.

Read more

The Facts

Find out more

How is NZ Going?

Next up: Family

Family

Social and economic changes are putting unprecedented pressure on families - and harming New Zealand children.

The Expert

About a quarter of New Zealand children live in sole parent families. This can mean living with insufficient income and resources to ensure their health and wellbeing.

Read more

The Facts

Find out more

How is NZ Going?

Next up: Justice

Justice

New Zealand’s criminal justice system is failing children - by not protecting them adequately, and by creating worse outcomes for some groups, than others.

The Expert

The minimum age of criminal responsibility in Aotearoa New Zealand is 10 - far lower than recommended by most international norms and conventions.

Read more

The Facts

Find out more

How is NZ Going?

Health

Poverty, and inadequate housing, put children in hospital 40,000 times every year - and in many cases, costs them their lives.

Sign the
petition

For more information visit

The issue.

Dr. Amanda D'Souza

Public Health Physician

University of Otago, Wellington

What's happening here?

More than 260,000 children live in poverty, and over 180,000 children miss out on their basic needs - like health food and warm clothes - everyday.

This results in around 40,000 child hospitalisations annually - and diseases related to household overcrowding are killing our children every year. Rheumatic fever levels in New Zealand are 14 times the OECD average - and our rates of chronic lung diseases are between 7 and 8 times higher than they should be.

Every year, at least 84 children are born that will not have a 5th birthday - because they were born in New Zealand, not Australia.

Those that survive suffer ongoing impact - with research confirming that for many of these children, growing up in an impoverished home negatively impacts their brain development, nervous and immune system, and metabolism - contributing to lower levels of well-being and poorer health outcomes throughout their lives.

And some children do worse than others. While 10% of Pākehā children live in crowded, damp, unhealthy homes - this figure rises to 25% of Māori children, and 47% of Pasifika kids. In 2014, Māori children were 20 times more likely to be hospitalised for rheumatic fever than non-Māori/Pasifika kids... and Pasifika children about 60 times.

These significant disparities in the health and wellbeing of different groups of children in New Zealand have already attracted concern from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.


Why is it happening?

Government policy changes from the early 1990s saw a steep increase in the number of New Zealand children living in poverty. Benefit cuts, unemployment and lower wages impacted on families at the same time as globalisation and technology changed our economy and society. A lack of government focus on child well being during this time of change, meant policies did not adequately support families to meet the needs of their children.

Lack of political leadership to uphold the rights of children, means that policy fails to create the conditions children need to be healthy... and to ensure an adequate standard of living and support for parents.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, our Government has an obligation to ensure all children have a standard of living that supports their physical and mental development.

Parents want to do the best for their children - but many face barriers such as low parental education, unemployment, disability, mental or physical illness, addictions, and sole parenthood. In the best interests of children, policy and communities have to support parents to overcome those barriers.

Currently, large numbers of children have their right to health breached because their families are not adequately supported to achieve education, income, health and housing sufficient to protect their health.


Children have a right to survive... and develop to their full potential.
They have a right to optimal health - and to be able to access proper treatment when they are sick.
They have a right to have preventable diseases - prevented.
They have a right to information about how stay healthy - for them, and those that care for them.
And, as adolescents, to have their reproductive health rights, respected.

How is NZ going?


International experience shows that prosperity and stability depend on public policies that support families in difficult times to ensure short-term problems do not turn into long-term disadvantages.

According to OECD measurements, New Zealand ranks 29th (out of 30 developed countries) for health and safety of our children... with only Turkey ranking lower. And in terms of the risk factors for New Zealand children, our performance is rated 24th.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has called for New Zealand to co-ordinate efforts across all government agencies to address inequalities.

This means linking health policies to those aimed at reducing income inequality and poverty... encouraging breastfeeding, education and disability policies ... providing adolescent health services... and supporting families to move out of poverty, while continuing to assist those who remain under the poverty line.


Who is doing well?

The Netherlands consistently ranks among the top five OECD countries in terms of child well-being.

The factors that contribute to this ranking include: a public consensus and culture of care and respect for children, acceptance that parents need to spend time at home with their children in the early years, a lower rate of sole parenthood, a strong focus on education for children and adults, clarity around the role of central and local government, a legal requirement for professionals working with families to collaborate with fellow providers and good social housing with long-term, secure, tenancies.

