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Petition: Raise the age of child protection

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, May 27th, 2015 - 29 comments
Categories: child welfare, labour - Tags: , ,

A petition has been launched by Labour MP Jacinda Ardern on the issue of child protection:

Currently, child protection law means a young person leaves CYFS care at 17, but other state support, like housing and student allowances, doesn’t start until age 18. This means a young person who has been in foster care or a CYFs residence is suddenly left to fend for themselves. For some this means becoming homeless – for others, it can get even worse.

The government is leaving these young people out in the cold.

This isn’t right. But we have a chance to change this right now.

The government is reviewing this part of our child protection laws. If enough of us sign a petition telling the government to raise the child protection age, the minister responsible, Anne Tolley, will be forced to listen to us or face a backlash as hundreds of Kiwi kids are left without any support every year.

Kellie was one of those children.

“Leaving care for me was especially stressful because my birthday is in November, right in the middle of NCEA exams. Thinking back now I remember it was a period filled with confusion and frustration. I wasn’t sure whether I would continue to live with the same foster parents as I had or move to another, or whether I had to move out. No 17 year old should ever have to worry about these issues.” – Kellie

Seventeen is too young to have to fend for yourself without any support. All Kiwi kids deserve to be looked after until they are old enough to support themselves. Click here to sign the petition.

29 comments on “Petition: Raise the age of child protection”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    This just in: National Party defunds CYFS. A mouthpiece from the Prime Minister’s Office issued the following statement:

    “People who make bad choices need to get used to being homeless.”

  2. Lanthanide 2

    “If enough of us sign a petition telling the government to raise the child protection age, the minister responsible, Anne Tolley, will be forced to listen to us or face a backlash as hundreds of Kiwi kids are left without any support every year.”

    Emphasis mine. I can understand why she’s said it, but this is just naive language coming from an opposition MP who thinks they can ‘force’ the government to do anything.

    If you go around saying things that a segment of the population believes is naive / idealistic, they’re inclined to simply write-you-off as someone with your head in the clouds, and give everything else you say less credibility. This can reflect back on the party as a whole as well.

    • Rosemary McDonald 2.1

      “If you go around saying things that a segment of the population believes is naive / idealistic, they’re inclined to simply write-you-off as someone with your head in the clouds, and give everything else you say less credibility. This can reflect back on the party as a whole as well.”

      Firstly…bugger the party…they’re kinda buggered anyway.

      Secondly, if one fails to try and effect much needed change because of some egocentric fear of one’s credibility being diminished….then not much would ever change.

      This is a much needed reform…absolutely vital. These children are jettisoned by the state at a time in their lives that they need all the parental support they can get.

      Sign the petition…let Jacinda deal with any backlash.

      This is, after all politics….not tiddlywinks.

      • Lanthanide 2.1.1

        My point is the language she’s using. That’s all.

        • Colonial Rawshark 2.1.1.1

          Do you know if this one year gap existed under the last Labour Govt?

          I agree with you that the wording appears to put an optimistic spin on what a petition can do on its own. It would be nice to have included in the wording some detail saying that the Opposition was lobbying the government on the matter in other ways as well, and that the petition was just one aspect of a broader campaign.

          • Tracey 2.1.1.1.1

            The Government that was voted out in October/November 2008 you mean? 6 and a half years ago?

          • Macro 2.1.1.1.2

            Actually CV this is an anomaly that has existed for decades. I began work as a Child Welfare Officer – in what was then the Child Welfare Division of the Education Department – later to become CYPS. The age of 17 relates to the then Children’s Court. The law under which the CWD operated was for the protection of Children up to the age of 17. A Young person could not be held to have committed an offence and convicted (unless under exceptional circumstances) until the age of 17. Part of the role of CW was to ensure that children coming to notice of the Police were either placed under supervision, or taken into the care of the state.
            The age of 18 of course comes from the lowering of the age that a person can vote, and with it the ability to draw benefits, serve in the armed forces, etc – much later than the age of 17 for state protection.

        • Rosemary McDonald 2.1.1.2

          Yep…I understand that.

          But sometimes, we get a bit overcautious in our use of language, what we say and how we say it.

