Background & Legislation

Working together, sharing the responsibility.

This page sets out the background and legislation behind the Children’s Action Plan.

Quick links:

Children’s Action Plan Timeline

The timeline below shows significant events for the Children’s Action Plan over the past six years - from its beginning in the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children to the recent announcement for the new  Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki. (external link)

Timeline picture

The Green Paper for Vulnerable Children (July 2011)

[PDF, 312 KB]The Green Paper for Vulnerable Children was launched by the Minister for Social Development in July 2011.

The Green Paper asked New Zealanders to focus on our most vulnerable children: how we care for and protect them, the trade-offs and sacrifices we’re prepared to make, and the opportunities we want them to have. The consultation process was an opportunity to consider and debate the issues.
Close to 10,000 public submissions were received on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children. These submissions informed the White Paper for Vulnerable Children, which was released in October 2012 together with the Children’s Action Plan.

Green Paper for Vulnerable Children resources:

The White Paper for Vulnerable Children (October 2012)

[PDF, 2.2 MB]The White Paper for Vulnerable Children sets out a programme of change that will shine a light on abuse, neglect, and harm by identifying our most vulnerable children and targeting services to them to ensure they get the protection and support they need.

These changes are the result of months of research and discussion, and have drawn on the public’s response to the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children, domestic and international research, and other evidence, including investigations into the killing of Chris and Cru Kahui, and the subsequent coroner’s report.

The White Paper is split into two volumes:

The Children’s Action Plan (October 2012)

The Children’s Action Plan sits behind the White Paper which targets vulnerable children who are at risk of harm now or in the future. It contains comprehensive solutions to complex problems. It lists the actions that will be completed to protect children, and when each action will be achieved.

These solutions included legislative changes, information sharing, tracking vulnerable children, tougher penalties and monitoring of child abusers, screening those who work with children, a free child protect phone line, public awareness campaigns, local children’s teams and shared responsibilities for all New Zealanders.


The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 (July 2014)

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 made sweeping changes to protect vulnerable children and help them thrive, achieve and belong.

On 14 July the Vulnerable Children Act and other associated legislation passed into law. The legislation includes

  • one new stand-alone Act, the Vulnerable Children Act
  • amendments to the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 and the KiwiSaver Act 2006

The heads of six government departments are now accountable for protecting and improving the lives of vulnerable children. NZ Police, the Ministries of Health, Education, Justice, and Social Development and the Department of Corrections have new, legislated responsibilities.

Child protection policies have been adopted as standard by the agencies above along with Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (Housing), District Health Boards and school Boards of Trustees. Safety checking (screening and vetting) of every person in the central government children’s workforce has been introduced and people with serious convictions are prohibited from working closely with children, unless they are granted an exemption.

These changes are about a better life for the most vulnerable children in New Zealand.


Cabinet Papers

Cabinet Papers relating to the White Paper and Children’s Action Plan: