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How The Parties Score On Policies For Children And Young People

Tick for Kids has released a series of political scorecards focused on social policies to help voters make their decision on who they will vote for in the coming election.

Tick for Kids asked New Zealand’s main political parties whether they support action on 40 evidence-based policies that the Tick for Kids members advocate for children’s and young people’s well-being.

Tick for Kids created Scorecards based on Parties’ survey responses, as quick and easy to understand information resources for those keen to elect the Parties that will do more for children and young people. Their answers are shown in the following Scorecards:

  • Improving Education at all stages of learning
  • Guaranteeing all children and young people’s inclusion and connection with their community
  • Children and young people’s health and mental health
  • Ensuring a clean environment into the future
  • Lifting all children and young people out of material hardship
  • Housing all children and young people in housing crisis

“Tick for Kids is a collaborative network that believes putting children at the heart of all government policy and practices is essential if we are to ensure all families have their needs met and their wellbeing supported now and into their future,” says Jacqui Southey, Tick for Kids Convenor.

“There is a long way to go before we achieve that aim. It takes a set of policies across key areas impacting children’s lives, such as education, social development, health and our environment. Voters, particularly young voters and first time voters need to know which Parties prioritise policies that support children and that concern young people.”

On education, inclusion and connectivity measures

These scorecards focus on the funding and investment needs of the education system along with equitable access to learning for children and young people with disabilities, chronic illnesses and long-term medical conditions, or who live in remote areas of New Zealand, or affected by poverty.

Top scores go to the Green Party and the Māori Party who both supported all measures on our Education scorecard. These included enough additional learning support to ensure full participation of all children, the reduction of child to teacher ratios, alongside support for teachers’ ongoing professional development.

The Labour Party responded they needed more evidence for two measures, including making Sign compulsory in schools. However they did note “we will ensure NZ history is taught in all schools and kura by 2022 and to integrate Te Reo into education by 2025.”

Labour joined the Greens and Māori Party for top scores on our Inclusion and Connection scorecard. All three Parties supported every measure including funding communities adequately to support those with long term health conditions, free public transport for people who need it most, and internet access in low income communities. We also included more youth development funding and investment, more public funding for early childhood education, and adult education programs in every community.

NZ First and TOP responded they needed more evidence before committing to a variety of measures in this scorecard.

NZEI Te Riu Roa president Liam Rutherford said the education system had been chronically underfunded for decades and action, not evidence, was needed to address equity of access for all children and young people.

On health and mental health, and environmental measures

These scorecards focus on what on one hand is currently challenging children and young people the most directly, on the other what is concerning them the most as a generation. Covid 19 and our national response to the crisis has thrown a spotlight on our health system’s capacity, the health workforce’s capability, and the inequity of health outcomes for different populations of children and young people. Lockdown and recovery has left children and young people with new anxiety and depression like never before.

The Māori Party scored most highly on the Health and Mental Health scorecard, while all other parties that responded to the survey supported four or more of its six measures. Measures that had shared support from Labour, NZ First, Greens, TOP and Māori Party were more targeted quit services and addiction support, strict regulations that stop marketing and advertising of unhealthy foods and products to children, increased funding for community-led and child-centred health promotion, and for caregivers and community support providers.

Young people in New Zealand have made it very clear through the Climate Marches that the environment is a leading concern for them. Taking the lead from these young people, Tick for Kids included an environmental scorecard to measure the action that parties will commit to tackling climate change to protect the future of our planet and our children.

Labour, the Green Party and TOP all equalled top scores with the Māori Party on the Environmental scorecard. NZ First needed further evidence on the regulation of non-sustainable practices, and the benefits gained from funding and incentivising either sustainable enterprise or community climate action initiatives.

“It’s good to see so many Parties backing climate change measures. However, I am disappointed with the parties needing more evidence on health measures, when there has been significant inquiries into the health system with all evidence put on the table” said Tick for Kids member Debbie Leyland, Chair of United Community Action Network.

On Income, Welfare and Housing measures

Tick for Kids members are campaigning for fair access to healthy housing, laws to improve workers’ bargaining power, adequate skills and training systems, and higher income tax rates or a wealth tax for the very rich.

Labour and NZ First still needed a lot of evidence on many measures, however Labour made qualifying comments to their responses, that increasing income supports, reviewing income support settings and housing subsidies will all be part of their “welfare overhaul plan”. They also noted their leadership by example as a public sector Living Wage employer, and the rise in minimum wage every year since they took office. Recently they released policy of a new top tax rate for the 2% of New Zealanders earning over $180,000.

NZ First opposed increasing taxes for the very wealthy in New Zealand, to pay for more welfare to those needing support. Labour needed more evidence, while Greens, Māori and TOP all supported this measure.

All respondents support increased skills training and child support. Greens, Māori Party and TOP also all supported a Living Wage for all, increases in benefit payments and individualising all benefits, limiting political donations. These Parties and Labour supported extending collective bargaining laws for workers.

There was more unanimity on key housing measures. Labour, NZ first, Greens, Maori and TOP all supported a Housing Strategy to meet demand and diversity, upgrading existing housing stock, expanding our Crown Land Program, and improving the prison and state care discharging and planning systems.

“Seeing unanimity among Parties on policy solutions for children should give us hope that these are Parties that can work well together in New Zealand’s MMP political system,” says Southey. “Our vision is that New Zealanders elect a government where there is cross party support for housing, income and welfare policy solutions that will ensure all children and young people thrive.”

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