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All Children Have A Right As Citizens To Flourish

1 February 2013: News from CPAG

All Children Have A Right As Citizens To Flourish

CPAG supports all endeavours to alleviate child poverty. It is admirable that charities like Variety and others step up to provide a practical response when they see children in need. This shows the caring and compassion of our community and there is certainly a place for emergency charity assistance.

However the key question for us as a society is to provide sustainable opportunities and resources for all children. All children have a right as citizens to flourish.

It is important that when charities offer ‘bandages’ and emergency help, they are not used to cover up cracks in our society that reflect systemic problems in a failure to support our children.

To make real progress New Zealand MUST address the systemic causes of child poverty, especially those that arise from New Zealand’s unfair and illogical tax-funded family assistance.

John Key said in Parliamentary Question Time, 30th January, that it is ‘his preference’ that children in working families should not have to rely on charity. “That is why the Government has supported Working for Families and supports the In-Work Tax Credit,” he said.

This is a clear admission of the In-Work Tax Credit’s role and purpose in alleviating child poverty. CPAG believes it is deeply unfair that only some poor children benefit from this support while children of beneficiary parents miss out. For example, when low income families are made redundant or lose work in an event like an earthquake, they lose entitlement to at least $60 week of family assistance for their children.

Economics spokesperson Susan St John said, “The children’s charity Variety is showing that $35 a month can make a huge difference for an individual child. Imagine the difference $240 a month would make for a family.”

It has also been reported that Variety is supporting one child by providing medicine for an ongoing skin condition.

CPAG Health Spokesperson GP Dr Nikki Turner said, “We are very concerned this child’s family is having difficulty accessing medicine. We know from Ministry of Social Development data that families in poverty at times have to delay, or don’t pick up scripts, because of the costs. From 1 January this year the Government put the cost of a script up from $3 to $5 an item which has exacerbated the problem. Policy decisions exacerbate poverty-related issues for children.”

Ms Turner said, “In my own GP practice I have seen patients who want fewer items now it costs $5 for each script. With a High User card, after 20 items the scripts become free but that is a long way off when you have limited spare cash and health issues arise unexpectedly. This is a very sad example of the compassion from private charities having to cover for poorly thought out policy.”


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