In Australia, Government approaches to child poverty alleviation through taxes and transfers deliver significantly lower poverty rates.

Australia is ranked 15th in the OECD for children’s Health and Safety, 17th for Risk Behaviours, and 15th for Material Wellbeing. It is also one of the first developed countries to begin regular early years development monitoring for all children.

In its 2014 international Report Card on the impact of the Global Financial Crisis on children, UNICEF highlighted that “Australia’s increase in spending on families had a more positive impact than the ambitious tax cuts implemented in New Zealand, where poverty and inequality stagnated.”

However, there are areas where New Zealand is improving.


Our ‘Well Child Health (Plunket/ Tamariki Ora) Programme’ has near universal coverage and provides an important platform from which to provide additional services proportionate to need.

The Government has recently increased free health care for children up to the age of 13 years, extended Paid Parental Leave, developed a Vulnerable Children’s Action Plan and introduced Better Public Service Targets to improve immunisation rates and reduce Rheumatic Fever.

Continuing to improve policies - and their outcomes for New Zealand children – can help us improve the conditions and lives of the most vulnerable Kiwi kids... and make them lucky to be New Zealanders, again.

Stand up for children.

This is the time - and the place - to help us make the future fair for New Zealand children.

Write to the Prime Minister or your MP, telling them you expect them to make children and families the priority for investment and support, so that all children are safe and have a decent standard of living.

What else can I do?


Share this site

The more New Zealanders understand what you’ve seen here, the more pressure will be created for change. Please share this site - and encourage your families, friends and colleagues to make sure Kiwi kids really are facing a fair future.


Support parents

Within your own family and community make sure that parents are supported and have the resources they need for their children. Provide encouragement, childcare, and whatever support you can when it is needed – and let parents know that you are there if they need help.

Local neighbourhood and community efforts to support families, such as parenting groups & education, community gardens, food in schools, and literacy programmes, all make a difference - so please get involved, and support them.


Value every child

Always speak positively with, and about, children. Make sure children know they are valued citizens and listen carefully to what they say. If a child needs help, give it them. And if you are concerned about a child - speak with their parents to see if they need help, or contact the Police, or Child, Youth and Family on 0508 326 459.


Learn more

Learn more about children’s rights and talk to others about the need for New Zealand to uphold the rights of children.

Education

Poverty, illness and disability mean that tens of thousands of children never get a fair chance to grow and succeed - and we don’t do enough to help them.

Sign the
petition

For more information visit

The issue.

Louise Green

President

NZEI Te Riu Roa

What's happening here?

Over 100,000 New Zealand children live in conditions that hold them back from educational development success. And an estimated 80,000 go to school hungry, every day.

One third of New Zealand children live in homes where parents have limited education, are illiterate, or lack the resources to support their child’s early learning.

Missing out on nutritious food, and living in overcrowded, cold, conditions, also make learning difficult. These conditions are also linked to chronic illness – which takes a toll on children’s attendance and participation in school.

By denying children in poverty proper access to education, we are denying them the greatest opportunity they have to improve their own lives, and futures, for themselves and for the families they will create.


Across every country, educational success is a primary mechanism for upward social mobility and escaping potentially lifelong, intergenerational poverty. However, a large proportion of disadvantaged kids in New Zealand never achieve this success - resulting in them working less, earning less, being twice as likely to be arrested and five times as likely to being a single parent before the age of 21.

There are also gaps in the provision of education to children living with disability. Lack of resources and support means that schools do not have the capacity to provide for children with disabilities. Children with disability are also more likely to live in homes with limited incomes or poverty, where families struggle to adequately meet their child’s needs.

Like all children, schooling helps disabled children build skills that enable their future employment and greater participation in their communities. Excluding these children from school is a blatant breach of their rights, and those of their non-disabled peers.


Why is it happening?

International studies tell us that parents' income and education levels have a direct impact on the educational success of children – and not enough is being done to break the cycle that leaves a large group of children behind.

The quality of early childhood education also has a direct impact on a child’s educational development as a whole. Yet changes to Government policy mean not all early childhood education is provided by suitably qualified staff... which means that the quality of this education cannot be guaranteed.

