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Government ignoring poverty, again

13 August 2013

Government ignoring poverty, again

It remains to be seen if announcements today will better protect children, but the National Government is forgoing an opportunity to really help kids by ignoring the elephant in the room, which is poverty, Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei says.

“All the experts have told the Government that very low income is associated with higher rates of child maltreatment and neglect – something which was totally ignored in the Government’s Children’s Action Plan and the announcements today,” Mrs Turei said.

“If the National Government really wanted to keep kids safe it would support a higher minimum wage and, at the very least, restore benefit rates to the level they were before it slashed them in the 1990s. That would make a real difference to the lives of a generation of Kiwi kids.

“Instead its putting families under more pressure through its benefit reforms, and driving women into unsafe relationships for financial reasons.

“While it is adults who hurt children, if the Government knows what increases the risk to kids and does nothing about it, it is also failing those children.

“All kids have the right to a safe childhood, a good life and a fair future – not just those whose parents happen to have a well-paid job.

A Child Poverty Action Group review of 25 years of child abuse cases found poor parents are stressed and depressed more often, can feel useless, or under siege from authorities, and are often absent from the home as they work long hours in order to make ends meet.

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“In addition, Child Youth and Family is not currently capable of handling its current caseload of at risk kids.

“News of teen suicides in state care, and a little boy being shunted around nine foster homes, show that CYFS is struggling to deal with its existing workload and desperately needs more resources and support.

“While kids need protecting from abuse, any measures to do that must be workable.

“Kids need this Government to throw ideology aside and actively relieve the stresses in their homes which cause them to be more at risk in the first place,” Mrs Turei said.

ENDS

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