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Risks To Children Unacceptably High

Monday, 11 October 2004
News release

Risks to children unacceptably high

The Public Health Association says government financial support to New Zealanders favours superannuitants and continues to discriminate against children.

PHA director Dr Gay Keating says data contained in the Public Health Advisory Committee report (The Health of People and Communities: A Way Forward - Public policy and the economic determinants of health) released at 5pm today makes disturbing reading. Dr Keating says the risk of death for children in low income households is twice that of high income children.

Dr Keating says the PHA is not arguing for a reduction in national super but says there are anomalies between assistance for the older generation and children. National superannuation remains a universal payment while there is tight targeting of assistance to children.

"Of course we need to support our older people but there is also considerable evidence that investment in children pays off, with higher educational achievement and better long-term health. We need to invest in the young because they will be the ones caring for the elderly."

Dr Keating says the 2004 budget has made a good start addressing child poverty but the PHA challenges the government to immediately extend a $15 per week increase in Family Support to all children in poverty, rather than waiting until 2005 or longer.

"Child poverty needs to become a top government priority. The United Kingdom has been willing to put poverty high on the political agenda and there is no excuse for New Zealand failing to take responsibility for its poorest children."

The PHA supports the Public Health Advisory Committee's call for a 30 percent reduction in child poverty by 2007.


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