In schools, the focus on National Standards means some areas of learning are prioritised over others... and this increases the risk of a loss of authentic learning, when teachers end up jumping through specific, required hoops instead of responding to the learning needs of the particular children they teach.

There are also child rights issues linked to the introduction of Charter Schools, where there are fewer quality and accountability controls, and less inclusion of children with disabilities.


Children have a right to education that develops their personality, talents and abilities to their fullest potential.
They have a right to education that encourages respect for human rights, parents, their cultural identity, and prepares them for responsible life in a free society.
They have a right to discipline that is respectful of the child, and consistent with UN Conventions on Human Rights.
Children have a right to rest, leisure and play.

How is NZ going?


Overall, New Zealand ranks 13th out of 30 OECD countries on educational wellbeing. By comparison, our nearest neighbour Australia, is ranked 6th.

A particular issue for New Zealand though, is the degree to which some students have a great deal less opportunity than others - sometimes described as ‘the long tail’ of 'educational' underachievement.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has recommended the following steps to create fairer, better outcomes for New Zealand children:

  • ensuring that all children have access to high quality early childhood education, and that it is free for disadvantaged children

  • working harder to reduce negative effects of ethnic/social background on school enrolment and attendance
  • investing in a truly inclusive education for all children
  • reducing the numbers of exclusions from schooling

  • stopping pressure to pay donations to schools, and reducing the need for schools to rely on donations from parents
  • intensifying efforts to eliminate bullying and violence in schools

Who is doing well?

In The Netherlands, which consistently sits among the top performers in the OECD on a range of child well-being measures, education is an important area of investment in children and families.

Specifically, this means that parental education levels guide the level of funding available for schools, there is a concentration on pre-school education for disadvantaged pupils, there is strong support for teacher education; education is designed to be coordinated with parental support and youth support services, and there are a variety of different school models, including ‘community schools’ with a high level of parental involvement.

But there are also positive examples of a fairer, more holistic approach to education that can be seen right here in New Zealand.

In Auckland, a council-owned company called COMET is supporting organisations working to improve education for unqualified adults, children with learning disabilities, and special needs children, amongst others who learn differently and require additional support.

This includes bringing whole families into the school environment so that parents can increase their literacy and pre-schoolers receive early childhood education. This works to build a culture of education in the home - with positive results being seen in the areas of family learning, financial literacy and youth preparation for employment.

And in Wellington, Berhampore School – a decile 4, state primary school with about 270 pupils – has pioneered an impressive and uniquely inclusive approach. Every child is welcome and the school works in partnership with the parents, staff, councils, government, social agencies and other schools with an inclusive education programme covering reading recovery, literacy recovery, English as a Second Language and learning disabilities.

The children at the school come from over twenty different ethnic and cultural groups, with many children also holding refugee status... and 15 percent of its students have been diagnosed with specific learning needs including the autism spectrum, intellectual disability and developmental delay.

Rather than a hindrance – the school views this diversity as a key asset to learning.

However, Government funding does not cover a student’s needs – and the school picks up the shortfall, which can cost the school $5,000-$8,000 a year per child for the in-class support that children need. The school also supports students who don’t meet Ministry of Education criteria but still have significant learning challenges.

School Principal, Mark Potter, says, “We constantly end up with a conflict between one branch of the ministry saying we are supposed to meet the needs of the children, and another branch of the ministry saying that we have to meet the needs out of the financial budgets that they have put out. They do like to tell people that schools are fully funded, but it’s just not true.”

Stand up for children.

This is the time - and the place - to help us make the future fair for New Zealand children.

Write to the Prime Minister or your MP, telling them you expect them to make children and families the priority for investment and support, so that all children are safe and have a decent standard of living.

What else can I do?


Share this site

The more New Zealanders understand what you’ve seen here, the more pressure will be created for change. Please share this site - and encourage your families, friends and colleagues to make sure Kiwi kids really are facing a fair future.


Support parents

Within your own family and community make sure that parents are supported and have the resources they need for their children. Provide encouragement, childcare, and whatever support you can when it is needed – and let parents know that you are there if they need help.

Local neighbourhood and community efforts to support families, such as parenting groups & education, community gardens, food in schools, and literacy programmes, all make a difference - so please get involved, and support them.


