Julie Morgan AM, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services
On behalf of the Welsh Government, I welcome the Annual Report from the Children’s Commissioner for Wales. We recognise the breadth and importance of the work that the Commissioner continues to undertake on behalf of our children and young people. The Commissioner acts as an independent champion of children’s rights and wellbeing, advocating their views and ensuring that their voices are heard. Highlighting the work of the Commissioner is particularly important this year - the year that marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
As a government, we are proud of our record of promoting Children’s Rights and working to ensure that all of our children have the best start in life. The Welsh Government has an enduring commitment to raise awareness and embed children’s rights in policy and practice in Wales. Our commitment to children’s rights has been underpinned by a range of work undertaken on children’s participation under Article 12 of the UNCRC, which ensures children and young people are consulted and involved in decisions that affect them.
The participation of children and young people continues to be key in the development and delivery of our legislation, policies and programmes. Recent work to improve participation includes progress towards lowering the voting age in Wales to 16, the establishment of a Youth Parliament and the formal consultation of children and young people about Brexit - Wales remains the only nation to have consulted with children and young people on this issue.
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales published her 2018-19 Annual Report on 4 October 2019. The Report sets out the work undertaken by her office during the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. In her report, the Commissioner has recognised the progress made by the Welsh Government in legislating for the abolition of reasonable punishment. This Bill takes our commitment to help protect children’s rights a step further and, if passed, will help end the physical punishment of children in Wales.
The Commissioner’s Annual Report includes 14 recommendations for the Welsh Government. The document published today sets out the Welsh Government’s response to each recommendation alongside information on the actions that we have already taken or intend to take.
The National Assembly will have the opportunity to debate the Commissioner’s Report in plenary on 10 December 2019 and I very much welcome their consideration of this report. As a Government we will continue to work collaboratively with the Commissioner and others for the benefit of children and young people by putting their rights and wellbeing at the heart of everything we do.