Commissioner’s Child Poverty Report Welcomed
Media Release: Paediatric Society of New Zealand
Strictly Embargoed Until 12 Noon, Thursday 7th of August
Children’s Commissioner’s Child Poverty Report Welcomed by Child Health Professionals
The Report on Child Poverty released today by the Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro is welcomed by those working to improve the health of New Zealand children.
The report, commissioned by the Children’s Commissioner and Barnardos, highlights the currently high rates of poverty faced by New Zealand children, and urges the Government to implement a comprehensive suite of policies to ensure that every child has the best possible start in life.
These policies include:
• Reviewing the adequacy of core benefits, to ensure that the assistance provided is sufficient the meet the needs of families with children
• Increasing paid parental leave to 2/3 of average full time earnings and extending it to 12 months
• Expanding public, local authority and non-profit rental housing to ensure that the housing needs of families with children can be met
• Setting on overall goal for the elimination of child poverty and some clear targets in the areas of education, housing and health
For those working in health, such policies can not come soon enough, with hospital admissions for many conditions (e.g. pneumonia, skin infections, asthma) being 3-4 times higher for children living in the most socioeconomically deprived areas. Many children also live in houses which place them at risk of ill health (e.g. 43% of children in New Zealand’s poorest areas lived in overcrowded households in 2006). Household crowding in turn predisposes children to a range of infectious diseases including meningococcal disease, respiratory infections and skin infections.
The Paediatric Society of New Zealand thus urges the New Zealand Government to take seriously the policies proposed in the Children’s Commissioner’s latest report, so that every child in New Zealand is able to grow up to reach their full potential.