Support groups call for action following NZ’s poor showing in Unicef child wellbeing ratings

child wellbeing

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wants New Zealand to be the best place in the world to grow up – but Unicef’s latest child wellbeing rankings have the country among the worst-performing in the developed world.

Ardern insists progress is being made – and she points out that some of the data used in the damning Unicef report is out of date – but organisations on the front lines say progress has been slow and in some cases, things are actually getting worse.

Of the 41 OECD and European countries surveyed, New Zealand ranked 35th for overall child wellbeing.

On mental wellbeing alone, New Zealand sits at 38th – with the youth suicide rate among the worst in the developed world.

Jazz Thornton is one of the co-founders of Voices of Hope, a not-for-profit trying to break the stigma around mental health.

“We are seeing young people across the country struggling and struggling to speak up and struggling to access the help that they need,” she said.

The Unicef report put the suicide rate for 15- to 19-year-olds at 14.9 per 100,000 adolescents, averaging data from the three years to 2015.

Figures released last month by the chief coroner put the 2019 rate for that age group at 18.7 per 100,000 adolescents.

Thornton said more action as needed.

“I think that there has been a lot of talk, a lot of promises, a lot of funding that has been allocated to services within mental health, but we’re yet to see a lot of that actioned and spent.

“Talking about it is fantastic and talking about it is one step, but in order to see actual tangible change, that sees our statistics decrease, we have to action what we’re saying.” Continue reading

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