Judge Andrew Becroft has been appointed as the new Children’s Commissioner as announced by Social Development Minister Anne Tolley on Tuesday (3 May).
Judge Becroft will take up the role in July. He will have to retire from his current position as New Zealand’s Principal Youth Court Judge prior to taking up his new appointment as the two roles may present conflict if he advocates for government policy.
The Children’s Commission is an independent body pushing for the rights, interests and wellbeing of New Zealand children, Tolley said.
She expressed her faith in Judge Becroft’s ability in his new role.
“I have no doubt he is the right person at the right time, and that he will do a fantastic job,” she said.
“His input will be invaluable as we transform our care and protection system through the radical changes I recently announced, to focus on the short and long-term wellbeing of our children through to adulthood.”
These changes include major state care reforms and a complete overhaul of Child, Youth and Family which will focus on five core services: prevention, intensive intervention, care support services, transition support and a youth justice service aimed at preventing offending and reoffending.
Tolley also explained why she thought Judge Becroft was suitable for the role.
“Judge Becroft’s experience of dealing with troubled and at-risk young people will be vital in the development of a youth justice service aimed at preventing offending and reoffending as part of the major overhaul.
“His opinions will also be important as we investigate raising the youth justice age to include 17 year olds.”
Judge Becroft has been appointed full-time for a two-year term, she added. He will also act as advisor, giving suggestions on how the Children’s Commissioner can evolve the role as these new strategies for youth care and protection are brought into place.
Talking to Stuff.co.nz
, Judge Becroft said his appointment was a “genuine privilege at a crucial time”.
While he was reluctant to talk to the paper about his key areas of focus in his new role, the Judge said that while New Zealand had a proud history of producing talented youths, the country had failed badly for those at the bottom.
“I think we need to be much more honest that in our communities in all our suburbs, some very serious neglect and abuse is occurring. There needs to be more debate about it.”