Value every child

Always speak positively with, and about, children. Make sure children know they are valued citizens and listen carefully to what they say. If a child needs help, give it them. And if you are concerned about a child - speak with their parents to see if they need help, or contact the Police, or Child, Youth and Family on 0508 326 459.


Learn more

Learn more about children’s rights and talk to others about the need for New Zealand to uphold the rights of children.

Violence

Nothing damages a child’s development more than exposure to violence - 
 and New Zealand has one of the worst records in the developed world.

Sign the
petition

For more information visit

The issue.

Sanrda Peipi Te Pou

Nga Tuuhoe/Ngati Kahungunu

Nga Kaitaki Mauri

TOAH-NNEST

What's happening here?

Children are extremely vulnerable to violence. On average, one child is killed every five weeks - mostly children under the age of five, with the largest group being babies under the age of one year.

Every year 9,000 children (1 in 30) are born who are considered to be ‘at risk’ because their parents may be struggling to keep them safe.


Babies who live in chaotic, violent and negligent homes grow smaller brains and can live with lifelong health effects, including a higher likelihood of mental illness and heart disease. And children who witness family violence have the same physical and mental responses as children who experience violence directly.

Over 150,000 reports of concern – relating to 60,000 children – are received by CYFS every year... and the estimated annual cost of child maltreatment to New Zealand’s economy is over NZ$ 2 billion.

On average 10 babies every year are killed at the hands of their parents or caregivers.
 Worst of all this violence is preventable and, in similar countries, it is prevented.



Why is it happening?

Violence in our homes and communities is caused by a mix of historical, cultural, economic, social and behavioural factors - but Government policy and community expectations play a significant part.

Parental support, employment and income, housing, education, health and connections into communities all contribute to the outcomes for families and children.

Violence against children occurs throughout our society. However, there is a tenfold increase (4.2% to 42%) in child hospitalisation rates due to violence in New Zealand's most deprived areas.

While there is no comprehensive data on the incidence of violence against children with disabilities, international evidence suggests they are up to four times more likely to be maltreated.

Reducing poverty is a necessary part of achieving other national priorities such as reducing child abuse, lifting educational attainment and improving skill levels.

While increased awareness about the harms of violence to children, women, families and communities is leading to change, supported by law and policy, it continues to confront the nation as a priority issue impacting on children’s well-being and safety.


Children have the right to be protected from abuse and neglect.
They have the right to be protected from harmful practices such as forced marriage, sexual exploitation and abuse.
They have the right to be protected from cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, including physical punishment.
Children who have been victims of violence have the right to support to help them recover and reintegrate socially.

How is NZ going?


Past studies have shown New Zealand to have one of the worst rates of child deaths, due to maltreatment and abuse, in the developed world.

In comparison, the Kidsrightindex.org ranks Australia significantly higher than New Zealand on ensuring children's right to life - representing a marked difference for a country with broadly similar economic and social systems.

Governments and communities have been working to address violence against children - and changing attitudes, combined with greater understanding, mean that more and more parents are learning ways to discipline their children without the use of force.

However, there are gaps in this work in terms of leadership, coordination, investment, data collection, evaluation and monitoring, and access to justice and advocacy for children.

There is a need for all Government work for children - across health, education, violence, youth justice and family environment - to be coordinated and underpinned by a national plan of action.

And, for Government to further enable families and communities to support each other in keeping children safe... by developing knowledge of the signs of child abuse and neglect and enabling New Zealanders to respond to those signs.


Who is doing well?

Sweden was the first country in the world to ban the use of physical punishment against children in 1979. In addition to the law change, a comprehensive public education campaign was launched and acceptance of physical punishment is generally very low.

Parents are continually encouraged to seek help with child management problems – and there is a strong culture of support for parents, with a range of economic and social measures in place.

Early identification of parents who are struggling, means support is provided and children are better protected, resulting in very low numbers of children who die at the hands of caregivers, compared to New Zealand.

This social shift to positive, non-violent parenting has supported improvements in the mental health of children and young people, and a reduction in alcohol and drug abuse among youth.

