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Caring communities a 2006 priority for Plunket

26 January 2006

Caring communities a 2006 priority for Plunket

Country towns have a thing or two to teach big cities when it comes to caring communities and neighbourhoods, according to Plunket's New Zealand President, Kaye Crowther.

"Families benefit when communities communicate, pull together and recognise the importance of healthy and nurtured children. It is not always easy to do this in city communities

"Country communities are good at this – they are aware of those in their neighbourhood and lend a hand when needed. This is sometimes all that is needed to prevent a problem escalating.

"All families have the right to be safe and enjoy health and happiness and the ability to access advice and care," says Mrs Crowther.

Also in her wish list for 2006 are:

• Acknowledgement by politicians and parents that children need to be protected from abusive adults.

"The time has come for all to recognise that children are beaten and killed as a result of abuse by their parents or care-givers. As a community we must protect children. At Plunket we've been advocating this for over a decade.

"The statistics are horrifying. There are 20 substantiated new cases of child abuse and neglect a day in NZ1. New Zealand is among the top three OECD countries for child death by maltreatment2.

"At our June 2005 conference, 560 Plunket volunteer delegates - representing our 8,000 members - called for the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961, supported by comprehensive positive parenting education programmes, in recognition of the international research.

"We also see compulsory parenting education in secondary schools as a means to halting the cycle of abuse that is apparent in so many families."

• The continued involvement of Plunket and its highly-qualified Plunket nurses, specialists in health telephony advice.

"We began Plunketline 12 years ago at a time when the service was considered by many to be unworkable. It was an innovative idea that we knew would help parents. It wasn't always easy, but we persisted and developed Plunketline into the popular and effective service it is today."

• Children must be restrained in motor vehicles and watched near water.

"25 years ago we advocated for children to be restrained when travelling in motor vehicles. We piloted and developed the Plunket Car Seat Rental Scheme, an innovative idea that has become part and parcel of family life in New Zealand.

We provide parents with access to 23,000 child restraints through our 157 Car Seat Rental Schemes operated by 250 co-ordinators in towns and cities throughout New Zealand. Numerous other agencies, including ACC, also offer child restraints.

"The drowning rate for pre-schoolers more than doubled last year. Children must be watched near water, there is no other way to ensure their safety. Water Safety New Zealand and Plunket will soon address this issue."

• Maternity care, midwives and nurses are essential if our communities are to comprise healthy families and children.

"Nursing is an incredibly important profession, trusted and valued by all, but all nurses must be paid competitive rates to encourage young people to enter and continue within the profession in New Zealand.

"DHB nurses have received a pay increase, Plunket and community nurses and health workers also need to be paid competitive rates.

"I am concerned that shortages of nurses are limiting places at neo-natal units and shortages of midwives are placing new babies and their parents at risk.

"When I hear of first-time mothers, early in their pregnancy, calling up to 35 midwives before securing a midwife to care for them during their pregnancy, I get angry.

"As a country we have the ability to get this matter sorted, we need to get on with it.

"We work with parents and understand their needs. We work with organisations who share our goals for child and family well-being. Plunket is a remarkable combination of paid staff supported by a volunteer workforce.

"For nearly a hundred years Plunket has been advocating for children and their families, and we will continue to do so," said Mrs Crowther.

1 UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre. A league table of child maltreatment death in rich nations, Issue 5, September 2003.

2 Ministry of Social Development. (2005) Children and young people: Indicators of wellbeing in New Zealand. Wellington: Ministry of Social Development. p.46.


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