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Source: Human Rights Commission

The Disability Rights Commissioner says good progress has been made since the last review of New Zealand’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but significant issues remain as structural reforms for children are yet to materialise into improved outcomes.

“The reforms to legislation and policy in New Zealand relating to children’s rights in recent years have been a major step forward in advancing the country’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Children,” says Disability Rights Commissioner, Paula Tesoriero.

However, the Disability Rights Commissioner says issues remain. “While there has been progress integrating the Convention’s principles into New Zealand’s legislative framework, progress in improving socio-economic disparities among New Zealand children has proven more difficult,” she explains.

The comments from the Disability Rights Commissioner come as part of the Human Rights Commission Submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child as part of the 6th periodic review under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In its submission, the Human Rights Commission explained that income poverty rates remain high, rates of severe housing deprivation have worsened, and structural discrimination remains at similar levels across a wide range of socio-economic indicia.

 “This indicates that the significant structural reforms since 2016 are yet to materialise into significantly improved outcomes for children. This is due, in part, to the timeframes required for change to occur. The Child Poverty Reduction Act, for example, introduces ten-year poverty reduction targets. Its effectiveness will accordingly become evident over time,” says Tesoriero.

There is currently a large amount of reform occurring across the social sector, much of which directly affect children. This includes new legislation governing the education system and a fundamental review of the social security system. Formal inquiries are also underway, including a Royal Commission of Inquiry into historic abuse in State Care, as well as reviews of the current failings of New Zealand’s child protection and state care system.

“The Government has set child and youth wellbeing as a priority. Establishing a comprehensive human-rights based framework will help to help make this real for all children in New Zealand and will improve outcomes,” explains the Disability Rights Commissioner.

The Human Rights Commission has a role in monitoring the government’s human rights obligation for children. The United Nations last reviewed New Zealand’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2016. As part of the review process, the Commission makes suggestions on what issues the UN should raise with the government, as well as the issues and opportunities that should be addressed. It works with the Children’s Commissioner and with NGOs through the Children’s Rights Alliance. The next step is scheduled for June. The process is outlined here.

Click here to read the submission.

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See the Human Rights Commission’s recommendations below: