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Need to tackle causes of child poverty

14 December 2005

Kids' sad lives show need to tackle causes of child poverty

A survey that revealed the shockingly limited lives of poor children in South Auckland shows the urgent need for governmental action on child poverty, Green Party Social Development Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

Anecdotal evidence collected from South Auckland primary schools by the Auckland City Mission included children who have never travelled on the motorway they live next to, or who had never been over the Harbour Bridge, or who didn't know when their birthdays were, and 'Breakfast Clubs' to feed children at school.

"These shocking stories heard by the City Mission are a window into lives that no New Zealander should ever have to experience," Ms Bradford says.

"It is tragic that the horizons of some our children are so limited. We hear statistics on child poverty all the time, but these real, on-the-ground, human perspectives put the crisis into sharp relief. Many New Zealanders don't seem to understand how truly disenfranchised low-income people in our society really are.

"Last night the Government passed into law an extension of its Working for Families package that will help families on incomes of up to $100,000 a year, continuing to entrench structural inequity that discriminates against beneficiary families.

"I call on this Labour-led Government to find the political will to transform and lift up the communities that these children live in.

"It has to start with incomes - the benefit system has to be enough to live on. The Government must not abolish the Special Benefit, as it is planning to do next year, until there is something sufficient to replace it.

"To the same end, the minimum wage should be lifted to $12-an-hour for all workers immediately.

"The other critical factor is housing. South Auckland continues to suffer a critical shortage of adequate housing for low-income families. The Government should accelerate its state housing program and do more to support community sector housing initiatives that provide an alternative to families in need.

"As Tapu Misa argues into today's Herald, inequity kills. Kiwis deserve better," Ms Bradford says.

ENDS

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