UNICEF NZ is calling for policy and practice that ensures:

  • A culture that values children and doesn't tolerate violence
  • Wider availability of positive parenting education and information about child management strategies
  • Less drug and alcohol abuse, with treatment for those who need it
  • Support for parents’ mental health
  • Support for young and sole parents
  • Recovery and treatment for children who have experienced abuse as a child • Continuing effort to address family violence

Stand up for children.

This is the time - and the place - to help us make the future fair for New Zealand children.

Write to the Prime Minister or your MP, telling them you expect them to make children and families the priority for investment and support, so that all children are safe and have a decent standard of living.

What else can I do?


Share this site

The more New Zealanders understand what you’ve seen here, the more pressure will be created for change. Please share this site - and encourage your families, friends and colleagues to make sure Kiwi kids really are facing a fair future.


Support parents

Within your own family and community make sure that parents are supported and have the resources they need for their children. Provide encouragement, childcare, and whatever support you can when it is needed – and let parents know that you are there if they need help.

Local neighbourhood and community efforts to support families, such as parenting groups & education, community gardens, food in schools, and literacy programmes, all make a difference - so please get involved, and support them.


Value every child

Always speak positively with, and about, children. Make sure children know they are valued citizens and listen carefully to what they say. If a child needs help, give it them. And if you are concerned about a child - speak with their parents to see if they need help, or contact the Police, or Child, Youth and Family on 0508 326 459.


Learn more

Learn more about children’s rights and talk to others about the need for New Zealand to uphold the rights of children.

Family

Social and economic changes are putting unprecedented pressure on families - and harming New Zealand children.

Sign the
petition

For more information visit

The issue.

Sarah Te One

Action for Children & Youth Aotearoa

What's happening here?

When parents spend time with their children, they transmit language, the family’s culture and beliefs, teach children about the world around them, develop their life skills and stimulate the child’s development.

However, economic pressures on families mean some parents have few choices and are unable to spend time with their babies and small children. It is becoming more common for very young children to spend extended periods of time in care outside of the home, with 76,000 children under three years of age currently in early childhood education and potentially, missing out on the type and level of care that they need.

About a quarter of New Zealand children live in sole parent families, primarily with their mother. This can mean living with insufficient income and resources to ensure the health and well-being of parents and their children.

Governments have a responsibility to ensure that families can meet the needs of their children, through adequate income and housing, as well as education and health for parents and children alike. As a nation, we must build a culture of respect for children and for parents.

Where families are unable to care for their children, the Government has a responsibility to intervene to protect children and provide appropriate, alternative care.

But in providing this care and protection, our current systems do not always maintain a strong enough focus on the child’s wellbeing, or provide a sufficient level of coordinated investment in them and adequate support.


Why is it happening?

Significant social and economic change in the past thirty years means parents are under more pressure to work outside of the home. Cuts to benefits and wages make it difficult for parents to meet their families’ needs. Some parents have to work multiple jobs in an effort to earn enough and this reduces their ability to spend time with their children.

During the 1980s and 1990s there was a steep increase in the number of sole parent families. This change in family form presents challenges for Government and society to ensure that social policy keeps up with this modern reality.


Children have the right to a standard of living to adequately to ensure their physical and mental development.
They have the right to know and be cared for by their parents, to be guided by them and have their parents share responsibility for their upbringing.
They have the right to regular contact with their parents when they are separated from them, except when contact is not in their best interests.
And when they can’t be cared for by their own family, they have the right to special protection and assistance from the State.

How is NZ going?


While there is no specific OECD measure that compares New Zealand’s performance in the area of family environments, related measures such as Material Well-Being (where we rank 21st out of 30) and Risk Behaviours (24th out of 30) show that we have a long way to go, compared to similar developed countries.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has called on the Government to intensify efforts to support parents and caregivers with child-rearing, including support for breastfeeding, adequate standard of living, equal access to health services, and drug and alcohol treatment. The Committee also identifies the need for better responses to child abuse and neglect, as well as a review of adoption laws.

Our main opportunities to improve our support for families are by making sure that our legal and policy systems:

  • support parents when they make the choice to stay home and care for their infants in the early years of a child's life
  • ensure that all children have an adequate standard of living
  • ensure that all parents and caregivers are well-resourced and supported, especially those who face additional barriers because of poor health, mental illness, social isolation or violence
  • make sure that non-custodial parents contribute to the care of their children and that those child support payments reach children
  • make good quality childcare affordable and accessible, so that sole parents can work when their children are older
  • create ways for extended family/whānau and neighbourhoods to support sole parents
  • ensure that disabled children have the same legal protections as others and have regular review of their circumstances when cared for outside of the family

Who is doing well?

Sweden prides itself on being one of the most family-friendly societies in the world and sits among the top performers in the OECD on child well-being.

In Sweden, expectant parents are invested in, with antenatal classes and preparation for parenthood. Social insurance makes it possible for parents to take time off during pregnancy, especially if they work in manual jobs.

Once baby is born, parents can share 480 days of paid parental leave - earning up to 80 percent of their normal wages. Those not in work are also entitled to paid parental leave.

Fathers are actively involved in the care of their children and, on average, take a quarter of the parental leave entitlement. Families are paid a monthly allowance for each child they have. Early childhood education is widely available, schooling is free and this includes a free, nutritious meal for every child.

Cities also pride themselves on being child and baby-friendly, with transportation and buildings are accessible to prams and in some cities, bus travel being provided free of charge to parents travelling with prams.

Stand up for children.

This is the time - and the place - to help us make the future fair for New Zealand children.

Write to the Prime Minister or your MP, telling them you expect them to make children and families the priority for investment and support, so that all children are safe and have a decent standard of living.

What else can I do?


Share this site

The more New Zealanders understand what you’ve seen here, the more pressure will be created for change. Please share this site - and encourage your families, friends and colleagues to make sure Kiwi kids really are facing a fair future.


Support parents

Within your own family and community make sure that parents are supported and have the resources they need for their children. Provide encouragement, childcare, and whatever support you can when it is needed – and let parents know that you are there if they need help.

Local neighbourhood and community efforts to support families, such as parenting groups & education, community gardens, food in schools, and literacy programmes, all make a difference - so please get involved, and support them.


Value every child

Always speak positively with, and about, children. Make sure children know they are valued citizens and listen carefully to what they say. If a child needs help, give it them. And if you are concerned about a child - speak with their parents to see if they need help, or contact the Police, or Child, Youth and Family on 0508 326 459.


Learn more

Learn more about children’s rights and talk to others about the need for New Zealand to uphold the rights of children.

Youth Justice

New Zealand’s criminal justice system is failing children - by not protecting them adequately, and by creating worse outcomes for some groups, than others.

Sign the
petition

For more information visit

The issue.

Kim Workman

Ngati Kahungunu

Founder, Rethinking Crime & Punishment

What's happening here?

The minimum age of criminal responsibility in Aotearoa New Zealand is 10 - far lower than recommended by most international norms and conventions, and not catering for the emotional, mental and intellectual maturity of children and young people.

And, in practice, there is no consistent age for criminal prosecution...with different offences being charged at different ages.

Until 2010, the minimum age that children could be charged for all offences (other than the crimes of murder and manslaughter) was lowered from 14 to 12, for children meeting certain criteria... but not others. And at 16, young people who are married or in a civil union can be charged as adults - while another 16 year old would not.


These discriminations and distinctions are contrary to a number of international human rights agreements, which state that as young people, all 16 year olds have the right to different levels of protection.

Meanwhile, young people 17 and over are charged as adults - again in breach of international human rights norms. And some young people who offend before this age - but are charged years later - are treated as adults, and sentenced much more harshly.

If a child offends, international law, and New Zealand’s own Appeal Court, have maintained that they should be charged and sentenced as a child, not treated retrospectively based on delays in investigations or judicial process.

The lack of proper distinction between children, and adults, also relates to situations where a young person is kept in police custody. While this can sometimes be a necessity for community safety, there are a number of human rights issues that arise from inadequate processes, and facilities, for young people in detention - and occasionally, as in the case of Liam Ashley, tragic outcomes.


Why is it happening?

New Zealand law, policy and practice are inconsistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – and insufficient resources in youth justice means children’s rights and interests are not always upheld.

A desire to be seen as ‘tough on crime’ resulted in Government moves to lower the age of criminal responsibility to age 10 and efforts in Parliament to ensure the law is consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child have failed.

A shortage of child and youth-friendly facilities can mean they are detained in adult cells, sometimes with tragic results.

If children witness crime, or are victims of it, such as in situations of family violence or child abuse, our current police and court processes do not respond in ways that are child-friendly or responsive to children with disabilities.

Work has been done to investigate ways to improve systems and training for those working with children, enable children to testify by video, and ensure more timely management of cases involving children, but comprehensive improvements have not yet been made.

In recent years, children have been caught up in police operations that have taken no account of the need to protect children from harm.


Children have a right to be treated with respect and dignity, in a manner which takes account of their age.
Arresting or detaining a child should be a last resort and for the shortest period possible.
If detained, children have the right to be separated from adults in their best interests.
They have the right to alternatives to institutional care such as supervision, counselling, education and vocational training programmes.

How is NZ going?


Currently, New Zealand’s status and reputation in terms of children’s civil rights, and the way our justice system protects and supports children, falls well short of significant international standards and benchmarks.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has been repeatedly critical of New Zealand because the international expectation that a child’s mental capacity and maturity will be taken into account is not adequately reflected in our law.

The Child Rights International Network makes that point that whether children come into contact with the law as victims, witnesses, offenders or complainants, it is equally important that they are met with a system that understands and respects both their rights and their unique vulnerability.

In practice, this means that:


  • Any child apprehended by the police and suspected of wrongdoing should be given an immediate opportunity to contact a parent, guardian or trusted person and provided with access to a lawyer free of charge.

  • Police officers should explain to children why they have been apprehended in a way that they can understand, and should not question children about their potentially offending behaviour until a parent, guardian, trusted person or lawyer has arrived.

  • Children should only be detained in exceptional circumstances and, where this is necessary, should never be detained alongside adults.

The Department of Corrections has also reported a bias within the criminal justice system, such that any suspected or actual offending by Māori tends to have harsher consequences in terms of prosecution and sentencing – resulting in an accumulation of individuals within the system.

In 2011, young Māori were prosecuted at a rate more than five times that for young New Zealand Europeans, and 2.7 times more than young Pacific people – and they make up nearly half of those transferred from the Youth Court to the adult justice system.

Who is doing well?

2010 work by the New Zealand Ministry of Justice points to the system in Austria as one that we could draw on to improve our justice system for children.

In Austria, a child is questioned twice: first during the police interview (which is conducted by an expert, usually a psychologist) and then by the pre-trial Judge. Evidence is collected from a child witness as close as possible to the time that the offence occurred. Child witnesses are usually questioned at a pre-trial hearing, conducted privately before a “pre-trial Judge”. The prosecutor and defence lawyer are both present.

Most questioning, on behalf of both sides, is carried out by an expert, sitting alone with the child in a "child friendly" environment, with toys and little chairs and tables. The Judge, prosecutor and defence are in a separate room and can view and hear the questioning via CCTV - the recording of which, may be played during the trial. Otherwise a written transcript will be provided.

It is mandatory for children under the age of 14 who are victims of a sexual crime, to be questioned in a room separate from the parties.

Stand up for children.

This is the time - and the place - to help us make the future fair for New Zealand children.

Write to the Prime Minister or your MP, telling them you expect them to make children and families the priority for investment and support, so that all children are safe and have a decent standard of living.

What else can I do?


Share this site

The more New Zealanders understand what you’ve seen here, the more pressure will be created for change. Please share this site - and encourage your families, friends and colleagues to make sure Kiwi kids really are facing a fair future.


Support parents

Within your own family and community make sure that parents are supported and have the resources they need for their children. Provide encouragement, childcare, and whatever support you can when it is needed – and let parents know that you are there if they need help.

Local neighbourhood and community efforts to support families, such as parenting groups & education, community gardens, food in schools, and literacy programmes, all make a difference - so please get involved, and support them.


Value every child

Always speak positively with, and about, children. Make sure children know they are valued citizens and listen carefully to what they say. If a child needs help, give it them. And if you are concerned about a child - speak with their parents to see if they need help, or contact the Police, or Child, Youth and Family on 0508 326 459.


Learn more

Learn more about children’s rights and talk to others about the need for New Zealand to uphold the rights of children.

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The Issue

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