I’ve set up this website to provide some background to the things that matter for children this election year. I’m one of the many contributors to ‘Tick for Kids’ that is asking people to consider children when they vote on 20th September. So, you will see papers on child poverty and child ill-treatment, the place of children and how it can be better secured and the importance of children to our well-being as individuals and as a society. There will be posts on issues of the day as well.
I am a children’s advocate and paediatrician who graduated from clinical doctoring to consideration of children in a broader context. I was with Plunket for some years. When the position of Commissioner for Children was established in 1989 I was appointed to the job. After the five-year term ended I took on various projects and interests, convening an international child abuse conference in Auckland in 1998 and helping set up and govern the ‘What’s Up’ Helpline for children, among other things.
From 2001 I worked for the Domestic Violence Centre (now S.H.I.N.E.) and from 2002 I was Senior Lecturer/ Senior Researcher at the Institute of Public Policy at AUT University. I maintain a connection there as Research Associate.
During my term as Children’s Commissioner it became clear that there was no consistent, coherent story being told publicly and in the political sphere on behalf of children as there was for other interest groups. It’s not that there wasn’t concern for children but there was not a strong narrative of children’s lives that could be translated into integrated policies for them. That is still the case although things have improved.