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We have to call child poverty what it is – family poverty

“We have to call child poverty what it is – family poverty” RACP responds to the Child Poverty Reduction Bill passing

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) welcomes the passing of the Child Poverty Bill in Parliament on Tuesday.

“This is a momentous piece of legislation – it presents a real opportunity to make positive changes in the lives of children and whānau in Aotearoa,” said RACP NZ President Dr Jeff Brown.

“As a paediatrician, I see children every day who are in hospital due to bronchiectasis, skin infections, asthma, and respiratory infections – conditions which are all strongly linked to poverty and poor housing conditions.”

Dr Brown acknowledged the consensus within Parliament, noting that “the support for this Bill from the overwhelming majority of MPs suggests that there is a clear understanding that we are not doing enough in New Zealand to ensure that our children are safe, warm and well-fed.”

He does note the importance of recognising that child poverty is whānau poverty: “these kids don’t exist in isolation from their families and communities. We have to call child poverty what it is – family poverty exacerbated by high housing costs, precarious work and low wages.”

The passing of the Bill comes days after the latest report from the Child Poverty Monitor, which finds that 100,000 children and young people in New Zealand are facing undue hardship, and the conditions they experience have significant impacts on health and education outcomes.

“More than 160,000 children under 15 don’t have regular or adequate access to nutritious food. This could have serious consequences for the ongoing health and development of these kids, including their ability to concentrate at school.”

The RACP has been driving its #MakeItTheNorm campaign calling for healthy housing, good work and whānau wellbeing to be the norm for children, families and communities in Aotearoa NZ.

“Our College sees this legislation as an opportunity for the government to be held to account on whether or not we are making whānau wellbeing the norm for New Zealanders.”

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