Social hazards

Children pay the price for proliferating social hazards

Gambling promises the poor what property performs for the rich: something for nothing. - George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)


Entrenched poverty is a devastating downward spiral often exacerbated by a range of social hazards including gambling, debt, alcohol, tobacco and loan sharks.

Sadly, it is usually the most vulnerable children who pay the price of the recent proliferation of these hazards in low-income communities.  If children are to be protected from their effects, the government must make greater efforts to support families and communities, and reduce access to legal and illegal social hazards, including gambling, tobacco, alcohol, and high-priced debt.


Gambling promises the poor what property performs for the rich: something for nothing. George Bernard Shaw (1856 -1950)

Efforts to reduce harm from social hazards must focus not only on the individual, but also on the hazards themselves, and on the wider economic and social environment in which they thrive. For example New Zealand has one of the highest concentrations of pokie machines in the world. These machines are particularly efficient when it comes to removing money from low income communities.


Every day in New Zealand ...

$35 million is gambled
$5.5 million is lost

118 foodbanks are accessed by families
(Source: Problem Gambling Foundation 2007)

How many pokie machines are there in your area? In low income communities around the country? See Gambling Watch's document here.

Pokie trusts are an expensive way to fund social development. "For every dollar given to an essential social service by a pokie trust, about three dollars has been lost by someone into one of their pokie machines" (Dave Macpherson, Gambling Watch).

CPAG has written a chapter about social hazards in Left Behind

Alcohol is New Zealand's most widely used drug.  Communities unders under stress from poverty are not only easy prey to the alcohol industry, but also find their social and economic problems escalate with the increased availibility of alcohol.  Read Alan Johnson's commentary on this here: Reaping the rewards of wholesale indifference.

The damaging health effects of tobacco are well known, including the impact of passive smoking.  CPAG's submission to the Inquiry into the tobacco industry in Aotearoa and the consequences of tobacco use for Maori is available here: Tocacco

Lending practises are of great concern and impact severely on families.  The CPAG backgrounder on this topic can be accessed here:

Credit and debt for low income and vulnerable consumers