Children’s advocacy community united in calling for a strong and enduring response to reducing poverty
Reducing child poverty was on top of the agenda for New Zealand’s main political parties going into the 2017 Election. Political leaders shared a vision for improving children’s wellbeing and signalled there was a common understanding that the level of hardship experienced by children and their families and whānau was unacceptable.
New Zealand’s children’s advocacy community as listed below agrees that the time is now to create a strong, enduring and non-partisan commitment to reducing child poverty. We collectively endorse Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft’s call for well-designed legislation that affirms a set of appropriate measures of child poverty and allows each government to set and reach targets for improving children’s wellbeing, and to be held to account.
We also support Judge Becroft’s efforts to help broker a broad, multi-party accord for child poverty reduction, as that has the capacity to ensure a better future for all children in Aotearoa-New Zealand. There is broad political support to protect the elderly from poverty via New Zealand Superannuation. What is urgently needed is an equally strong commitment to protect our youngest citizens. A multi-party accord or agreement could help embed and uphold children’s rights to safety, security, good health, and equal opportunities for the long term.
It is also crucial, for the sake of children’s wellbeing, not to delay effective policy changes that will alleviate the current hardship experienced by too many families and whānau. As a country we must be bold for our children, especially those who experience the worst poverty and endure severe and persistent deprivation.
We urge Parliament to adopt principles of human rights, equality and inclusion to see the end to the stigma and discrimination that many children and parents face every day. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is concerned that New Zealand has lacked “a strategy to address increasing rates of child poverty and inadequate housing and social protection measures” and has “persistently disproportionate negative outcomes for Māori children, Pasifika children and children with disabilities.” The Committee recommended that New Zealand adopt a systematic approach to addressing child poverty. We call on parties across the House to take heed of that recommendation, and to implement an evidence-informed, cross-sector plan, and to set time-specific targets in relation to income and deprivation measures, and to regularly monitor progress.
Child poverty is a serious issue for our country and prevents too many of our children, families and whānau from flourishing. We applaud moves to put the needs and rights of children at the heart of policy. A better future is one where everyone in Aotearoa-New Zealand has the chance to thrive and succeed.
Organisations supporting the Children’s Commissioner’s call for all political parties to work together for our children and ensure major and enduring reductions in childhood poverty include:
Child Wellbeing Network
Māori Oral Health Quality Improvement Group