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Conference call - action to make every child count

Media statement
26 July 2006

Conference calls for action to make every child count

The 120 delegates attending Making Every Child Count - Getting Together for All Children, a conference taking place in Wellington today, are calling for urgent action to improve the status of children.

Chair of the Every Child Counts-* steering group, Murray Edridge, told the conference, “As a nation, we pause and wring our hands at the latest tragedy, we lament the international comparisons, we squabble about parental protection and the basic human right to protection from physical punishment, we reach for the most superficial, ethnicity-based analysis of child abuse figures. And then we console ourselves with the heart-warming myth that New Zealand is a great place to bring up children. Anxieties calmed, consciences quashed, and children forgotten again, we return to the current national interest of the day.

“If we keep leaving children at the bottom of the nation’s list of policy priorities like this, not only will children continue to suffer as a result of that neglect, but the prospects for our collective social and economic development will also be undermined.”

Business New Zealand Chief Executive, Phil O’Reilly, agreed and went on to say, “How work and family intersect has a big impact on children. Companies that provide flexibility not only gain a competitive advantage, they're doing a good thing for our kids.”

Children’s Commissioner, Cindy Kiro, described her vision of what needs to be done to reduce child abuse, saying, “Research on resilience tells us that it is the balance between positive and negative factors that determine outcomes. Instead of trying to identify the families most likely to cause harm to their children we should be working to extend the networks that support families in fulfilling their responsibilities and provide opportunities for children in need to be identified.

“Assessing and providing early solutions will surely save us money and resources later in the life of a child, even if they still might require some level of assistance as they grow towards adulthood.”

Note: He Mana to ia Tamaiti / 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 350 other organisations and thousands of individual supporters. The campaign has four priorities: putting children at the centre of policy; ensuring children get a good start; reducing child abuse and neglect; and ending child poverty. www.everychildcounts.org.nz

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