The Government has stated its commitment to reducing child poverty and enhancing child wellbeing. Its vision is for New Zealand to be the best place in the world to be a child.
The Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, in her role as the Minister for Child Poverty Reduction, and the Minister for Children, Hon Tracey Martin, are jointly leading the development of the Government’s first Child Wellbeing Strategy.
The Strategy is an opportunity to significantly improve the lives of New Zealand’s children. It will set out the actions the Government intends to take to improve the wellbeing of all New Zealand children.
The Child Wellbeing Unit (CWU) has been established in DPMC to support Ministers in this work.
The CWU’s role includes:
- supporting the development of the Government Strategy to improve the wellbeing of all children in New Zealand
- working with others to identify actions and policies for improving child wellbeing, including the particular groups of children identified in the proposed legislation
- providing advice on other relevant matters.
What will the Child Wellbeing Strategy do?
The first Child Wellbeing Strategy is currently being developed.
The Strategy is a requirement under the Child Poverty Reduction Bill. In addition to introducing new requirements for setting and reporting on child poverty reduction targets, the Bill requires the government of the day to adopt, publish and review a strategy to address:
- Improving the wellbeing of all children
- Improving, as a particular focus, the wellbeing of children with greater needs
- Reducing child poverty and mitigating the impacts of child poverty and socioeconomic disadvantage experienced by children, and
- Improving the wellbeing of the core populations of interest to Oranga Tamariki.
The Bill requires the Child Wellbeing Strategy to set out what outcomes the government is seeking, say whether those outcomes can be measured and how they can be measured, and include an assessment of the likely effect of government policies on child poverty and socioeconomic disadvantage.
Generally, the Strategy will cover children and young people aged 0-18. In some cases, it will make sense to include the child and mother’s wellbeing during pregnancy, or to include groups of young people over 18 who have particular needs, such as young people under 21 who have been in care under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.
The two attached Cabinet papers from January and May this year outline the process for developing the Strategy, its envisaged scope, and the engagement process now underway to inform the first Strategy. Minor redactions have been made pursuant to the withholding grounds in the Official Information Act 1982.
The Government has signalled that the Strategy will take an evidence-based approach to identify what will make the greatest difference in children’s lives – now and in the future. This will involve working with the government agencies’ chief science advisors, who have prepared an evidence brief on what matters for child wellbeing, which you can read in appendix A of the May 2018 Cabinet paper.
The Strategy will have specific focus areas that are particularly important for child wellbeing, and will drive government policy and action. One of the focus areas will be on reducing child poverty, including how the Strategy seeks to achieve the government’s poverty reduction targets.
The Child Wellbeing Strategy will help progress New Zealand’s commitments to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and other related international obligations and commitments.
What will be the focus areas for the first Strategy?
Government has suggested 16 potential child wellbeing focus areas that could form part of the first Strategy – and we will be engaging with stakeholders on whether these are the right areas. We will also be engaging on the vision statement, draft child wellbeing outcomes and principles that should underpin the Strategy.
The diagram in the following link (also found in appendix B of the May 2018 Cabinet paper) sets out these draft outcomes, principles and the 16 potential focus areas.
Government agencies are beginning some initial policy work in some focus areas on the basis of our current evidence base; particularly where there is strong evidence that addressing these issues will have significant positive impacts, both on child wellbeing in the here and now and on longer term life-course wellbeing, and greater focus is warranted beyond the current policy work programme.
How will the Strategy be developed?
The Child Wellbeing Unit is currently developing an engagement approach for the development of the Strategy.
The development of the Strategy is an opportunity to harness collective goodwill, knowledge and resources to create positive change.
Knowledge and insights into child wellbeing lie with many parts of society, who will be key to the Strategy’s success, including: children and whānau, NGOs, iwi and Māori, central and local government, academia and the business and community sectors.
Some clear themes around child wellbeing have come through government and other engagements in the last few years.
The engagement on the Child Wellbeing Strategy will build on insights that individuals and groups have already shared through these past engagements.
The Government has committed to making sure children have the opportunity to voice their interests and ideas. The Bill therefore requires consultation with children and representative groups of children. Consultation with representatives of iwi and Māori organisations is also required. The engagement approach will include plans for meeting these legislative requirements, as well as plans for seeking input from other important stakeholders.
We will update this website with information on the Child Wellbeing Strategy and upcoming engagement opportunities in the coming months.
When will the final Strategy be ready?
The Child Poverty Reduction Bill requires a strategy to be adopted within 12 months of the Bill being enacted. The Bill is likely to be enacted later this year, meaning the first iteration of the Strategy will be published in 2019.
You can read more about the Child Poverty Reduction Bill, including its progress and information releases, below:
Alongside the Child Wellbeing Unit, the Child Poverty Unit has been established.
Read the Prime Minister’s media release from 24 May 2018: Groups help develop Child Wellbeing Strategy.