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Focus on poverty must be sustained to deliver for children

Focus on poverty must be sustained to deliver for children


In at least the last four election campaigns, advocates for children and families have been working to ensure a strong focus on children in the hope that all parties will develop comprehensive policies to improve the health, education, safety and participation of children.

This year we are seeing a greater focus on children’s issues, with many parties announcing important new policies and wide public debate about the issues.

UNICEF NZ National Advocacy Manager, Deborah Morris-Travers said, “The current political focus on child poverty and inequality is an important part of solving this nation’s most pressing social and economic issues. However, we recognise that this focus must be sustained to ensure that measurable change is delivered for our most vulnerable children and families.

“Yesterday the Green Party announced a significant policy package designed to deliver financial relief to the poorest families in New Zealand, through a new Children’s Credit and expansion of the Parental Tax Credit. We welcome this announcement because it brings a focus squarely onto the issue of raising incomes for children living in the deepest poverty and acknowledges that Government has a role in this.

“We also heard the Minister for Social Development, Hon Paula Bennett, and the Labour spokesperson on Children’s Issues, Jacinda Ardern, say on TVNZ’s Q+A that children’s wellbeing is their number one priority,” Ms Morris-Travers added.

“This is a moment in time when New Zealanders can make our democracy work for children, by helping to sustain the debate and asking the hard questions of political candidates. Voters can look at party policies, make it clear that they want action for children, and keep children in mind when they cast their vote. Measurable improvements in child wellbeing can occur if confidence and supply agreements between the governing parties make children’s rights and interests a priority and if the next Parliament pursues an agenda that is child-centred.

“With the General Election just over a month away, UNICEF NZ urges all political parties to redouble their efforts to demonstrate a commitment to addressing child poverty so that every child thrives and can play a positive part in our country’s future.

“Equally, we urge all New Zealanders to keep calling on parties to make sure that their commitment to children’s wellbeing is translated into policy that builds strong families, communities and a nation that works for children.

“It is time for New Zealand to ensure that every child does well and that public policy has children’s rights and interests at its very core,” Ms Morris-Travers concluded.

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