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Expert help to reduce child poverty in New Zealand


14 November 2012

Expert help to reduce child poverty in New Zealand

Childhood poverty in New Zealand will be under the spotlight over the next few weeks with the arrival at Victoria University of an American academic who has spent three decades researching the issue.

Distinguished Professor Greg Duncan, from the University of California, Irvine, has published extensively on issues of income distribution, child poverty and welfare dependency. His recent research focuses on understanding the importance of the skills and behaviours developed during childhood, and how they affect children’s eventual success later in life.

While in New Zealand, Professor Duncan will meet with researchers and government officials, and deliver several public lectures. These will cover issues such as the long term impact of childhood poverty, investing in preschool programmes, the relationship between early experiences and success at school, and how rising inequality affects children’s life chances.

Professor Duncan is the first recipient of the newly established Sir Frank Holmes Visiting Fellowship in Policy Studies at Victoria University. He will be based at the School of Government’s Institute of Governance and Policy Studies, at the Victoria Business School, during his three week stay in New Zealand.

The fellowship was established by the family of influential economist, the late Sir Frank Holmes, to facilitate debate and generate advice on important contemporary public policy issues in New Zealand.

Professor Duncan will speak at three public events in Wellington—a public forum on Thursday 15 November, a lecture on solutions to child poverty on Wednesday 21 November, and delivering the Sir Frank Holmes Memorial Lecture, titled The Long Reach of Early Childhood Poverty, on Monday 26 November.

A 2011 report by a United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that 20 percent of New Zealand children live in poverty, many for extended periods of time.

Earlier this year, Victoria’s Professor Jonathan Boston joined an Expert Advisory Group put together by New Zealand’s Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills, to explore ways of reducing child poverty and mitigating its effects.

Professor Boston, who is also Director of Victoria’s Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, says New Zealand has much to gain from Professor Duncan’s research, insights and experience.

“Professor Duncan is one of the top researchers in the world on the impact of childhood poverty and how to mitigate the effects of material deprivation in early life. He has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, and it is a great privilege to host him for several weeks at Victoria University.”

Details of Professor Duncan’s sessions are as follows—the public and media are welcome to attend:

• Thursday 15 November, 7–9m, St Johns in the City (corner Willis and Dixon Streets) – a public forum on the cost and challenge of child poverty
• Wednesday 21 November, 12.30 – 2pm, Lecture Theatre 2, Government Buildings (Stout Street) – a lecture titled Solutions to Child Poverty
• Monday 26 November, 5.30 – 7.30pm, Lecture Theatre 1, Rutherford House (23 Lambton Quay) – the Sir Frank Holmes Memorial Lecture titled The Long Reach of Early Childhood Poverty

About Victoria University’s School of Government, and the Institute of Governance and Policy Studies
New Zealand's only School of Government is part of the Victoria Business School. It undertakes teaching and research on public policy and public administration/management, offering a complete range of undergraduate, postgraduate, and post-experience programmes.

The Institute for Governance and Policy Studies (IGPS) is based within the School of Government, and fosters discussion, research and publication of current domestic and foreign policy issues.

The IGPS particularly links academic research and public policy by providing opportunities for independent and detached study, and for neutral and informed discussion of important and relevant issues. Its goal is to engage the broadest possible range of informed opinion, particularly in drawing people together from universities, the public service, the business community and the wider public community.

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