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New Zealand’s Child Poverty Levels Unacceptable

NZ’S Child Poverty Levels Unacceptable, Says Save The Children

Save the Children called on the New Zealand Government today to honour its responsibilities to children under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 1, following the release of a UNICEF report which ranked New Zealand 4th worst on an OECD child poverty league table.

Executive Director of Save the Children New Zealand John Bowis said New Zealand’s ranking, compared with other developed countries like Hungary, Greece and Poland, is unacceptable.

“The Working for Families package demonstrates a significant move by Government to reduce child poverty for some families, but there is still a long way to go before child poverty is eradicated in New Zealand. Children should be given maximum priority in election year.”

“The Child Poverty in Rich Countries 2005 report shows that one in six children in New Zealand are still living below the poverty line. While this information was drawn from 2001 figures 2, the comparison against other developed countries is new, and provides a startling illustration of the fact that our international standing is falling, not improving.”

New Zealand ranks 3 places below the UK and 5 places below Australia on the child poverty league table.

“Under Article 27 of the CRC, the New Zealand Government must recognise the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for that child’s development,” said Mr Bowis. “The same Article also states that governments should assist parents, or others responsible for the child, to implement this right and, in case of need, provide material assistance and support programmes, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.”

“Children who grow up in poverty have less chance of living in adequate housing and getting access to basic services like healthcare and education, and they are more likely to suffer from social discrimination and exclusion,” said Mr Bowis.

Article 4 of the CRC obliges governments to fulfil child rights “to the maximum extent of their available resources.”

Save the Children encourages the government to implement the following recommendations from the UNICEF report: set time bound targets to tackle child poverty, monitor progress against those targets, and focus on the challenges ahead build public awareness of child poverty in New Zealand establish a back stop poverty line based on medium income and make a commitment to not allow this to increase.

  • New Zealand officially adopted the CRC in 1993, which sets the standard for the rights of every person in the country under the age of 18.
  • Child poverty rates for the majority of OECD countries on the table were drawn from the years 2000 or 2001

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