NEW Government legislation will discriminate against those under the age of 16 in Northern Ireland.
The proposed legislation is set to put vital children’s services at risk as it further excludes young people from the provision of Goods, Facilities and Services.
The consultation ends on October 8th and there are plans to bring the legislation to the Assembly for Accelerated Passage despite the fact that the Government has previously made a commitment to introduce legislation which aims to end Age Discrimination.
After a consultation that discussed banning Age Discrimination in the provision of Goods, Facilities and Services between the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma, was quick to provide her advice to the Government.
In her response Koulla Yiasouma drew attention to how children’s services are commonly underfunded and illustrated examples from across the world where protection from discrimination for under 16s has been successfully introduced, including Australia, Belgium and Canada.
She said: “Children make up almost a quarter of the population, and we know that there are high levels of mental ill health, yet only 7.8% of mental health spending goes on the services so many of our young people need.”
“The fact that since 2012 the Government knows all this, has heard the evidence, has received legal opinion and still released their proposals which discriminate against under 16s, renders this consultation almost meaningless, and puts OFMDFM at odds with the guidance on consulting and significant recent legal precedent.”
However, the Commissioner went on to say: “Even before the consultation was issued ministers admitted publicly that they had already decided to exclude children and young people.
“The consequences of this political decision could place already strained children’s services at risk of further cuts.”
For more information on the work of the Northern Ireland Children’s Commissioner log onto www.niccy.org
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The Government and ‘relevant authorities’ provide services for children and young people such as health, education and justice. The Commissioner’s job is to check they do this in a way that is in the best interests of children and young people.
She does this by:
- Advising government – The Commissioner advises government on the policies, legislation (laws) and services it provides, for children and young people.
- Monitoring – The Commissioner monitors what government does for children and young people, to challenge them to deliver what children need
- Holding government to account – when the Commissioner believes not enough is being done for children and young people, she asks them to do better and to tell her what they did