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Twenty years since NZ's ratification of UNCROC

UNCROC is the most widely ratified UN convention. It places an obligation on governments not just to protect children’s rights but to actively promote them by ensuring they have access to good health care, education, good housing and are protected. It also requires governments to allow children to have a voice in decisions that affect them. CPAG spokesperson Dr Susan St John says that while the government is doing well in some areas such as putting more money into protecting children from abuse, there remains a great deal to be done.

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) congratulates Members of Parliament for unanimously supporting Metiria Turei’s Motion to the House recognising the importance of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC).  This was the occasion of the 20th anniversary of New Zealand’s ratification of UNCROC.

UNCROC is the most widely ratified UN convention. It places an obligation on governments not just to protect children’s rights but to actively promote them by ensuring they have access to good health care, education, good housing and are protected. It also requires governments to allow children to have a voice in decisions that affect them. CPAG spokesperson Dr Susan St John says that while the government is doing well in some areas such as putting more money into protecting children from abuse, there remains a great deal to be done.

“Child poverty remains at levels well above those of the 1980s. While we welcome the government’s commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable children, other policies continue to undermine their wellbeing. Low incomes, inadequate housing, especially in Auckland and Christchurch, and changes to welfare that limit assistance are all unnecessarily putting children at risk.

“Worse, the government continues to discriminate against the children of beneficiaries and others who may simply be out of work. Under the Convention, each child is entitled to the full protection of social security and yet we continue to have family assistance payments that are dependent on workforce status. This is a significant contributor to the lack of income experienced by many thousands of children. It is shameful that 20 years after ratifying the Convention, New Zealand continues to do this.”

The In-Work Tax Credit, worth $60 a week or more for larger families , is only available to families who are not on a benefit and work a minimum of 20 hours per week for a sole parent (30 in total for a couple).

“Making this available to all low income families would eliminate the discrimination and go a long way to improving the wellbeing of children. The Convention doesn’t just talk about the rights of children with working parents, it talks about promoting the rights of all children,” says Dr St John.