          Better to get to the point.

          Focus.

          Jacinda…if you are reading this…perhaps you might take a look overseas…I may be wrong, but some nations support these children well into their twenties.

          As we parents in NZ are suppose to support our kids into their twenties…Student Allowance etc.

          CYFs went from being way too indulgent with its charges (we used to call it ‘state ward syndrome’) to being really quite draconian.

          Minimal reimbursement to foster parents, a struggle to get $$$ for uniforms and stationary and they refused to contribute towards the “voluntary” school donations.

          Part of the kick ’em when they’re down and toughen them up culture.

          How many former foster children in prison???

          This is seriously important shit.

    • Tracey 2.2

      Well, Labour has been sending petitions to their online subscribers for many months. I have watched as some of those issues get elevated to public discourse and some have led to Government announcements. I am NOT saying therefore that Labour gets the credit, I am saying that this is a poll driven / public opinion given government.

      I applaud the efforts being put into these petitions by LP and it is 1 way to connect and perhaps influence change without being in government. BUT electronic is not the only form of connecting with possible supporters or current supporters.

      • Lanthanide 2.2.1

        As CV said above, if they do have a wider campaign going on, they should mention it here. And similarly as you’ve said, if they have had petitions that have resulted in public discussions and even government action, then again Jacinda should reference them in this blurb.

        It’s quite easy to say “Just like petition X resulted in the government doing Y, and petition Z caught the medias attention, we hope that with enough signatures on this new petition A we can prompt the government to take this issue seriously and make the proper changes”. Get rid of the strident-sounding “backlash” and “force” words.

        • Of course if they did do as suggested in your 2nd paragraph you’d be complaining that Labour is pussy-footing around the issue and not taking the fight to the government.

          If you don’t believe in the power of mass backlash to force governments to take action when they otherwise would not, may I suggest you are on the wrong end of the political spectrum?

          • Bob 2.2.1.1.1

            “If you don’t believe in the power of mass backlash to force governments to take action when they otherwise would not, may I suggest you are on the wrong end of the political spectrum?”
            Perhaps he is part of the ‘silent majority’ rather than the ‘vocal minority’ that continually lose sight of what they are actually trying to achieve and turn the public against them. Using perceived ‘mass backlash’ (just because the 20 people around you are yelling with you doesn’t make you a majority) and ‘force’ often has a negative effect on your overall cause (see Sue Bradford’s rent-a-crowd at the post budget protest as a prime example).
            Lanthanide is pointing to positive re-enforcement as a way to win over voters, orders of magnitude more likely to work than yelling at people, maybe you should listen…or continue yelling, your call.

          • Lanthanide 2.2.1.1.2

            Of course if they did do as suggested in your 2nd paragraph you’d be complaining that Labour is pussy-footing around the issue and not taking the fight to the government.

            No, I wouldn’t.

    • John Shears 2.3

      I have signed have you ?
      It’s a petition , an attempt to get a point across.
      I care about children who have no parents.
      The state should too.

      • Lanthanide 2.3.1

        Labour has a general communications problem.

        This is just one tiny little symptom of the same thing – putting out press releases using idealistic language that will turn some people off from listening to you.

        People who already agree are going to sign the petition regardless of what the press release says. People who are on the fence or disagree may see the message as overblown and “a waste of time” and do nothing.

        • Lanthanide 2.3.1.1

          Ran out of time to edit:

          I suspect that Jacinda probably wrote this herself and it may not have had much in the way of peer-review. That in itself could highlight a process issue – if there was a communications team that reviewed all releases, they can come up with a consistent tone and method of communication. Perhaps they already have such a team, in which case I disagree with how they’re functioning.

  3. Bob 3

    Done.

    I agree with Lanthanide that Jacinda is being naive thinking this will FORCE the Government to do anything, but I also think it is a change that this Government would be willing to make if enough people get behind it.
    It is reasonably low cost change (as, according to this release, it would only affect a matter of hundreds of people) and has a big social upside long term, why wouldn’t they change the legislation?

