Child Poverty Reduction Bill
The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) sees the Child Poverty Reduction Bill as an important piece of legislation that will help to maintain a focus on the crisis of deprivation afflicting children across the country.
While the Association welcomes the bill, ANZASW has prepared a submission which recommends that further, practical measures are taken to tackle child poverty.
“We support the measures contained in the bill, which will do much to keep child poverty on the radar,” Chief Executive of ANZASW Lucy Sandford Reed said.
“This is an overdue step in the right direction, but more needs to done,” she added.
“We believe that further actions are necessary to tackle the causes of child poverty so that the issue can be dealt with at its root,” she continued.
ANZASW supports the bill’s commitment to using multiple measures to monitor levels of child poverty and to set targets for reduction. These mechanisms will make it easier to hold the government to account for progress in dealing with the issue.
Yet these measures, while important and necessary, also need to accompanied by practical moves that directly impact inequality. One step would be to replace the minimum wage with an inflation-adjusted living wage.
This will have a direct effect on children living in families that suffer from income poverty; estimates indicate that more that this accounts for more than a quarter of minors in Aotearoa New Zealand.
This should be accompanied by targeted increases to welfare for families identified as experiencing severe poverty, a move that would complement the measures contained in the government’s Family Package.
“Child poverty can have life-long consequences,” Sandford-Reed observed. “Deprivation in childhood significantly increases the likelihood of poor performance in school and subsequent disadvantage throughout adulthood.”
“If we want the best for our children we need to attack child poverty in a sustained, multifaceted way,” she concluded.
ANZASW as an organisation is committed to fighting inequality and social injustice. We are guided by principles that compel us to stand for the rights of the disadvantaged. Every day our members encounter and bear witness to the consequences of poverty.
Because of this we strongly believe that everything possible should be done to reduce the scandalously high levels of child poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand, which are a stain on the reputation of the country. The level of child deprivation here is among the highest in the developed world, a fact that should shame us all.
Aotearoa New Zealand’s children are our future: by investing in their wellbeing, we are truly advancing our national interest.