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Advisory Group focuses on Maori and Pasifika child poverty

Expert Advisory Group focuses on Maori and Pasifika child poverty
Media release 28 August 2012

Executive Director of Maori child advocacy organisation Ririki – Anton Blank – said that the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on child poverty has recognised the priority needs of Maori and Pasifika children in its Options Paper published today.

“The Options Paper has an excellent and specific focus on the needs of Maori and Pasifika children. We commend the Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills and the EAG for this work.

“Child poverty is not a level playing field in this country. Maori and Pasifika children experience two to three times the hardship rates of other groups. This means poor health and third world disease in Maori and Pasifika communities, and higher rates of infant mortality.

“Maori and Pasifika children are less likely to attend early childhood education than other groups and when they get to primary school they struggle to achieve expected developmental milestones. Moving into adulthood they experience higher rates of mental disease, incarceration and unemployment.
“The EAG recommends the development of Maori and Pasifika measurements of well-being. Moving forward we will work with members of the EAG and the University of Auckland to develop these measurements.

“These indices will define the minimum standards of well-being we expect for Maori and Pasifika children. The indexes will also take account of the role that culture plays in health and wellbeing. So we will explore areas like language acquisition, connection to traditional cultural values, proximity to extended whanau and sprituality.

“Maori leaders like Mason Durie and Rose Pere have already done some work in this area, but there is nothing focused specifically on children. Once we have developed the measurements we will be able to track the wellness of Maori and Pasifika children over time.”

The EAG has also recommended more government support for parenting programmes for Maori and Pasifika parents and caregivers.

“Around half of all Maori parents are under 25. These teenagers and young adults need information about how to be a good parent. Research tells us that the relationship between a caregiver and child is the most critical element of child development. If this relationship is unhealthy or under-developed the child will suffer as they grow older.

“Evaluations of our Maori parenting model ‘Tikanga Whakatipu Ririki’ show that Maori parents connect with the model because of its Maori values and spirituality. So any roll-out of parenting training must include Maori and Pasifika cultural dimensions.”

Other recommendations from EAG include:

• improving the response of mainstream services to Maori and Pasifika
• a strategy to prevent Maori homelessness
• a modern apprenticeship scheme to increase the employment of young Maori
• the development of integrated service hubs.

“If we are serious about improving the lot of young Maori and Pasifika we must address unemployment. Many of the industries that traditionally employed Maori and Pasifika – like forestry and manufacturing – have disappeared. Our families have borne the brunt of the financial recession.

“Whanau Ora essentially advocates integrated and holistic service hubs for Maori whanau. We would like to see continued government support for the Whanau Ora policy platform.

“We welcome the EAG’s recommendations and look forward to a continuing relationship with its Maori and Pasifika members as we develop the Maori and Pasifika Child Development Indexes.”
– Ends –

© Scoop Media

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