New Zealand Labour Party

Raising the age the right thing to do

The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern

"The Government indicated some time ago that they were going to look at a further increase in the age young people in care could access support, and we signalled our support for the move at the time.

"For too many young people, the State is sadly their parent, but it certainly hasn't acted like one.  No parent cuts off their child at a particular age, completely closing the door to any ongoing support. This announcement will give young people the option to return for assistance or support at the age they need it.

"I hope this announcement sets the bar for another move we have long advocated for- a lift in the age of the youth courts’ jurisdiction to 18. There is sadly plenty of crossover between those young people in care and protection and the youth justice system. Not only does separating these two ages in law mean that New Zealand will continue to breach the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, it also presents practical difficulties.

“As the Children’s Commissioner and past Youth Court Judge Andrew Beecroft pointed out ‘The change half-step, and not full step, to include youth justice seems to us to be burdensome.’

“The Government has done the right thing today, and I hope they do again when it comes to the Youth Court, “ says Jacinda Ardern.