Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


New Zealand children caring for family members

21 February, 2005

Support for New Zealand children caring for family members

A new network for under 18s who support sick and disabled family members was launched in Auckland at the weekend with funding support and a visit from Cindy Kiro, the Children¹s Commissioner.

Forum spokeswoman Pania Tulia says little is known about New Zealand¹s young carers, and how their responsibilities impact on their childhood experiences, education, development, and opportunities in adulthood.

Ms Tulia and her four siblings cared for their mother, who was paralysed after a motorbike accident when her youngest child was just three. The children became her primary carers, helping her to the toilet on their skateboard.

³Often people are shocked to hear that some children in New Zealand have significant caring responsibilities for a sibling or parent. We need to look harder as a society to identify these children and provide them with appropriate resources and supports.²

³A beginning is to help young carers know they are not alone ­ that there are lots of young carers just like them in New Zealand, and that they have rights.²

Children¹s Commissioner Cindy Kiro says it is very important that the voice of this group of young people is clearly heard. Dr Kiro says there needs to be increased awareness among government and community agencies about the needs and rights of young carers.

³This weekend¹s meeting is significant because we have a group of young carers meeting to talk about issues and solutions that will work for them. These issues and solutions are probably quite different than those facing adults.²

Forum participants discussed how to ensure the needs of young carers are better understood in New Zealand, and how to express these to those whose decisions impact their lives, including Government. The Forum has already built relationships with young carer movements in other countries, particularly Britain and Australia.

Young carers at the Forum received a letter of support from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose government developed a National Strategy for Carers in 1999 which includes recognition and rights for young carers. His empathy for young carers springs from his own childhood experiences following his father¹s stroke.

One in five New Zealanders provides support for someone who is frail, aged, sick, injured, disabled, or experiencing a mental illness. It is not known how many children in New Zealand have caring commitments for a family member.

A young carers pilot research project in Otago, funded by the Ministry of Health and undertaken on behalf of Carers New Zealand by the Children¹s Issues Centre, will release its final report soon. The report will include recommendations to improve recognition and understanding of young carers¹ needs.

Ms Tulia says the Young Carers Forum hopes to coordinate exchange visits with Britain¹s Young Carers Initiative, and the emerging national young carers network operating in Australia. Both overseas movements are publicly funded. The Forum also intends to develop information resources for distribution to schools and health professions.

The Forum will meet regularly as a special interest group within Carers New Zealand. Its news can be viewed online at www.carers.net.nz


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Veronika Meduna: The Kaikoura Rebuild

A Scoop Foundation Investigation

Friday will be a big day for people north of Kaikōura – and for hundreds of construction workers who are racing to reopen State Highway 1 in time for the holiday season.

By the afternoon, the South Island’s main transport corridor will be open to traffic again, more than a year after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake mangled bridges and tunnels, twisted rail tracks and buried sections of the road under massive landslides. More>>


BPS HYEFU WYSIWYG: Labour's Budget Plans, Families Package

“Today we are announcing the full details of the Government’s Families Package. This is paid for by rejecting National’s tax cuts and instead targeting spending at those who need it most. It will lift 88,000 children out of poverty by 2021." More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Defence Spending, Alabama, And Dolly Parton

The spending lavished on Defence projects to meet the risks that could maybe, possibly, theoretically face New Zealand in future is breath-taking, given how successive governments have been reluctant to spend even a fraction of those amounts on the nation’s actual social needs. More>>


Members' Bills: End Of Life Choice Bill Passes First Reading

The End of Life Choice Bill in the name of David Seymour has been sent to a select committee for consideration by 76 votes to 44. It is the third time Parliament has voted on the issue in recent decades and the first time such a Bill has made it over the first hurdle. More>>


State Sector: MPI Survives Defrag Of Portfolios

The Ministry for Primary Industries will not be split under the new government, but will instead serve as an overarching body for four portfolio-based entities focused on fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Vulnerable Kids, RNZ Funding, And Poppy

The decision to remove the word ‘vulnerable’ from the Ministry for Vulnerable Children could well mark a whole shift in approach to the care of children in need... More>>





Featured InfoPages