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Budget: tentative steps in the right direction

19 May 2005

Media statement
For immediate use

Budget takes tentative steps in the right direction
Every Child Counts

Budget 2005 takes some small steps towards meeting the needs of New Zealand’s children, but there is still a long way to go, says the Every Child Counts coalition.

“This is not a child-focused Budget – even though it provides some extra support to families,” says Every Child Counts joint spokesperson Emma Davies, of AUT’s Institute of Public Policy.

“Aspects of Budget 2005 signal a move in a direction consistent with the aims of Every Child Counts,” she says.

“Welcome announcements include a number of family support provisions, such as $12 million for child advocates in situations of family violence, and significant investments in the early childhood sector and state housing.

“It is also heartening to see $6.2 million for the development of programmes for separated parents to help them put their children’s needs first.

“However, the Budget doesn’t sufficiently acknowledge that children are our most important human resource, and their development is essential to achieving the best possible social and economic outcomes for all New Zealanders.

“It is disappointing to see no expenditure on extending paid parental leave, although we acknowledge and support the extension of paid parental leave to self-employed parents.

“When policy and budgets are devised without considering the likely impact on children or acknowledging their role in our society there is a risk of adverse consequences. Children must be a priority focus.”

Murray Edridge, Barnardos CEO and joint Every Child Counts spokesperson, says the Budget’s commitment to more childcare support, including OSCAR, and the early childhood education sector is welcome.

“However, there is a need for a comprehensive and coordinated strengths-based approach to supporting families and their communities to nurture their infants. Ensuring every child gets a good start is critical to the future success of New Zealand so we welcome the Parenting Support pilot and the expansion of Family Start.

“A strong economy and low unemployment help reduce the stress on families and we support efforts to strengthen economic development. As the economic and fiscal environment remain strong, it is hoped that additional investment will go into alleviating child poverty – including for those children whose parents are beneficiaries.

“The absence of additional, specific commitments to end child poverty is disappointing.

“Overall, the support for families that will flow from today’s Budget indicates tentative steps in the right direction. However, children are still far too low on the priority list and much more needs to be done to ensure their positive role in society and the economy,” he said.

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: HYPERLINK "http://www.everychildcounts.org.nz" www.everychildcounts.org.nz


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