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Time for the Govt to wake up to economic violence

“It’s time for the Government to wake up to the reality of economic violence"
Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party
Thursday 27 July 2006

The release of another report on child mal-treatment showing the explicit link to poverty is fast approaching a national emergency says Tariana Turia in response to the release of 'Children at increased risk of death from maltreatment and strategies for prevention'.

On 1 July, the first ever first National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan was released, describing the risks, hazards and plans to respond to emergencies of national significance in Aotearoa. The Maori Party says today, that the chronic levels of poverty and socio-economic disadvantage constitute a social disaster of national proportions.

“This latest report makes it quite clear - the peak in child deaths was from late 1980s and 1990s - the so-called experimental years in New Zealand’s economy - when unemployment was highest and when benefits were cut” says Mrs Turia.

“We all know that socio-economic disadvantage is associated with increased risk of child abuse, with issues such as poverty, unemployment and poor housing a factor in some forms of child mal-treatment” said Mrs Turia.

Child protection cases typically involve families struggling through socio-economic hardship.

“It’s time for the Government to wake up to the reality of economic violence” said Mrs Turia.

Economic violence is when people are impoverished by being deprived of access to power and resources, putting human dignity at danger.

“There is a significant body of research outlining the relationship between relative poverty and social isolation and children being 'at risk' of abuse and neglect” said Mrs Turia.

“And yet so often, society tends to punish and police 'the deviant parent' rather than addressing the crimes of the state, that result in social disadvantage”.

In the report, a statement from UNICEF recommends “Strategies to reduce child abuse will not be successful “without addressing the question of economic poverty, which … is the close companion of physical abuse and neglect”. (p vii)

“We all have a part to play in reducing the tragic statistics around child maltreatment” said Mrs Turia. “As whanau members, we must all take up the responsibility to actively look out for each other, to get involved, to care”.

“Agencies in government or communities, must do everything they can to support whanau in restoring their families to a situation of hope”.

“And the Government must step up to the plate, and take poverty seriously, if we are ever to change from a state of national emergency, to a nation of well-being and compassion” concluded Tariana Turia, Maori Party spokesperson on whanau development.


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