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Children Bearing the Brunt of Poverty – UNICEF NZ

UNICEF NZ (United Children’s Fund)

Media Release

Tuesday 11 December, 2012

Children Bearing the Brunt of Poverty – UNICEF NZ

The OCC Expert Advisory Group’s report on Solutions to Child Poverty (EAG Report) today and the Children’s Social Health Monitor yesterday make one point very clear - the unfavourable economic environment of the on-going recession impacts far more on children than on any other population group, says UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund).

Barbara Lambourn, National Advocacy Manager at UNICEF NZ, commented “The reality is we are falling significantly short when it comes to protecting children, particularly Maori and Pasifika children, from poverty and its terrible effects on their immediate and long term health.”

“The Children’s Social Health Monitor noted that underlying economic environments make children more vulnerable to serious preventive illnesses and to abuse. This supports UNICEF’s position that abuse and neglect cannot be considered in isolation from the wider circumstances of children’s lives. Any efforts by this Government to deal with child abuse must take reducing poverty into consideration,” Ms Lambourn added.

The EAG Report contains 78 recommendations based on evidence about what can work and also on the many submissions received by the Group. UNICEF NZ is fully supportive of all the recommendations of the EAG Report to Government, and particularly of legislation to protect a plan to reduce child poverty from any political change of direction.

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UNICEF NZ is pleased that the recommendations identify that reducing child poverty needs to be multi-faceted and structured to take place over time, but also recognise that there are immediate steps that can be taken such as supporting programmes to make sure that children are properly fed and able to function well at school.

Ms Lambourn said, “We have known for some time, and are pleased that the EAG Report points out, that there is no question at all that child poverty can be reduced. How much child poverty we are prepared to tolerate, how deep, wide and severe, is a political choice.

“The solution requires not only an outlay of expenditure but political vision, accord and courage. We are in a situation where our seniors are at the top end of the OECD index whilst our children languish near the bottom. It is time to give children’s needs and rights the same recognition, through an investment approach and legislation, to ensure their wellbeing.

“UNICEF calls on the Government, and all Members of Parliament, to do their utmost in their duty to children and consider the best interests of our youngest citizens in responding to these two important reports.”


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