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Child poverty expert to visit New Zealand

8 August 2012

Child poverty expert to visit New Zealand

An American academic with three decades of experience researching poverty, welfare dependency and childhood development will apply his expertise to the issue of childhood poverty in New Zealand.

Distinguished Professor Greg Duncan, from the University of California, Irvine, is the first recipient of the newly established Sir Frank Holmes Visiting Fellowship in Policy Studies at Victoria University.

He has spent his career examining the long-term impacts of childhood poverty on adult productivity, health and wellbeing; investigating the role of school-entry skills and behaviours on later school achievement and attainment; and exploring the effects of increasing income inequality on children’s life chances.

A report in 2011 by a UN Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that 20 percent of New Zealand children live in poverty, many for extended periods of time. In March this year Children’s Commissioner, Dr Russell Wills, assembled an Expert Advisory Group to explore practical and cost-effective ways of reducing child poverty and mitigating its effects.

Professor Boston, Acting Director of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies and co-chair of the Expert Advisory Group, says that the development of effective solutions to child poverty will benefit from Professor Duncan’s research, insights and experience.

“Child poverty is a significant issue in New Zealand. It has damaging and often lasting impacts on the children directly affected and imposes significant costs on the rest of society. It is critically important socially and economically that we reduce our current rates of child poverty.”

Professor Duncan arrives in Wellington in November and will be based at the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies in Victoria University’s School of Government. During his visit he will meet with researchers and government officials and deliver several public lectures.

Professor Duncan’s visit is made possible by a new fellowship in public policy established by the family of the late Sir Frank Holmes.

Sir Frank, a lynchpin of New Zealand’s social and economic development, began his career at Victoria as a lecturer in economics. He rose to Head of Department before leaving to work in the public sector and business. Sir Frank maintained close ties with the University and was instrumental in establishing the Institute of Policy Studies (now the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies) in 1983.

In recognition of his significant contribution to public policy, and in accordance with his wishes, the Holmes family established the visiting fellowship.

Administered through the Victoria University Foundation, the fellowship provides funding for a distinguished researcher or senior policy adviser to be based at Victoria University and to contribute to debate about, and offer advice on, a major contemporary issue of public policy in New Zealand.

In advance of his visit Professor Duncan says: “Child poverty is a problem faced by every country. I am excited by this opportunity to talk with and learn from New Zealand researchers and government officials about effective policy responses.”


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