Election 2020

Election 2020; children policies5 min read

13/10/20 4 min read

Election 2020; children policies5 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Our National Policy Analyst, Phoebe Eden-Mann, has taken a look at the children policies currently available from the main parties. Here is her take from a disability perspective.

Children and young people have a right to be heard; to have a say and actively participate in their own lives. This is a right guaranteed to children and young people under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, disabled children and young people are guaranteed the same fundamental rights and freedoms on an equal basis with other children, this includes their views being given the same weight and consideration as their non-disabled peers.

And yet despite these rights, disabled children and young people can often experience a lack of voice and agency across a wide range of aspects of life, such as education, family life, play, and the wider health system.

The Election is now only four days away, so have a look at the children’s policies the main parties have announced, and what they might mean for the disability community.

It’s important to note that at the time of writing (13th of October 2020), the policies I’m about to talk about were the only ones available, and parties may release policies over the next few days. All policy information that is discussed has been sourced directly from the party’s websites.

I’ve examined the policies the current parties in parliament have released. Those parties are Labour, National, New Zealand First, Act, and the Greens. There is also a significant amount of cross over between children’s policies and education, health, housing, and income support, which I have already written about. You can find all of the existing blogs here.

The parties have been selected in no particular order.

The Green Party

The Green Party is proposing:

  • To support the development of a senior cabinet position of the Minster for Children with all of the necessary departmental resources.
  • To establish the use of child interest analysis in all government policy and planning.
  • To support the use of an evidence-based nationwide child wellbeing strategy that cements children’s rights, including the rights of tamariki and rangatahi Māori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
  • To ensure that all children have access to safe public spaces to play.
  • To improve and ensure equitable access to social services for children with additional needs and their whānau, with a focus on both early intervention and continued support, including adequate resourcing of and access to respite services for parents.
  • To support the development of initiatives that promote children’s full citizenship and participation in their communities.
  • To ban all sterilisations/chemical castrations of individuals under the age of 18, unless it is due to medical emergency and is a life saving measure.
  • To reinstate the Parent Advocacy Phone Line to support parents needing to advocate for their children’s needs.
  • To establish a $5M annual school camp fund to provide funding for assistance which will ensure that all students are able to attend and experience school camps. This fund will help pay for the support staff, equipment, and infrastructure required to make sure that school camps are more accessible.

The ACT Party

The ACT Party do not have any child specific policies that I haven’t covered already in previous articles. You can find them here.

The Labour Party

The Labour Party is proposing:

  • To introduce a national register to actively track and treat rheumatic fever.
  • To extend out the Lunches in Schools programme to 200,000 children.
  • To continue to improve outcomes for Māori within the Oranga Tamariki system by strengthening relationships with whānau, hapū and iwi, and by exploring options to place any child or young person of interest with wider family first, rather than placing them into state care.
  • To ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the 3rd optional protocol, and will remove all earlier reservations.

The National Party

The National Party is proposing:

  • To target support to families especially during a child’s first 1000 days.
  • To establish a National Centre for Child Development, which would bring together the best of health, education and neuroscience research to help develop effective services for parents and children.
  • To make non-disclosure of child abuse an offence, with a maximum three-year sentence for failing to provide information about child abuse to the police.
  • To invest in programmes which help support the development of self-regulation in children and to support healthy emotional and behavioural development.
  • To improve access to early intervention services by ensuring that early intervention services occur within 30 days of a request or referral.
  • To invest an additional $30M per year in a childhood oral health programme.

The New Zealand First Party

The New Zealand First Party is proposing:

  • To expand on access to counselling for all school ages children and their families.
  • To investigate the funding of nutrition advice in GP offices for those families with extra needs.
  • To review the adult to infant (under 2’s) staffing ratios at Early Childhood Education centres as an urgent health and safety matter.
  • To continue to shift away from the decile system to better address inequity and ‘outside of school’ factors that impact on student learning and achievement.
  • To develop a ‘demerit point’ system as a requirement for support of young people who have comes to the attention of the police.

I did need some clarification about the demerit point system, so Tracey Martin explained “It means that if every young person starts with 100 points after two minor interactions with the police that might be down to 90 points, and an early intervention service would pop round to their house and find out if there were some issues. If those issues were access to services, then the ideal is to get that’s sorted to stop further anti-social or offending behaviour”.

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