Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Health and Social Services
The Welsh Government believes every child and young person is important. Each one should have the best start in life, the best possible chance to grow up free from poverty or harm and with the support they need to reach their full potential.
We continue to champion children’s rights and are working towards a time when every child and young person knows about and understands the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
The Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011 is testament to this. It has placed a duty on Welsh Ministers to have due regard to the UNCRC and its Optional Protocols when making decisions about proposed legislation and policies and any review to existing legislation and policies.
By placing children’s rights at the heart of our policy and legislation, it will influence the delivery of services and improve the outcomes for Children and Young People. Our success will be measured by the impact it has on the lives of children, young people and families.
As of 1 May 2012, when the duty came into force, we have put in place arrangements to ensure we comply with the duties in the Measure. These arrangements were detailed in our Children’s Rights Scheme which was approved by Assembly Members on 27 March 2012.
Section 4 of the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011 states that Welsh Ministers must publish a report detailing how we have complied with the due regard duty under Section 1.
Today, I am pleased to publish the first report on our compliance arrangements as set out in our Children’s Rights Scheme.
The report shows how we have had due regard to children’s rights when developing or reviewing policy and legislation and the monitoring and support occurring in Welsh Government thus far. There is also a section that highlights the emerging impact of the duty. Despite there only being nine months since the Measure came into force and the Children’s Rights Scheme being implemented, there has been a good deal of progress.
I would also like to take this opportunity to update you on our progress on other commitments within the Measure.
In relation to Section 5, the duty to develop and promote knowledge and understanding of the UNCRC, the Welsh Government supported an international Conference at Swansea University – Taking the Rights Steps - in June 2012. It was an extremely positive launch pad to the new duty being in place and helped to enhance our working relationships with key stakeholders in children's rights both domestically and on an international stage.
In addition, we are at this time funding ‘train the trainer’ sessions across Wales. This is to ensure those who have a role in training professionals who work with children and young people, have themselves an understanding of the UNCRC to cascade to their students. This includes trainers within health, police, immigration and childcare and we have had to date, an excellent response with significant demand.
We have also launched an e-learning package for professionals that has been widely promoted, re-visited the UNCRC Getting it Rights website and we will shortly be launching a mobile App to promote the UNCRC and inform children and young people of services to support them to access their rights.
In relation to section 7 which states we must consult with stakeholders on the potential application of the due regard duty for 18–24 year olds in Wales, our consultation process is now complete and we are currently analysing the results. I will make a further statement on this in due course.
I also want to take the opportunity to stress that while the Measure has only been in force a short time, the Welsh Government’s commitment in relation to implementing and realising children’s rights has been in place for years. To this end, I am pleased to publish an update on our progress in relation to the recommendations made by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in their concluding observations in 2008.
The Welsh Government’s Getting it Right Action Plan has been a vehicle to keep these recommendations in the forefront of our minds when developing our policies and legislation. The Getting it Right update 2013 is now available on the Welsh Government website.
We will continue working with external stakeholders with expertise in children’s rights both domestically and internationally. It is important we look to develop our model and continue to monitor its suitability and sustainability for the task ahead.
Developing and mainstreaming a child rights culture within the work of Welsh Government, and ultimately within the wider society of Wales, is our longer term aim. We have had much interest in our legislation and arrangements from countries such as Scotland, Canada and Argentina. I am proud we have created world class legislation on children’s rights and that we in Wales are again leading the way.