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Call For Yearly Child Wellbeing Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 28 SEPTEMBER 2006

Save the Children Calls on Government to Produce Yearly Child Wellbeing Report

A yearly report on the well being of our children is urgently needed in New Zealand in order to effectively address the huge range of problems the most vulnerable children face including violence, abuse, poor health, low educational achievement and poor social participation. Our largest group of vulnerable citizens, children, deserve more attention.

“Save the Children calls on the government to produce a 'Children’s Wellbeing Report’ every year, in the style of the ‘Social Report’ from the Ministry of Social Development. There is currently no single yearly report, which brings together all the issues being faced by children in New Zealand nor the statistics on their wellbeing. It is hard to get an accurate idea of how children are doing in New Zealand so we can properly analyse their progress and what we are doing right or wrong," Save the Children New Zealand Executive Director John Bowis said today.

"Children need to be valued as central to our future, and important in today's world.

"New Zealand is required to report on its children once every 5 years to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, but this is not regular enough to respond quickly and effectively to the issues children face. The Government produces an annual Social Report – so to bring together statistics and information on child wellbeing seems a logical step when we are facing such tragic problems as the high level of child mortality.

"All groups of children must be monitored, and attention paid to the consequences of social, economic and cultural stresses they are under. One of the most vulnerable groups in New Zealand is those children living in poverty as they are more likely to experience poor nutrition, low educational achievement, abuse, and family stress than their better off peers. We need to eliminate poverty as it is a barrier to their achievement and wellbeing, which they themselves, and society, will pay for if we don’t.

"Males born into our most affluent regions can expect to live 9.5 years longer than those in the poorest areas. The difference for females is 5.6 years[1]. That’s the clearest indication there is that poverty has an extremely negative effect on the lives of low income New Zealanders[2]. That is why we must monitor the well being of all children – then we will be able to more effectively reduce the number of problems they face.

Save the Children is supporting Make Poverty History – the MPH month of mobilisation is currently underway, ending on Oct 17th. This week's activity is focused upon ending child poverty in Aotearoa.

“Children here in New Zealand are just as deserving of a secure and healthy upbringing as they are in the poorest countries in the world. Twenty one per cent[3] of children were living below the poverty line in New Zealand in 2004[4]. While we’re making progress down from 27 per cent in 2001, but we are nowhere near the 14 per cent level we had in 1988[5]. Sadly, there is more inequality in New Zealand too.

In 1988 the richest 20 per cent earned 2.4 times the poorest 20 – now they earn almost 3 times as much[6].

“There is no excuse for child poverty in New Zealand. Our economy is clearly strong enough to provide ongoing investment in children. Save the Children encourages Government, organisations and businesses to put their hands up and play a part in eliminating poverty here at home. We also need to address the problems all children face that hold them back, and having a single yearly report on child wellbeing will help us do this effectively and more quickly,” John Bowis said.

Children themselves are making this plea. See this quote from 'A World Fit for Children', the publication produced by children at the UN Special Session on Children, New York, 2002: "We are not the sources of problems; we are the resources that are needed to solve them. We are not expenses, we are investments. We are not just young people, we are people and citizens of this world."

Save the Children works on delivering lasting improvements to children's lives both here in New Zealand and worldwide.

Our Annual Appeal runs from 9 to 15 October this year. Donations can be made by phoning 0800 167 168.

--

MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY

Save the Children New Zealand is proud to be a part of the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY coalition, a group of thousands of people and non-governmental organisations around the world who are showing their commitment to changing the lives of hundreds of millions of people by eliminating poverty.


Millenium Development Goal on Poverty

"Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger". The goal for 2015 is to:

* Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day.

* Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

Every Child Counts Save the Children New Zealand is also part of the Every Child Counts campaign. Every Child Counts is a coalition of organisations which is asking the next government to: * Place children first in government planning.

* Ensure every child gets a good start.

* End child poverty.

* Reduce child abuse and neglect.

As part of Every Child Counts we also advocate that all policy-makers report on the impact of their policies on children.


--

1 Social Report 2006, Ministry of Social Development.

2 Social Report 2006, Ministry of Social Development.

3 Latest available figures from 2004 listed in the Social Report 2006, Ministry of Social Development.

4 This is set at 60 per cent median disposable income less housing costs by the Ministry of Social Development.

5 Social Report 2006, Ministry of Social Development.

6 Listed as 2.8 in the Social Report 2006, Ministry of Social Development.


Save the Children fights for children’s rights. We deliver immediate and lasting improvements to children’s lives worldwide. Donations can be made by freephone 0800 167 168 or online at www.savethechildren.org.nz

ENDS

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