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Heads out of the sand New Zealand

The Innocenti Report Card 10 released by UNICEF today sets out the latest internationally comparable data on child deprivation and relative child poverty in wealthy countries.  New Zealand sits at 20 in the league of 35 countries, which leaves little room for complacency as many countries have slipped back in recent years.

Child Poverty Action Group says New Zealand must set a national target to reduce child poverty, act to move towards that target and improve its monitoring and reporting on the well-being of children. 

The Innocenti Report Card 10 released by UNICEF today sets out the latest internationally comparable data on child deprivation and relative child poverty in wealthy countries.  New Zealand sits at 20 in the league of 35 countries, which leaves little room for complacency as many countries have slipped back in recent years.

CPAG agrees with UNICEF that the prevention of child poverty and social exclusion belong at the heart of policy making, whether at national, regional, or local level.   International comparison shows that child poverty in industrialised countries is not inevitable, but influenced by government policy as CPAG has long said.  Some countries are doing much better than others at protecting their most vulnerable citizens.

CPAG spokesperson, Professor Innes Asher said, “The New Zealand Government needs to develop policies that look after the long-term future of our children and the economy.  To do this, it must gather more timely and accurate data on child poverty and act on the information from its monitoring.

“This report highlights that there is very little data available on what has happened to child poverty as a result of the economic downturn of the last three years.   In New Zealand, the Census which provides vital information for researchers has been delayed until 2013 and the Living Standards survey has been discontinued.  How can we address a problem when we don’t know the size of it?”

“Children only have one opportunity to grow and develop normally.  To make the right choices to protect children in this time of crisis we need to know what is actually happening to them now.  During this recession we have seen increased numbers of disadvantaged children hospitalised for preventable diseases.  We also know food banks, the barometer of distress for struggling communities, are currently stretched to breaking point. Alarms bells should be ringing for the government.”

Child Poverty Action Group would like to see cross party agreement on a number of measures recommended in the Innocenti Report Card 10:

  • Setting time-bound national targets for reducing child poverty and child deprivation.
  • Developing comprehensive national strategies to achieve these targets and to promote child well-being more broadly.
  • Putting in place arrangements for assessing the potential impact of all policies on the well-being of children and their risk of poverty and social exclusion.
  • Setting up formal arrangements for monitoring the impact of the economic crisis and austerity measures on children and their families, in terms of income, deprivation, and access to essential services.
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