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Strategy has potential to provide alignment needed

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick says New Zealand’s first child and youth wellbeing strategy has the potential to provide the alignment needed to deliver positive outcomes.

The launch of the strategy and announcement of a new initiative to provide free lunches in schools were the focus of a visit to Rotorua by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today [Thursday 29 August]. Schools in Rotorua will be part of the initial rollout of free lunches.

“In Rotorua 41 per cent of children aged nine and under live in areas with the highest deprivation ratings and we need to change that,” Mayor Chadwick says.

“The Government’s strategy brings together concerns we have locally around family safety, the impact of poverty, inequality of access to services and activities, and the need for alignment of efforts to enable these to be addressed.

“There is a need for a systems change and for government agencies to align what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. What we’ve got needs to be brought together to ensure local outcomes can be achieved.”

Mayor Chadwick says she wants to see how Council can now work with Central Government and its agencies to ensure there is a supportive network in place to deliver local outcomes.

“I’d like to see councils being central to the reporting of local indicators and am keen to understand how local government will be brought in for the delivery of the strategy.”

Mayor Chadwick says the focus on reducing and mitigating the impacts of poverty fits with Rotorua Lakes Council’s Child Equity Programme which is being piloted with Sunset Primary School.

The programme aims to improve children’s access to services and opportunities that can have a life-changing difference into adulthood and has attracted essential support from other agencies and organisations.

“What we’re hearing from the school and community is that this programme is having a positive impact for children,” Mayor Chadwick says.

“I’m very pleased that our schools will be among the first to benefit from the new free lunches initiative – we know that’s needed locally,” Mayor Chadwick says.

Children in 30 primary and intermediate schools will begin receiving a free lunch every school day from term one next year, it was announced during the Prime Minister and Minister of Children Tracey Martin’s visit to Kaitao Intermediate today.

The lunch programme will initially roll out to all year 1-8 pupils in 30 schools that will be part of a trial, extending to 21,000 children in 120 schools by the beginning of 2021. Rotorua schools will be part of the trial.

The free school lunches’ programme is one of 75 initiatives which form the New Zealand’s Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy which was launched today.

Other key priorities in the strategy include:
• Reducing child poverty and mitigating the impacts of poverty and socio-economic disadvantage
• Better support for children and young people in care and addressing family and sexual violence
• Better support to children and young people with greater needs, with an initial focus on learning support and mental wellbeing.

“I’m pleased to see the strategy covers children from birth to 25,” Mayor Chadwick says. “It’s also great to see that it includes the importance of connection to culture and acknowledges the need to increase youth engagement and for their voices to be heard.”

See more about today’s launch and announcement in Rotorua HERE on www.beehive.govt.nz including links to more information about the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy and the school lunches pilot programme.

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