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Child Poverty Monitor adds another voice to call for action

Inaugural Child Poverty Monitor adds another voice to the call for action

The Child Poverty Monitor released today presents outcomes that no child in New Zealand should be a part of.

Many aspects of poverty, income inequality, unemployment and negative health indicators show that we have a long way to go before all children get the childhood they deserve, according to Conectus, a group of three University of Auckland organisations committed to improving outcomes for children and their families across the country.

The group, which includes Whakawhetu, TAHA Well Pacific Mother and Infant Service, and The Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC), notes that the last seven days have seen the release of the census data, an OECD report into New Zealand’s falling educational achievements, and the awareness-raising Safe Sleep Day – all pointing to areas that need urgent action and improvement.

Whakawhetu has a focus on reducing Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI), especially for Maori; TAHA’s mission is to improve outcomes during pregnancy and the first year of life within Pacific families and The Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) provides information and advice on immunisation and vaccine preventable diseases.

These Conectus organisations have welcomed the report as a vital means to define the gaps of need and negative outcomes between different groups in our communities. While the Monitor indicates some reduction in SUDI for example, Maori, remain over-represented in these statistics.

“When you read that a baby’s death was related to SUDI, they are more than twice as likely to be a Māori baby” comments Kathrine Clarke, general manager of Whakawhetu. “The Child Poverty Monitor reminds us that while the overall picture of SUDI may be improving, the underlying disparity shows the need for further action to save more lives.”

The Child Poverty Monitor also tracks hospitalisations related to aspects of social need. In New Zealand, Pacific people are much more likely to be hospitalised for medical conditions or injuries related to a social gradient than any other group.

“The sad fact is that Pacific children are hospitalised more than any other group for conditions related to poverty” says Jacinta Fa’alili-Fidow, manager of TAHA. “This is unacceptable and we need to work together to improve the economic situation for families with young children and expectant mothers, before we can see an overall improvement in child health.

Director of Conectus and IMAC, Dr Nikki Turner sees great value in the information provided.

“Being able to see how we are tracking in areas of need and hardship may seem pessimistic, but in reality it provides us all with a real focus on the issues.

“By the nature of their age and social disadvantage, these children cannot speak for themselves, and need us to acknowledge and act upon their behalf. This is a starting point – a stake in the ground to know how bad the situation is, and where we can build from. We need this data to build a national strategy, and then be able to measure and monitor progress.”


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