Children miss out on ‘kindness’

child poverty

A Government report from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) says New Zealand’s poorest children are continuing to miss out.

The new Child Poverty Related Indicators Report, released Thursday, found there has been no measurable improvement in housing conditions, preventable hospitalisations or food security.

“The report shows our children are suffering unnecessarily.

“Polling shows our communities care and want the Government to ensure families have liveable incomes – and that is an obvious, immediate step to stop many of these issues,” says Professor Emeritus Innes Asher, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) spokesperson and Welfare Expert Advisory Group member.

CPAG calls the report “grim” and an “upsetting reality”.

“When one out of five children doesn’t have enough food to eat in Aotearoa New Zealand, that’s a chronic, mass emergency. It’s politically-created distress.”

“Due to systemic discrimination, whānau Māori, Pacific families and families with disabled members are more likely than others to be facing the toxic stress of poverty.

“Nearly half of Pacific children experience food insecurity, due to low incomes”, highlights CPAG.

Reducing child poverty has been a hallmark issue for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who appointed herself minister for child poverty reduction.

In the lead up to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government reported tens of thousands of children had been lifted above income and material hardship since 2018.

The latest Child Poverty Indicators paint a different picture.

Yet Ardern remains up-beat.

“Most children and young people in New Zealand are doing well. However, there is still a group of children for whom life at home is quite different,” she said.

“Many of the issues facing children, young people and their families are complex, stubborn and inter-generational, so we know change will take time, and will require sustained action across government and across our communities.”

“A major challenge to reducing child poverty involves housing affordability, which has worsened slightly since 2018.”

The report found 36 per cent of children lived in households where over 30 per cent of the disposable income was spent on housing.

“Spending more than 30 percent of disposable household income on housing costs is generally considered unaffordable,” the report’s authors comment.

They say there has not been much “statistically significant” change in the number of children living in homes with major dampness or mould problems.


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