Wellbeing Budget: A systemic approach to complex issues
UNICEF New Zealand welcomes the government’s focus on issues impacting tamariki such as child poverty, insufficient mental health services, and lack of support for teachers.
“The Wellbeing Budget recognises there are complex systems that cause these problems, and we applaud the government for this,” says UNICEF New Zealand Executive Director Vivien Maidaborn.
“In the last 20 years, there has never been a Budget that has addressed these systemic problems with a systemic approach.”
UNICEF New Zealand welcomes indexing benefit increases to the average wage increase.
“Never before have we had benefits tagged to the average wage increase,” says Maidaborn. “The inclusion of this is a huge win.”
“We still need to see the core benefit get to a liveable level,” continues Maidaborn. “There is a significant gap between the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s recommended increase of $72.50 a week and the government’s commitment.”
Maidaborn questions whether these changes will live up to the aspiration of making New Zealand the best place to be a child.
“The key question is still whether the core benefit increase is enough to reduce the number of children living in poverty.”
UNICEF New Zealand welcomes the government’s investment in mental health services, in particular those for Māori and Pasifika.
Maidaborn pointed to a finding from the government’s inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, which found mental distress among Māori to be almost 50 per cent higher than among non-Māori.
“The Budget’s focus on the aspirations of Māori and Pasifika is critical,” Maidaborn continues. “There is no doubt this focus will actually benefit all New Zealanders.”
UNICEF was encouraged by the decision to set aside $95 million to boost the number of teachers, opening up 2,400 spots for trainees. But there was more work to be done to support teachers.
“The government must invest in our teachers, supporting them to be the best teachers they can be,” says Maidaborn. “Our engagement with young Māori has shown us that teachers need to be well-resourced and have higher aspirations for Māori students than they currently do.”
“These changes will help every child achieve and
fulfill their potential”, concludes Maidaborn.