The Human Rights Commission is recommending that the New Zealand Government develops and carries out a properly funded children’s rights plan that identifies actions and measures results in an effort to address the significant issues facing many of New Zealand’s children.
The Commission appeared before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child as part of New Zealand’s 5th periodic review.
The impact of New Zealand’s housing crisis on children is raised in a recommendation to the Government to develop a comprehensive, clear implementation plan that identifies actions, builds ownership and measures results to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) that all people in New Zealand live in adequate, affordable and safe housing by 2030. The implementation plan should have a particular focus on addressing housing affordability, habitability and security of tenure.
Both the Human Rights Commission and the Children’s Commission recommend that the Government take urgent steps to develop a child poverty strategy to meet the SDG target of reducing child poverty by 50% by 2030.
Both Commissions also recommend that the Education Act 1989 be updated to enable the Ministry of Education to establish and fully fund a comprehensive anti-bullying programme to reduce bullying in schools. This would require school boards of trustees to implement policies and programmes to address and reduce bullying and violence in schools – including cyber-bullying - and would require schools to collect and report data on school bullying and violence.
Also recommended as part of updating the Education Act is that the right to inclusive education is made one of the statutory responsibilities of school boards of trustees and that implementation of inclusive policies and practices is measured. Inclusive education targets and goals should also be part of the Government’s New Zealand Disability Strategy and Disability Action Plan.
The Government is encouraged to maintain its commitment to reduce violence against children, family violence and ensure front-line services are provided with adequate resources to meet the demand.
The Human Rights Commission supports the Children’s Commission’s priority to get the Government to urgently raise the upper age of New Zealand’s youth justice system to include 17 year olds.
Other recommendations made by the Human Rights Commission include: recognising the increased costs arising from the Canterbury earthquakes for the ongoing provision of mental health support services for children and their families in the Canterbury region; reducing ethnic disparities in both hospitalisation and mortality rates, particularly amongst Maori and Pacific children; the rights of children to participate in decision-making processes which affect them; protecting the rights of refugee children; protecting the rights of intersex infants and children; bringing New Zealand’s adoption legislation and policy into line with domestic human rights law and international human rights treaty obligations;and children’s right to privacy.