Questions on new developments - Children’s Convention from the United Nations

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Question 2

The Committee requests the State party to provide:

Question 2(a)

  1. Information on the adoption or reform of laws, policies and programmes and any other measures taken, including the creation or reform of institutions, that are significant for the implementation of the Convention, the Optional Protocol thereto on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Optional Protocol thereto on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography;

Reply to 2(a)

Since May 2015, the Government has continued to make progress in implementing the articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Children’s Convention) and addressing the 2016 Concluding Observations of the Committee over the reporting period between May 2015 to April 2021. This reflects the Government’s vision for New Zealand to be the best place in the world for children and young people and includes progress in the following key areas:

  1. establishing the Child Wellbeing and Poverty Reduction Group within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) in February 2018, and passing the Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018
  2. the Families Package, implemented from July 2018, increased the incomes of around 384,000 low to middle-income families with children – by, on average, $75 a week (in total, $5.5 billion over four years)
  3. the establishment of Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children (Oranga Tamariki) in April 2017
  4. programmes designed to specifically support Māori children in the state care and education systems, such as the Māori Education Strategy and the Mana Tamaiti objectives [1], have been introduced across different points in the six-year period
  5. the statutory care and protection system has been extended to include young people aged 17 years
  6. the Youth Justice system has been redesigned to increase the alignment of New Zealand’s justice system to the Convention. This includes an extension for most 17-year-olds to be in the Youth Justice system rather than the adult system
  7. the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has established a Digital Safety Group to help protect children from online abuse by enforcing the provisions of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993
  8. the Joint Venture for Family Violence and Sexual Violence was established in 2018 to bring government agencies together to work in new ways to reduce family violence, sexual violence and violence within whānau
  9. the launch of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy (CYWS) in August 2019, will help strengthen New Zealand’s commitment to its international obligations for children – including its obligations under the Children’s Convention
  10. the Education and Training Act 2020 was introduced to clarify that all children aged 5 years and above, including children with special education needs, whether because of disability or otherwise, have a right to attend school during the hours that the school is open for instruction.

Of particular note, please refer to replies to paragraph 4(b) in relation to other domestic legislation relating to alignment with the Convention, paragraph 4(c) for further information regarding the establishment of Oranga Tamariki, paragraph 4(d) for more information on the CYWS, and paragraphs 30 and 31 in relation to the two Optional Protocols.

Question 2(b) and 2(c)

  1. Information, as appropriate, on measures taken to ensure the protection of the rights of children in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and to mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic, in view of the statement of the Committee of 8 April 2020 on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children;
  2. Any other information that the State party considers relevant in this regard and that is not covered in the replies to the questions below, including information on obstacles and challenges faced.

Reply to 2(b) and 2(c)

DPMC formed an All-of-Government COVID-19 Group to provide leadership and coordination across government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Group works closely with government agencies across the four portfolio pillars of health, border, economy, and social sector to inform all-of-government advice to Cabinet on COVID-19-related matters, and non-health advice to the Director General of Health, including in relation to children and their rights throughout the pandemic.

Individual agencies have focused more specifically on children’s rights in the context of COVID-19, including options to mitigate any adverse impacts of the pandemic on children. For example, the Ministry of Education (MOE) provided online schooling to ensure children’s rights under Article 28 were still being met regardless of schools being closed and made arrangements for essential workers to continue accessing care and supervision for their children to meet Article 18.3.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges for children and young people in New Zealand across a range of areas including health, education, social services and employment. Evidence shows that COVID-19 will have a disproportionate and lasting impact on children and young people, and the full extent of these impacts are still emerging. Further information is provided, in various areas, throughout this report.

Question 3

The Committee also requests the State party to provide information on how a child rights-based approach is integrated into the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of measures for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including with regard to child participation and data collection, and how such measures promote the realization of children’s rights under the Convention and the Optional Protocols thereto.

Reply to 3

Statistics New Zealand (Stats NZ) is currently leading the development of a Data Investment Plan for the government data system. The Data Investment Plan will help Government invest in data strategically, by setting out a long-term view of investment across the Government data system. It will identify critical shortcomings in data content, infrastructure, and capability, and provide recommendations to Government on how these should be prioritised for investment.

Data on children and young people, including data from a child and youth perspective, and gaps in data identified through the CYWS and Child, Youth and Family Outcome Framework are included in the stocktake of essential data assets that will inform the Data Investment Plan.

A child rights-based approach is relevant to the CYWS, which guides government’s work on child and youth wellbeing. The CYWS principles include that children and young people’s rights need to be respected and upheld. One of its outcomes is ‘involved and empowered’, requiring that children and young people have their voices, perspectives and opinions listened to and considered. Legislation requires consultation with children and the Children’s Commissioner before the CYWS is changed or a new strategy is adopted. Insights from over 6,000 children and young people helped to shape the direction and content of the first CYWS.

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