Changes in thinking about where children fit in terms of their ability to have a voice in matters affecting their lives has continued to advance and develop in New Zealand. Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states:
where adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account
The child’s right to have their say may not necessarily be determined by their age. It is about their ability to understand what is happening, the consequences of the decisions that are made and how those decisions will affect their lives. It is also about the level of the child’s participation. It is important for them to know that there is a degree of choice and flexibility; that their participation is about being given choices and not having to choose.
With the parent’s written consent and the child’s assent, we are able to talk to and listen to your children. Following that discussion, their input is fed back into the mediation. How this feedback occurs will be an agreed process with you as parents, and also with the child. The person who works with your child is not the mediator as this dual role can create conflict. All our mediators are skilled and able to perform this task, and will undertake that role where they are not mediating so there is a separation between the child’s voice and their parents.