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UNICEF says changes protecting vulnerable Kiwi kids could breach children's rights


New legislation overhauling how New Zealand protects vulnerable children could be breaching the rights of children, according to UNICEF.

UNICEF is due to make a submission to the Select Committee today to outline its concerns over the new law. Source: Breakfast

UNICEF has slammed the Government's Children, Young Person and Their Families bill, saying "it is not written well enough" and is at risk of breaching the UN Convention on Rights of the Child. 

The bill covers a range of legislative reforms to support the Ministry for Vulnerable Children and is set to create a more child-centred operating model to meet the needs of children, young people and their families. 

However, UNICEF says it lacks accountability and meaningful language and is making a submission to the Select Committee today to outline its concerns over the new law. 

UNICEF Child Rights Advocate Dr Prudence Stone told TV 1's Breakfast programme this morning that while it is a "big, bold step in the right direction", the legislation has "a lot of inconsistencies".

"It is not like leaky homes where the builder might have used poor materials but the buyer could have done some diligence before, the architect might have had a poor design or was it the government's fault," Dr Stone said.

"It's not like that with children. New Zealand has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child which states very clearly that buck stops with government."

She said that UNICEF has two main concerns over the accountability of children and culture change. 

"It is going to be an all of government approach that needs to happen. But first things first, the accountability in this legislation is iffy at best.

"What this legislation is intending to do, is to protect children.

"That's why we have the legislation on the table and UNICEF is here to hold up a child rights lens and help and support and inform this government to make sure this legislation is written right."