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Hopes that Budget 2005 will make every child count

18 May, 2005

Media statement
For immediate use

Hopes that Budget 2005 will make every child count

Cartoon provided by David Fletcher

With Budget 2005 set to be delivered tomorrow, Every Child Counts has identified some key initiatives that would improve the status of New Zealand children and contribute to sustainable social and economic development.

“The Budget is a unique opportunity for the Government to resource programmes that will make a measurable difference to children, and to New Zealand’s future,” says Every Child Counts spokesperson Murray Edridge.

“The ideal Budget would have a focus on children and measure the impact on children of any new initiatives. This would ensure there are no unintended consequences or negative impacts on children - Remember how a failure in the 1991 Budget to recognise the importance of children resulted in child poverty rocketing up to 35 percent.”

“We would like to see the Budget build on the Working for Families package and other initiatives designed to address this country’s serious child poverty issue.”

“These should include confirmation of the target date for ending child poverty and clear plans for progressing towards that goal, without discriminating against children whose parents are beneficiaries.”

“These plans could include maintaining low unemployment levels, ensuring adequate social welfare services, and providing enhanced family tax credits,” said Mr Edridge.

Dr. Emma Davies of AUT’s Institute of Public policy says another important area is ensuring that all children get a good start in the early years of life. A focus on the early years has the potential to significantly improve the longer-term prospects for children.

“New Zealand needs more investment in quality, community-based, wrap-around services designed to help families and communities meet young children’s needs. If the Budget doesn’t deliver this, the country’s most significant brain drain will continue to occur in the first few years of life.”

Every Child Counts welcome the pre-budget announcement of $12 million for advocates to assist children caught in the cross-fire of domestic violence.

Dr. Davies says a Budget that is good for children would also provide for further interventions to prevent child abuse and neglect and pursue measures that address this nation’s appalling record on these issues.

She says the ideal Budget would make visible the spending designed to improve children’s lives.

Mr. Edridge says New Zealanders should recognise that measures that better support children and their families will benefit the entire nation. “Children are at the heart of this nation’s future, and any hopes for security and prosperity will never be realised if government policy and Budgets continue neglecting children.”

Every Child Counts is a coalition including Barnardos, Plunket, Save the Children, Unicef NZ and AUT’s Institute of Public Policy, supported by more than 190 other organisations and thousands of individual supporters.

The public are invited to demonstrate their support for the nation’s children by adding their names to the Every Child Counts campaign at: www.everychildcounts.org.nz


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