16 Sep 2016

UN committee questions focus of NZ's new child agency

10:24 am on 16 September 2016

The government has been grilled by a United Nations committee on the lack of a cohesive plan for protecting all children, not just the vulnerable.

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Photo: 123RF

A United Nations review on how New Zealand treats and protects children has begun in Geneva.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and a delegation of officials are being questioned by the UN's Committee on the Rights of the Child, as part of a five-yearly report.

Unicef NZ executive director Viven Maidaborn, who was part of the delegation, said the panel expressed concern about the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children.

"The comment that was made was 'I don't understand why you would call a Ministry, the Ministry of Vulnerable Children, when it could just have been the Ministry of Children'. You're in danger of overtargeting towards vulnerable children at the expense of rights to all New Zealand children."

The new ministry was announced last month, but many including the Children's Commissioner are refusing to use the english name.

The delegation has just come out of the first of three question sessions before a 15 person panel.

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft, who is part of the New Zealand team, told Morning Report officials have been kept busy, answering about 60 questions overnight.

He said the committee had some misgivings about the government's new approach.

"The committee was really I think asking we've got a lot of initiatives that are going on at the moment - is there an overarching plan that covers everything? Is there a comprehensive concerted plan to deal with all under 18-year-olds in New Zealand? Have we narrowed the focus unduly on vulnerable children to the detriment of New Zealand children as a whole?

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