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New campaign: For every child a healthy home

Media release from Every Child Counts

New campaign: For every child a healthy home

Guests at a cross-party breakfast of MPs, officials and community representatives in Parliament this morning, were told there is abundant evidence that the market has failed to deliver the quality or quantity of houses New Zealand needs and there should be cross-party work on a Warrant of Fitness for housing.  

Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman from He Kainga Oranga Housing and Health Research Programme addressed the breakfast to help launch a new Every Child Counts* campaign: For every child a healthy home.  The campaign will run through until General Election 2014.

“Every Child Counts want every child in New Zealand to live in a home where:

1. The house is warm, dry, ventilated, safe and not overcrowded.

2. The household has adequate income to maintain a standard of living that meets the physical, mental and emotional needs of children.

3. Parents and caregivers are well supported and connected to their community.

4. There is a focus on education with all family members given opportunities and resources to continue learning, which in turn supports children’s learning with language, books and play,” says Deborah Morris-Travers, manager of Every Child Counts.

“In the months ahead we will be working to encourage all political parties to develop policies that respond to the urgent housing needs of families with children.  There is ample evidence of the return on investment in housing; a dollar spent on insulation delivers a return of $6, for example.  

“Of the $6bn cost of child poverty, about $2bn is made up of health costs.  A good portion of that will be due to poor quality housing.  The case for action on housing is very strong and government needs to put its hands back on the levers to ensure that children’s housing needs are being met.  

“Some key points emerging from the breakfast event focused on housing today, included:

-       New Zealand has the highest rate of transience/ residential mobility in the OECD and this undermines children’s education and also community cohesion.

-       Housing-related respiratory illness and asthma is a leading cause of school absenteeism.

-       The existing Healthy Homes Index provides an ideal model for a Warrant-of-Fitness, meaning that much of the work has already been done and it should be implemented now.

-       The Housing NZ / DHB Healthy Housing project demonstrated a two-thirds drop in hospitalisations when housing and income were addressed, and

-       There are increasing numbers of households unable to heat their homes.

“We look forward to working with political parties and the public to achieve progress in the important areas of housing, income, support for parents and education,” concludes Ms Morris-Travers.

*Every Child Counts is a coalition of organisations and individuals working to increase the status and wellbeing of New Zealand children.  The coalition is driven by Barnardos, Plunket, UNICEF, Save the Children and Mana Ririki.

Twitter: @ECCNZ

Facebook: Every Child Counts

Briefing sheet on housing:


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