Summit 2019: Whakamana Tāngata: Where to from here?
Child poverty, and the need to substantially reduce it, has been at the forefront of public policy since the election in 2017.
The Families Package was a beginning. Valuable recent developments include a newly minted Child Poverty Reduction Act, an in-depth report on welfare reform from the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG), the first official Government child poverty reduction targets, and a fresh range of statistics. Measures and benchmarks are important priorities. But progress on reducing poverty for the worst-off children is yet to be seen. The need for charity assistance is at an all-time high, and while there is increased Government spending on special needs grants and emergency housing needs these interventions are far from adequate.
Late into 2019, 174,000 children living in the most impoverished, desperate situations are yet to see any real gain. Thus far, uptake of the extensive WEAG recommendations has been disappointing, with Government announcements providing little relief for the children living in the deepest poverty. The limited government response to the WEAG’s Whakamana Tangata is frustrating, and the lack of public focus is perplexing.
CPAG held our annual welfare Summit, this year themed Whakamana Tāngata: Where to from here? in Wellington on Monday 18 November, with the aim to reflect on the recent work of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) and discuss its implications for welfare reform.
Experts from across a range of disciplines, including CPAG’s Professor Innes Asher, Susan St John, Laura O’Connell Rapira from Action Station and Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft, among many others, came together to discuss the priority reforms in Aotearoa that will ensure all people can live dignified lives, and all children can thrive.
Moira Lawler of Lifewise provided an excellent summation: “It’s our understanding that New Zealanders really want to see children and families living above the poverty line, and to have a society where children are able to thrive and have all their needs met. We all share the view that if the Government invested in the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group then things can be different.”
The event was recorded by Matrix Digital, and podcast recordings of all speakers' presentations are now available below.
The event also featured a special guest performance from Newtown School's wonderful Kapa Haka group.
Media round up
19 November | Stuff.co.nz | Substantial benefit hikes appear off the table
19 November | TVNZ Q&A | Children's Commissioner: the Govt will fail to meet its child poverty targets without drastic action
19 November | Radio NZ | Child poverty, welfare: government inaction frustrates advocacy groups
19 November | Radio NZ | Experts say government ignored Child Poverty Action Group report
20 November | Radio NZ | Government quotes welfare stats after child poverty inaction accusations
21 November | Newsroom | Frustration over Government welfare inaction
21 November | TVNZ Breakfast | How is this "aspirational" Government going when it comes to addressing child poverty? Jacinda Ardern made herself the Minister of Child Poverty Reduction, so is child poverty being reduced?