Ministry for Vulnerable Children name change welcomed

Andrew Becroft.
Andrew Becroft. Photo credit: The Nation

The Children's Commissioner is backing a name change for the Ministry for Vulnerable Children.

On Thursday, Newshub reported the new Government was planning to drop the word 'vulnerable' from the ministry's name. Incoming Minister for Children Tracey Martin later confirmed the change was coming, tweeting: "I have just been sworn in as the Minister for Children. Not Vulnerable but all children."

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft criticised the ministry's name last year, opting instead to only call it by its Māori name - Oranga Tamariki - which translates as 'the wellbeing of our young'.

He's welcoming the ministry's new moniker, calling it "important and symbolic".

"We said at the time that calling some children 'vulnerable' risked labelling and stigmatising the group who needed the most help, and creating a distance between the community and those trying to help," Mr Becroft told Newshub.

"Children and young people told us they didn't like the name, and the United Nations Committee for the Rights of the Child even said in their Country Report that it was an inappropriate name."

A silver lining is the debate has promoted use of the Māori name, says Mr Becroft, which he plans to continue using regardless. He doesn't expect the cost of the change to be significant.

"We understand that the rebranding hasn't necessarily been completed across the country and so there is still time to update with this new name. We can then consign the old name to history and look forward to the future."

As of Friday morning, both the Oranga Tamariki and Ministry for Social Development websites still used the word 'vulnerable'.

Minister for Child Poverty Reduction Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni were too busy with Thursday's swearing-in ceremony and the new Government's first Cabinet meeting to respond to requests for comment.


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