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Child Poverty report shows urgent action needed

Child Poverty report shows urgent action needed

7 August 2008

The government must take urgent action to reduce the appalling level of child poverty in New Zealand, says John Bowis, Executive Director of Save the Children New Zealand.

Mr Bowis is responding to today's report "A Fair Go for all Children – Actions to address Child Poverty in New Zealand" commissioned by the Office of the Children's Commissioner and Barnardos, which has found that up to 22 percent of New Zealand children live in poverty.

"A significant number of New Zealand children are still paying the price of economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s. During that time child poverty and economic inequality rose in New Zealand more than in any other OECD country," says Mr Bowis.

"We recognise that in recent years the Government has taken steps to reduce child poverty through measures such as the Working for Families package, insulating state houses and 20-hours free early childhood education for three-and four-year olds.

"However, there is a considerable way to go.

"It is not acceptable that 230,00 children, or one in five children in this country, were last year living in households with incomes below 60 percent of the medium income after taking housing costs into account."

In 1993 New Zealand signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) which specifically states that all children have rights to a standard of living, education, shelter, health, medical services and prevention from illnesses.

UNCROC specifically states that governments should provide services and support to ensure these rights.

"Allowing children to live in poverty contravenes this," says Mr Bowis.

"Living in poverty deprives children of their right to reach their potential. Children living in poverty are more likely to become sick, fail at school and be excluded from childhood opportunities."

The report urges the Government to set real targets and measures to eliminate child poverty. Save the Children New Zealand strongly supports that call.

"This is a well researched and serious document that must be taken into consideration at the highest level," says Mr Bowis.

"With an election coming up, it is important that any new government ensures that all children, including the poorest, have access to their fair share of opportunity in this country. We call on all political parties to ensure that their policies will eliminate child poverty."


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