playgroundYou may or may not be aware that our Auckland Council has made children their first priority. In the Auckland Plan, the super-city’s primary planning document, the top priority in chapter 1, strategic direction 1, is “Put children and young people first”. The plan states:

Our children and young people are the top priority. As their guardians, it is our responsibility to ensure that every child can reach his/her full potential. All Auckland children are entitled to the basic needs of love, shelter, food and safety, as well as education and skill development, to instil confidence and pride. We need strong, healthy communities to achieve this. This Plan emphasises that families, whānau and the wider community share these responsibilities. (link to Chapter 1 of the Auckland Plan)

 You might ask of course, if you’re a suitably sceptical or questioning person, what this actually means and how they are planning on doing this in reality. In checking this out I’ve found some interesting evidence.

1.         They are working towards recognition as a Child Friendly City. This is a UNICEF initiative with a history back to 1992 when the role of local government in child wellbeing was recognised by an international mayoral group. In 1996 a UN Conference on Human Settlements passed a resolution declaring that the well-being of children is the ultimate indicator of a healthy habitat, a democratic society and good governance. UNICEF launched Child Friendly City  Initiative as a direct result. Here in New Zealand, Auckland and Whangarei have committed themselves into a 4-step accreditation and monitoring process, which involves community consultation and policy-development that puts children first consistently.

 2.         They’ve produced an interesting publication called Children and Young People in Auckland, comprising articles by prominent child and youth advocates and peppered with comments from children and young people gathered during the Council’s community consultation to the Auckland Plan. These articles emphasise the needs of particular groups, as do parts of the Plan.

3.         They’ve set up a 21 member Youth Advisory Panel (YAP), representing each of the Local Board areas, which is involved in a number of projects aimed at ensuring youth are consulted and contributing to policy and practice related to them. In collaboration with YAP, they are developing a Children and Young People’s Strategic Action Plan, which includes 7 goals concerned with making children and young people a consistent priority[iv].

4.         They’re working with industry and other employers to encourage employment opportunities for young people in an initiative called Youth Connections.

5.         And, finally, the Tick for Kids campaign, jointly run by a number of significant child and youth focused groups, and supportive of CFC, was launched 10 days ago with a focus on putting children at the centre of local body elections. To this effect they are approaching all candidates and asking for them to be champions for children and young people in their campaigning [details of candidates who have signed as at 3 September here]. They intend to follow up with an agenda of implementation of child-friendly policies and practices.

 I find this cheering and feel we should support the Council in advancing their progress in this field.

Deborah Yates, City Vision Candidate for Waitemata Local Board

Deborah writes a weekly blog on standing up for vulnerable children for the WAVES Trust network. These can be accessed on  here