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Lost Opportunity For Our Children

Social Development Spokesperson
11 October 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT

Lost Opportunity For Our Children

The Government's much trumpeted white paper may help us better detect child abuse, but is a lost opportunity to make New Zealand the best country in the world to be a child, says Labour's spokesperson for Social Development and Children, Jacinda Ardern.

“The Government raised expectations that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve the lot of Kiwi kids. Sadly this is an opportunity lost.

“The plan includes some common sense ideas on identifying abuse, including training frontline staff and improving information sharing. But these initiatives will only succeed if they’re properly resourced.

“As a nation we spend more on pet food than we do on child protection. Cases serious enough to require action by CYFS have increased by over 40 per cent since 2008 to 58,000 and yet only 50 extra social workers have been brought in to respond. The Minister needs to show how she will ensure frontline workers will be supported to deliver her plans.

“The glaring omission in this paper is the 270,000 Kiwi children living in poverty. Lifting our children out of poverty is one of the best things we can do to improve their lives.

“It’s an undeniable fact that a family’s income has the most influence on a child’s future. As the Children’s Commissioner’s expert advisory committee has said, ‘children growing up in poor families in New Zealand are more likely to have poorer health, lower educational achievement, reduced employment prospects and lower life-time incomes’.

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“Poverty leaves its own scars.

“The longer we ignore child poverty, as the Minister has done, the more it will cost us. We spend roughly $6 billion a year picking up the pieces when children do not get a good start in life.

“Children can’t afford for this issue to be ignored and neither can New Zealand.
“This is not about spending more, it's about prioritising the early years, and for as many kids as possible. Only then will we return to not just being the best place to raise kids, but the best place to be a child.”


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