Stronger commitment to measuring well-being of children – Catholic Bishops

New Zealand needs a greater commitment to measuring the children’s well-being say New Zealand’s Catholic Bishops.

Responding to the release of the UNICEF Innocenti report into Child well-being in rich countries, Archbishop John Dew, speaking on behalf of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, said it was a matter of concern that New Zealand does not collect enough relevant data to be included in the ranking tables.

New Zealand was excluded from key comparison tables of the study because data was available for fewer than 75 percent of the indicators used.

“Children require our special attention because they are among our most vulnerable citizens.  The Expert Advisory Group of the Commissioner for Children advised last December that the first step required in responding to child poverty was to measure and set goals to reduce child poverty,” says Archbishop Dew.

“The importance of this advice becomes apparent when this report shows that New Zealand is behind countries like Estonia, Slovakia, Portugal, Greece, Lithuania and Romania in collecting data about child well-being.”

Archbishop Dew says that data that was included in the study show New Zealand does deserve some self-congratulations, while at the same time highlighting matters that require our serious and urgent attention.

“It is pleasing to see that New Zealand child immunisation rates have increased, and that we compare well with similar countries for educational achievement by age 15.

“However, we should be very concerned that we rank so poorly for young people under 19 not in education, employment or training.  And it is shocking that New Zealand rates for infant mortality would place us in the lower third of countries measured in the report.”

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops say that New Zealand is a country blessed in resources, and whether New Zealand children experience wellbeing or poverty is matter of distributive choices and of political will.

“We have the opportunity and the ability to make this country what many believe and wish for – a great place to bring up children.”

The comparative data for New Zealand that was available shows New Zealand is:

  • Ranked 32 out of 34 countries for young people who are not in any form of education, training or employment (NEETS)
  • Ranked 21 out of 35 countries for levels of child poverty, above Italy and Canada but below the UK and Australia.
  • Ranked 25 out of 34 countries for young people (aged 15-19 years) who are participating in higher education, ahead of Australia and the UK but below Spain and Greece.
  • Ranked 24 out of 35 countries for general homicide (deaths per 100,000) which has an impact on children’s safety and development. Australia, the UK and most European countries have fewer homicides per 100,000 than New Zealand.
  • Ranked 25 out of 35 countries for child health and safety (includes infant mortality and low birth weight, national immunization levels and death rate of children and young people).


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