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Plunket: Improve the state of our nation

Media Release 30 January 2008

Plunket: Improve the state of our nation – focus on the under fives

As political parties are providing their 'state of the nation' speeches, Plunket is calling again for all political parties to focus on the early years.

Evidence suggests that poor childhood outcomes are related to poor outcomes in adulthood and therefore investment in the early years is essential. If we get it right at the start of a child's life by providing a healthy environment and the foundations for positive development, New Zealand can address the root causes of many societal issues and see a better return on government spending.

"A focus of investment in early childhood – particularly in the first five years – is most likely to benefit families, New Zealand and society as a whole. Focusing on giving our children the best start in life is vital – it will help us create a better society but we have to commit to it now – every single one of us. Plunket believes that all political parties should show their commitment to the under fives." Says Paul Baigent, CEO, Plunket.

"We need to concentrate effort on ensuring that families have the support they need to raise New Zealand's future generations. By promoting wellness, positive child development and helping prevent childhood injuries we can help build a better future for our children– and for ourselves."

As part of its Five Years For Under Fives future focus, Plunket is calling for New Zealand to take responsibility to provide more support and increased investment in the first five years of children's lives.

There are a complex range of contributing factors to the appalling state of our children's health and wellbeing, and Plunket believes more focus on wellness is essential.

Plunket wants New Zealand to take actions that will make a real difference and these are:

• Increasing investment in the early years

• Making parenting education freely available to all – and part of the core curriculum in schools

• Ensuring families have a 'well child' champion to connect them to the services they need

• Expanding well child to embrace well family

• Ensuring support is available to all families through a national 'well child' database

Plunket is pledging to deliver more support in accordance with families' needs; advocate for increased investment for the under fives; work with others in the sector to create an integrated, shared network of support, so that every family will be given the opportunity to access the services they need.

"As a country, we've talked enough. We know what the issues are and now its time to 'step up' and take action," says Paul Baigent.

Plunket acknowledges that ultimately it is families that are responsible for supporting their children but everyone needs to contribute to providing families with support. Plunket is calling for the whole of New Zealand to pull together and increase its efforts to get the best start for New Zealand's children.

ENDS

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