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Safety for children - new thinking - new approaches - Norræn ráðstefna um málefni barna

Ávarp Ásmundar Einars Daðasonar, félags- og jafnréttismálaráðherra á norrænni ráðstefnu um málefni barna
Ráðstefnan var haldin í Hörpu, dagana 5. - 7. september.

(Ávarpið er birt með fyrirvara um að ráðherra kunni að hafa vikið
frá skrifuðum texta við flutning þess)

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honor to be here with you today to discuss child welfare.

First of all, I would like to congratulate all of us on the 20th anniversary of Barnahús, and I would especially like to thank the staff of Barnahús for their professional, child-friendly and energetic contribution to the field of Child Protection.

The key words for this Nordic Conference on Child Welfare are quite appropriate:

Safety for children - new thinking - new approaches.

How can we contribute to equality in child protection and ensure quality?

Child Protection and the Welfare of children in general are very close to my heart. I have put a strong focus on Child Protection and Early Intervention from day one as Minister of Social Affairs and Equality.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history. It requires states to take all appropriate (legislative, administrative, social and educational) measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse. Such protective measures should, among other things, include effective social programs to provide necessary support for the child.

The welfare of children worldwide has improved since the implementation of the Convention, such as declining infant mortality and rising school enrollment across the globe, however much remains to be done. Too many children still do not enjoy their full rights on par with their peers.

The Convention stresses the right of the child to be heard. We must listen to children and enable them to put forward their wishes and feelings and to convey difficult experiences as well as pleasant ones. The Council of Europe published a report in 2016 in order to establish the most important rights issues for children in Europe based on available research. The report covers challenges to children today and asks what do children think:

According to the report, children in Europe overwhelmingly wish to be heard and to have some influence on matters regarding their rights.

Secondly, children put enormous value their families and friends, and this has consequences for the enjoyment of their rights; Service providers should consider how to better involve families where children require information for example about legal proceedings.

Thirdly, according to the report, children recognize that adequate protection of their rights requires sufficient allocation of public resources, particularly targeting more marginalized groups. They have concerns about the current economic situation and cuts in expenditure. Resources are highly relevant to childrens’ recommendations on improving rights provisions, as children would like the professionals with whom they come into contact to have appropriate training to ensure that their rights are upheld.

The community as a whole is responsible for the welfare and upbringing of children; the family, the health care system, the schools and social services as well as the formal child protection, (it has been said many times that it takes a village to bring up a child).

In this aspect it is vital to identify as early as possible any serious difficulties a child is facing and intervene as soon as possible. For this purpose, I held a well received and well attended conference last May focusing on EARLY INTERVENTION. Emphasis was placed on interdisciplinary approach from many areas of child services. I firmly believe that this approach is the proper and definitely the most child-friendly process in assisting children and their families.

As a minister for child protection and local authorities’ social services, my goal is to improve the administration and infrastructure of the services to children in general in Iceland as well as to improve the child protection services.

I would like to share my plans with you here today.

Firstly, I have decided to review, as a whole, the services provided to children in Iceland. A special project manager has been hired to lead this work with the aim of securing early identification and early intervention within the social services in general as well as in other areas of children‘s services such as in schools and within health care.

Secondly, I have formed a group of specialists to review our policy in child protection and the group shall also present a new policy with a vision up to the year 2030. This work is led by an experienced consulting agency. The results from this group will form a foundation for the revision of our child protection legislation.

Thirdly, I have initiated a co-operation between disciplines – a statement (that will be) signed by myself as well as the ministers of health, justice, education and the minister of local authorities as well the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities. The aim of the statement is to break down the walls between service providers in order to secure comprehensive and coordinated services for children. Together we will create an action plan for this purpose. The main goal is to place the needs of children at the foreground and to co-operate towards their welfare in all service areas.

Last but not least, a group of parliamentarians will be formed to engage in this work, consisting of members from all political parties that form the Icelandic Parliament today.

My vision is to build a society that is alert to the welfare of children at all times.

Dear guests,

The Program for this Nordic Congress on Child Welfare is both interesting and challenging. We are fortunate to have a group of such distinguished and highly qualified speakers on the agenda.  

It is my pleasure to open the Nordic Congress on Child Welfare - Safety for children - new thinking - new approaches.

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