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Prof's Letter Cautions Ministerial Group On Welfare Reform

Paediatrics Professor's Letter Cautions Ministerial Group On Welfare Over Overlooked Issues

University of Auckland's Chair in Paediatrics & Head of Department, Professor Innes Asher, has had a letter tabled in Parliament cautioning the Government that important issues involving children are being overlooked by the Ministerial Group into Welfare Reform.

Letter follows:

The Department of Paediatrics: child and youth health
Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences


Professor Innes Asher
ONZM
Chair in Paediatrics & Head of Department

Letter to Members of Ministrial Group on Welfare Reforms

Re: Welfare Working Group’s Report: Reducing Long-Term Benefit Dependency: Issues pertaining the wellbeing of children.

I am writing to draw your attention to eight issues pertaining to the wellbeing of children as you consider the recommendations of the Welfare Working Group (WWG).

The WWG Report’s aim to improve outcomes for children, and to have ongoing assessments of any welfare changes on the well-being of children is to be applauded. However from a children’s perspective the Report was limited, and thus some important issues appear to have been overlooked.

I am writing to you about this, because as a paediatrician I see many children with preventable diseases causing life-long damage (such as bronchiectasis - permanent lung scarring from respiratory infections) founded in lack of resourcing of their families. As an academic I am aware of the evidence showing that our children’s health outcomes are poor by international standards (1), some preventable childhood diseases are increasing (2) and that under-resourcing of the most disadvantaged children by state policies is a factor (3).

The issues are:

    1. Every child reaching his/her full potential is necessary for the economic future of New Zealand.
    2. The importance of investing in the early years so that children reach their potential.
    3. Requiring a sole parent to job seek when baby is one year old will be damaging to some children. Requiring all sole parents to job seek when their youngest is three years old will be unduly harsh for some children.
    4. Sanctions against sole parents who do not comply will harm children, due to reduction in resources.
    5. The reality for children of sole parents is harsher than this report describes.
    6. New Zealanders work when there are jobs.
    7. Threshold and abatement of earnings from paid work should be structured to enable the transition for parents from ‘not working’ to ‘working part time’ to ‘working full time’
    8. Cuts in welfare in 1991 drove children into poverty, not parents into work.


Full Letter:

Copies to:
Prime Minister Key
Other Government Ministers
Leader of the Māori Party
Leader of the Labour Party, and Social Policy spokesperson
Leader of the Green Party
Leader of the ACT party
Children’s Commissioner.

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