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Children's advocacy community united in calling for a strong and enduring response to reducing poverty

Embargo: 5am 24 November, 2017

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:

Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa (ACYA)
Auckland City Mission
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)
Child Wellbeing Network
Children's Issues Centre, University of Otago Dunedin
Department of Public Health, University of Otago Wellington
J R McKenzie Trust
Māori Oral Health Quality Improvement Group
Methodist Alliance Aotearoa
New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine
New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services
New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) Te Riu Roa
Ngā Tangata Microfinance
New Zealand Medical Association
New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi o Aotearoa
Paediatric Society of New Zealand
Public Health Association of New Zealand
Royal Australasian College of Physicians
- see campaign: Make Health Equity the Norm
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
Save the Children New Zealand
Social Services Providers Aotearoa
Stand Children's Services Tū Māia Whānau
Te Aō Marama - NZ Māori Dental Association
Te Runanga o Aotearoa
The Salvation Army
UNICEF New Zealand
Variety - The Children's Charity
Youth Law Aotearoa

Child Poverty Action Group - Dr Nikki Turner, 021760693
Child Poverty Action Group - Associate Professor Mike O'Brien 022 523 0146
Child Poverty Action Group - Jeni Cartwright, 021791561
Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa - Andrea Jamison - 021 044 2529
Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa - Amanda D'Souza - 021 0330 547
IHC - Trish Grant - 027 2840 257
The Salvation Army (Major) Pamela Waugh 027 3388741
Paediatric Society of New Zealand - Dr Timothy Jelleyman 021 432744


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