The Malta Independent 18 June 2024, Tuesday
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Government launches public consultation for second Children’s Policy Framework for 2024-2030

Semira Abbas Shalan Monday, 20 November 2023, 13:12 Last update: about 8 months ago

Government on Monday launched the public consultation process for the second Children’s Policy Framework, for the years 2024 to 2030, introducing also the Empowering Children App, a child-friendly app for children themselves to be given the empowerment to participate.

During a press conference on the launch on World Children’s Day, Social Policy and Children’s Rights Minister Michael Falzon said that six years ago today, the first policy was launched, and today, government is soon to conclude the second policy.

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“You need a whole village to raise a child,” Falzon said, adding that children’s development comes from other stakeholders such as education, the health service, the environment provided, which all must be at the forefront.

He said that after internal consultations were carried out, this has been expanded and opened for the public’s opinion, including that of children.

Falzon said that the ultimate aim through this policy is to give children the opportunity to reach their full potential. He encouraged those present, and all stakeholders who work with children to come forward as everyone has the opportunity to contribute.

He spoke about the theme, which is to invest in our children for a better tomorrow. Falzon said that it is also important to invest in children for today, as they are an integral part of today’s society.

Falzon said that children should be provided with all opportunities, not just academically, but also voluntary work, occasions where they can learn beyond traditional education, as well as identifying problems of mental health in children, deeming this a reality.

“The cardinal point is that the investment must be done today, and the more we wait, the more the chances for a better tomorrow will decrease,” Falzon said.

Permanent Secretary for the Social Policy Ministry Mark Musu said that the tools of government’s politics must be updated regularly to support the dynamic needs of children. He said that the term “children’s rights” has always been put in the Ministry’s name, reflecting their work in the administrative level.

Musu said that the framework for 2024-2030 includes four national priorities, accompanied by 198 measures, which focus on; Improving Child Wellbeing, Supporting Families with Children, Providing a Better Environment for Children and Strengthening Child Participation.

Other priorities include child-friendly justice, children’s nutrition, security, abilities, health and education.

Musu said that children were already involved in the pre-consultation process, but from today, wider consultation can be made through the newly-launched app, where children can enter the platform through www.empoweringchildren.gov.mt and give their opinions through different means, such as in written form, through pictures or vocally.

Musu said that this process of public consultation will give the opportunity for concerned parties to contribute for the present, and the future of children.

Director General Alexia Vella and Director at the Ministry for Social Policy Justin Facciol introduced the framework as one which will establish government’s priorities and agenda with regards to children, and to improve every child’s quality of life.

Vella said that the framework’s main aim is to protect children and youth, and for them to be able to maximize their full potential to become active adults in society.

She said that the pre-consultation event was held in March 2023, followed by a preliminary consultation with children through the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, which led to an inter-ministerial consultation with all ministries, and has now led to the public consultation process launched today.

Vella said that the adoption of the policy is envisaged for early next year. Through the web app for children to participate, Vella said that she hoped that this project would also extend to each public consultation in other sectors.

On the national context, Vella said that the total child population is projected to increase to 16% (94,306) of the total population by 2030, and will exhibit a slight decrease by 2050 (93,864 children)

Vella said that government wants to achieve objectives and targets, and one national target is to reduce the number of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 6% by 2030 compared to 2019 (23.7%)

To develop the framework, Vella said that government looked at the national context to give direction to its strategy, with the guiding principles being children’s rights, the best interests of the child, equal opportunities for all children and high-quality support.

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