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National hui for child advocates

Jigsaw Family Services
15 July 2009

Media Release

What about the Children?
A national hui for child advocates

22 - 23 July 2009
Holiday Inn, Featherston Street, Wellington

The 2001 deaths of sisters Olympia Jetson and Saliel Aplin at the hands of their mother's partner was a catalyst for establishing advocates for children throughout New Zealand.

More than forty advocates are getting together for the first time at a national hui to share skills that will galvanise communities to keep children safe.

Reports into the deaths of Olympia and Saliel and those of other children highlighted that no system, agency, individual or community had put the children first and asked what was going on for them.

New Zealand scores worst in the developed world on the number of children under 19 killed in accidents and injuries, including violence, murder and suicide.

Child advocates are the voice that continually asks, "What about the children?". They work with organisations and ordinary New Zealanders on how to be alert to children's needs and respond positively when they ask for help.

The programme is government-funded through the Ministry of Social Development. Professional coordination for the child advocates is provided by Jigsaw, a child and family centred national family violence prevention agency.

Locally, the advocates are hosted by community organisations focussed on the safety and wellbeing of children and their families.


Key Statistics

How are New Zealand's children doing?

International comparisons
According to the latest Unicef Innocenti Research Centre league tables (2007)
• New Zealand is the worst country in the OECD for children under 19 killed in accidents and injuries.
• We have the fourth worst rate of babies who die before their first birthday.
• Our teenage birth rate is second highest at 30 births per 1000 young women aged 15 to19 years, double the OECD average.

Death and serious injury from assault of children under five
Between 1995 and 2004
• intentional assault (includes neglect) resulted in hospital admission for 443 children aged under five - an average of almost one child every week
- over half (255) were under one
- over three quarters were under two
• 51 children under five died as a result of assault
- almost half (25) were under one
- over two thirds were under two

CYF notifications
CYF received 89,461 notifications of possible abuse or neglect of children last year, more than double the number of notifications (40,939) in 2003/2004. An increasing number of children are found to be emotionally abused - 42% in 2007/2008 compared with 22% in 2003/2004.

For rheumatic fever our rates are 13.8 times higher than other OECD countries. For serious skin infections our rates are double. For whooping cough and pneumonia our rates are 5 to 10 times higher. For Bronchiectasis our national rates are 8 times those of Finland, the only other country studied.
Rates of immunisation against preventable diseases are low at 78%.

22 percent or 230,000 New Zealand children live in poverty. This equates to one adult and one child living on $305-$430 a week before housing costs. For children living in sole-parent families, the rate of poverty (49 percent) is over five times as high as that for children in two-parent households (nine percent).


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