    • Tracey 3.1

      The government overnight changed the notification to victims that the person who offended against them has been released, to making sure they ARE notified. OVER NIGHT. This is indeed a public opinion driven Government. How many are impacted by their murderer being released without their knowledge? A very small number. For the record it is, imo, a change that should never have been needed cos it was in place… that is not my point.

      • Philip Ferguson 3.1.1

        Not sure what you mean when you ask, “How many are impacted by their murderer being released without their knowledge?”

        How would someone be notified that their murderer was released without their knowledge???

  4. T Chris 4

    “The government overnight changed the notification to victims that the person who offended against them has been released, to making sure they ARE notified. ”

    What is the difference?

    • Tracey 4.1

      What???

      I see your comment about Ganesh’s article and you don’t get the point. There is a pattern emerging.

      My point is they can do somethings instantly…

      And others take months and years. The common thread is NOT the number of people impacted

  5. Philip Ferguson 5

    I won’t be signing this petition and I actually find it quite perverse to want to make people legally children until they are 18.

    Good grief, this is 2015.

    The demand should be coming from the other end – to make 17 the age for receiving entitlements.

    Once upon a time a lot of us looked forward to leaving school at 16, so we could start to plan on leaving home and becoming independent/autonomous members of society. Now, children are wrapped in cotton wool, enfeebled and kept in a kind of suspended childhood. A colleague of mine used to refer to many adolescents of today as suffering “learned dependency” as parents and state treat them as fragile and don’t help them grow up.

    I should add that Ardern’s petition fits Labour’s approach of treating people as ‘vulnerable’, as victims etc and lacking in agency.

    Give people the resources they need, don’t treat them like helpless infants!

    Phil

    • Philip Ferguson 5.1

      OOps, my co-worker called it “learned helplessness” not learned dependency.

      Phil

      • miravox 5.1.1

        I agree almost entirely Philip, however, the state only want the learned helplessness bit so it can foist costs of young adults who should be making their way in the world back on to parents. Otherwise it’s fend for yourself you losers, and therein lies the problem with a gap between leaving care and state support.

        I imagine there is someway around the problem – e.g. an independent living allowance? Otherwise we’d have more of these young people begging in the streets. Kellie’s story in the information here states ‘there was a period of confusion’ not that she did not get assistance of some form. If she did get assistance, what was it? Is this an administrative problem where 17 year-olds have to go through extra hoops to get some kind of support? Or is there never any support?

        I feel this petition notification doesn’t give anywhere near enough information. Nor could I find a recent press release on the Labour website to go with it that may have provided more information.

        I have petition fatigue, btw, isn’t there another method of building support? Difficult I know, without finding another John Campbell, but surely there is some celeb or whoever who knows someone who knows someone that can tell what it’s like to be caught in this limbo. Maybe a persuasive banging on about it in public at universities, polytechs etc (if that is not already being done). Online petitions from politicians have a place, but aren’t really making enough noise when they don’t have a public groundswell (just imo of course), and the more there are the less noise they get, I suspect. At the very least, a press release with some priority would be expected? Social media only goes so far in informing the unconverted.

        Although I’m being critical, as someone who received income support to enable living independently at a young age, I absolutely agree young people need financial and social support. But agree more that these young people require assistance to live as young adults, not be redefined as children.

    • Bill 5.2

      Agree. The other end of the problem needs addressed,

      Another point. To what extent do these petitions coming from Labour present the government with free polling data? Pretty sure they could do rough and ready extrapolations from them and act accordingly. Just a thought.

      • Tracey 5.2.1

        I think they have been doing that Bill… and we see the impact from time to time including the recent budget.

        I would rater see a little less suffering now, as a result of them taking the notions, than wait and hope that in 2 and a half years Labour might do the same thing, or better.

      • Given petitions are self-selected and I doubt Labour is handing over the names and locations of signers to the goverment, I’m not sure why it would count as “free polling data”. 50,000 people signing something is 50,000 people signing something.

    • Tracey 5.3

      Once upon a time there were jobs for all 15 year olds leaving school.

  6. her 6

    Who’s idea was that?
    Do you think the government hires someone to think of the worst thing they could do and then do it?

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