Children’s sector unites to support a reduction in Child Poverty
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) says that the Government’s Child Poverty Reduction Bill and changes to the Vulnerable Children’s Act (2014) are important new steps toward improving the lives of many of Aotearoa’s children. CPAG has submitted on the Bill and proposed changes today, with recommendations for strengthening them even further.
Of chief concern is the way in which poverty is measured, the relevance of data and the timeliness of reporting.
“The depth of child poverty cannot be understood by the measures in this Bill alone,” says Associate Professor Susan St John, CPAG economics spokesperson.
“A range of qualitative studies should also be undertaken to supplement these measures, including the demands experienced by charities, food banks and budget services to give a more rounded and timely picture of levels of child and family hardship.
“Government should also consult widely with families, ranging in size and income, to better understand their costs and what is needed to ensure that all the bills are paid, and their whole family’s needs are adequately met. We should be looking to provide more than just subsistence living for those in need.”
As severe poverty isn’t set to be defined until 2025, the 40% (After housing costs) measure should be a primary measure. CPAG argues that there should be no families with children under this very low line. Currently there are 140,000 children at this lowest end of the income poverty spectrum.
More resourcing should be allocated to annual reporting and ensuring that survey samples accurately reflect the population demographics, and to ensure that it is collected and reported on in a timely fashion. Current reporting uses data that is often more than two years out of date.
CPAG also recommends intermediary reporting at the end of 2018 to gauge the impacts of family income changes that take effect from July 1.
Children’s rights to an adequate standard of living, to be free from violence and discrimination, and to be able to participate fully socially should underpin a successful Child Wellbeing Strategy.
CPAG’s full submission is available online here.
In addition, CPAG has been working alongside Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa (ACYA) to lead the development of an overarching submission from a wide range of groups with expertise on children (the children’s sector). The submission has now been endorsed by 41 organisations and individuals, demonstrating strong unity within the children’s sector on what systemic changes are needed to support all Aotearoa-New Zealand’s children to flourish. The document outlines some high level recommendations around data and reporting, and principles that should be the foundation of a successful child well-being strategy.
Professor Innes Asher, CPAG health spokesperson says that working together is critical to achieving a New Zealand where all children can flourish.
“Groups working for and with children are deeply concerned about child poverty in New Zealand and its consequences, which many of us see in our daily work,” says Professor Asher.
“In this overarching submission from the children's sector we have successfully worked together, and speak with one voice on this critical issue. We demonstrate the kind of unanimity needed in our political systems in order to lift all affected children out of hardship and poverty.”
The full list of individuals and organisations who have supported the joint sector submission is below, and the submission is available online here.
ActionStation has also developed an online guide offering the public the chance to be a part of a crowdsourced submission on the draft law.
Dr Emily Keddell
Dr Ian Hassall
Dr John Garrett
OMEP Auckland Chapter
OMEP Otago Chapter