We must do better for our children: Jigsaw
Jigsaw Family Services
3 September 2009
We must do better for our children, says Jigsaw Family Services
“New Zealand’s low ranking in the OECD’s report on children is shameful,” says Jigsaw Family Services.
The report, Doing Better for Children, shows New Zealand spends less than half the OECD average on children under five. Youth suicide rates are the highest in the 30 OECD countries and one in six children lives in poverty.
“We live in a relatively wealthy country with a great physical environment for children. It’s intolerable that we’re failing them so badly,” says Jigsaw CE, Tau Huirama.
Tau Huirama endorses the report’s recommendation that spending more on young children is more likely to generate positive changes and likely to be fairer for more disadvantaged children.
He also agrees with the Children’s Commissioner, John Angus, that in most poor households parents go without for the sake of their kids.
“Jigsaw agencies know from their frontline work that most parents want the best for their kids. Government investment in young children and their families reaps lifetime benefits for the whole country.”
Jigsaw agencies employ about 500 staff to stop child abuse and neglect, and help families raise children in safe, nurturing ways.
Tau Huirama says the report is a red flag to Government to make children a national priority before it’s too late.
“The government needs to put policies in place that ensure all children enjoy a healthy standard of living. But that’s not enough. As New Zealanders we can all play a part in helping kiwi kids live better lives. It can be as simple as a word of encouragement to a child or an act of kindness towards a struggling family,” he says.
In light of the report, Jigsaw welcomes the government’s move to fund a “Never, ever shake a baby” campaign, set up better monitoring systems for the under-2s, and provide immediate community-based follow-up for under-2s in families where there’s been domestic violence.
“ACC figures show that lifetime care for a brain-damaged infant costs $20 million per child. Early intervention can stop a young life being wasted.
“It’s good to see the new measures involve non-government iwi and community organisations that are on the ground working with families, neighbourhoods and communities. People are more likely to come to them first when they need help.”
Jigsaw says increased government support for community organisations would result in positive change.