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Digest No. 2130

Vulnerable Children Bill 2013 (2014 No 150-2)

Date of Introduction: 2 September 2013
Portfolio: Social Development
Select Committee: Social Services
Date report presented: 25 March 2014
Published: 10 April 2014by John McSoriley BA LL.B, BarristerLegislative AnalystP: (04) 817-9626 (Ext. 9626) Caution: This Digest was prepared to assist consideration of the Bill by members of Parliament. It has no official status.Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, it should not be taken as a complete or authoritative guide to the Bill. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Purpose

The aim of the Bill is to amend existing Acts “to protect and improve the well-being of vulnerable children” especially in the “key result area of reducing the number of assaults on children”.

The Bill is intended to result in two new Acts: the Vulnerable Children Act and the Child Harm Prevention Orders Act. It also amends the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 (the CYPF Act) and the KiwiSaver Act 2006 (the KiwiSaver Act). [1]  

The Bill as introduced is described in Bills Digest No 2089.

Main changes

Child protection policies

The bar-2 Bill includes in the definition of “school board” the managers of a private school that is registered under Section 35A of the Education Act 1989 (Part 1, Subpart 2, Clause 15, amending definition of “school board”).

Comment

“This makes it clear that private schools, like state schools and partnership schools kura hourua, would be required to have child protection policies.” [2]  

Children’s worker safety checking: specified offences

The Bill, inter alia, prevents a specified organisation from employing or engaging as a core worker a person who had been convicted of a specified offence.

The bar-2 Bill adds the following sections of the Crimes Act 1961 to the list of offences: Section 98 (dealing in slaves); Section 98AA (dealing in people under 18 for sexual exploitation); Section 133 (indecency with girl under 12); Section 139 (indecent act between woman and girl); Section 140 (indecency with boy under 12); Section 140A (indecency with boy between 12 and 16); Section 141 (indecent assault on man or boy); Section 142A (compelling indecent act with animal); Section 143 (bestiality); Section 172 (punishment of murder); Section 182 (killing of unborn child); Section 204A (female genital mutilation); Section 204B (further offences relating to female genital mutilation); and Section 209 (kidnapping).

The bar-2 Bill also adds the following sections of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classifications Act 1993 to the list of specified offences: Section 124 (offences relating to objectionable publications, involving knowledge); Section 127(4) (exhibition to persons under 18); and Section 131A (offences relating to possession of objectionable publications, involving knowledge).

An offence against Section 209(1A) of the Customs and Excise Act 1996 is also listed as a specified offence.

Section 167 (Murder) and Section 171 (Manslaughter) are removed from the list of specified offences (Part 1, Subpart 3, amending Clause 23; amending Schedule 2 of the Bill).

Specified organisations

The Bill as introduced provides that specified organisations are the State services (as defined in the State Sector Act 1988), and individuals and organisations funded by any of the State services to provide regulated activities, that employ or engage children's workers to perform regulated activities. Local authorities, and individuals and organisations funded by local authorities to provide regulated activities, may be declared to be specified organisations by regulations.

The bar-2 Bill amends the definition “specified organisation” that funding may be directly or indirectly provided by state or local authorities. The bar-2 Bill provides that individuals funded under individual arrangements (“such as, for example, people funded by ACC to provide services to their own children” [3]   ), are not caught by the definition of “specified organisation”.

The bar-2 Bill also provides that so that local authorities, and organisations they fund, become “specified organisations” two years after the commencement of Part 1, subpart 3, unless they were declared to be such earlier, by regulation (Part 1, Subpart 3, amending Clause 24).

Regulated services

The bar-2 Bill redrafts and considerably expands the description of activities which are now to be called “regulated services” instead of “regulated activities” (Part 1, Subpart 3, amending Clause 23).

Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989

The Bill as introduced makes amendments to the Children, Young Persons, and their Families Act 1989 and the Kiwisaver Act 2006 in relation to:

  • new special guardianship provisions to provide increased security for children entering “Home for Life” placements;

  • a requirement to consider requests for support from young people leaving State care to live independently, and provide that support in certain circumstances;

  • rebalancing the care and protection principles to ensure that the principles are as child-centred and as clear as possible;

  • reinvigorating and refocusing the family group conference so that its processes support the best possible outcomes for children and young people in need of care and protection;

  • changing family group conference plans and court reports and plans to give parents more clarity on the changes they need to make to meet their child’s care and protection needs:

  • placing an onus on a parent of a subsequent child to demonstrate that he or she is safe to parent, if a child or young person in the parent’s care was permanently removed due to abuse or neglect or the parent has been convicted of the murder, manslaughter, or infanticide of a child or young person in the parent’s care;

  • enabling a guardian appointed under the CYPF Act to enrol children and young persons in KiwiSaver, and make decisions relating to a KiwiSaver account, without needing to obtain the consent of other guardians.

The bar-2 Bill makes further amendments in relation to: the principles of the Act; the definition of “permanent parent” (i.e. by changing reference from rights under a parenting order to a person having day-today” care of the child); providing for non-financial as well as financial support; protecting subsequent children, and in relation to helping young people achieve independence (Part 3, Subparts 1 and 2, Clauses 100-141).

Copyright: © NZ Parliamentary Library, 2014
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence. In essence, you are free to copy, distribute and adapt the work, as long as you attribute the work to the Parliamentary Library and abide by the other licence terms. To view a copy of this licence, visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/nz/.

  1. Vulnerable Children Bill, 2013 No 150-1, Explanatory note, General policy statement, p. 1.   [back]
  2. Vulnerable Children Bill, 2014 No 150-2, As reported from the Social Services Committee, Commentary, p. 4.   [back]
  3. Ibid., p. 5.   [back]