6 Sep 2005

NICCY calls for Review to make sure children and young people’s voices are heard

THE Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Nigel Williams, today told a major conference that the Review of Public Administration must make sure services for children are effective and accountable.

Mr Williams, speaking at the Pathways to Access and Participation conference at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast, called for future public services to be responsive to the needs and views of all children and young people.

“I welcome the work that the Review of Public Administration team has been undertaking over the summer to hear the views of children and young people,” he said. “The lives of our children and young people are touched by almost all of our public services – from education and health; through to benefits and social services; from transport through to play and leisure services.

“It is now vital that those responsible for shaping future services make sure that young people’s voices and opinions are enshrined in all future structures.”

Mr Williams said that there was a danger Northern Ireland was falling behind initiatives elsewhere in the UK to put children at the centre of service development.

“In England and Wales there has been a tremendous effort to improve services through the Every Child Matters initiative,” he said.

“I believe that the Review of Public Administration must take this opportunity to carefully examine how children’s services are delivered.

“I believe that the RPA should test proposals for changes in structures against whether they will promote a child centred approach; whether key services for children will either be delivered by the same political authority or by agencies operating within the same boundaries; and whether young people will have a greater input to those taking decisions about services they receive.”

The Commissioner said that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was clear that children should have a say in the decisions that affect their lives.

Notes for Editors

Mr Williams was speaking at the Review of Public Administration’s Pathways to Access Conference at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast. More information on the conference is available at www.rpani.gov.uk.

The full text of Mr Williams speech is available here.

For further information on the work of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, please visit www.niccy.org.