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Innocenti Report Card Another Wake-Up Call for NZ

Media release from Every Child Counts

Innocenti Report Card On Child Wellbeing Another Wake-Up Call For New Zealand

10 April 2013

The UNICEF Innocenti Report Card 11 released in Europe today highlights the fact that when governments choose to prioritise children and ensure that public policy meets their needs child wellbeing is significantly improved.

“The Netherlands sits at the top of the OECD for child wellbeing, with Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland just behind. Every Child Counts research has found that an underlying factor enabling children to thrive in the Netherlands is the social and political consensus that parenting and children are important. That consensus translates into policy and practice that effectively support families,” says Deborah Morris-Travers, Manager of Every Child Counts.

“The data released today shows that when governments set targets and invest in meeting them significant progress can be made to improve child health and wellbeing. The improvements in New Zealand’s immunisation rates are a good demonstration of this, with immunisation rates improving from 78 percent in 2007 to 92 percent of children fully immunised now.

“Successive governments have had a piecemeal approach to policies for children, with efforts often being uncoordinated and, at times, in direct conflict with each-other.

"There are numerous opportunities for improving child wellbeing in New Zealand, including:

• Establishing a shared vision for government and community action that prioritises children
• Developing a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to policy for children, sustained beyond a three-year parliamentary term
• Ensuring that policy and law are consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
• Monitoring and evaluating the impact of policies on children, measuring progress towards an agreed set of targets and ensuring accountability
• Ensuring parents are well-supported within their extended families, communities and our wider society
• Increasing the education and health of parents, with family learning and literacy programmes
• Prioritising our nation's youngest children for public investment, with a particular focus on housing and poverty alleviation, and
• Building connected, child-friendly communities.

“The Report Card released today shows there are gaps in the data that New Zealand collects on child wellbeing, meaning we are excluded from some of the league tables. Our nation’s failure to adequately monitor and measure child wellbeing in society signals that children’s needs are not yet afforded the priority and investment required to ensure that every child thrives.

“The report again reinforces the point that not safeguarding child wellbeing creates a fiscal and social burden on the whole of society, and should be a wake-up call. Failing to assist all children to develop reduces skill levels and productivity, as well as increasing health costs. This uncomfortable fact ought to motivate all New Zealanders to get involved in ensuring the wellbeing of children and advocating for a stronger government response to children's needs,” concludes Ms Morris-Travers.

--

*Every Child Counts is a coalition of organisations and individuals working to improve the status and wellbeing of NZ children, driven by Barnardos, Plunket, UNICEF, Save the Children, and Mana Ririki.

www.everychildcounts.org.nz Facebook

ENDS

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