The nature of child poverty in Aotearoa NZ It affects child development and has a pervasive impact on all child wellbeing indicators. In the past twenty years children have been the population group most likely to be in poverty (on various measures) and those most likely to be in poverty are the youngest children (0-4). Inequities between populations and also between generations.
The nature of child poverty in Aotearoa NZ Extremely poor child health outcomes linked to low public investment and the political invisibility of children. OECD and UNCRC are urging government action to address child health, child poverty, and lack of access to services. Socially and economically unsustainable – at least $6bn per annum.
Which children are in poverty? 19942009 35% of all children25% 76% sole-parent families43% 26%two-parent families13% 77% no adult in paid work77%
Social exclusion He Ara Hou quotes Lister (cited in Perry 2010 (2004, p7) “Poverty has to be understood not just as a disadvantaged and insecure economic condition but also as a shameful and corrosive social relation...(the non-material aspects include)...lack of voice; disrespect, humiliation and assault on dignity and self-esteem; shame and stigma; powerlessness; denial of rights and diminished citizenship... They stem from people in poverty’s everyday interactions with the wider society and from the way they are talked about and treated by politicians, officials, the media and other influential bodies.”
Social impacts Teenage pregnancy. Reduced employment and economic status. Crime and social exclusion. Over-representation of Maaori and Pasifika children (more than half of the children in poverty).
Impact on child health Nutrition – mental and physical development. Obesity. Injury and abuse. Behavioural and mental health problems. Hospitalisation with pneumonia is 5-10 times higher than comparable countries. NZ incidence of bronchiectasis is 8-9 times higher than OECD countries. Hospitalisation rates for rheumatic fever are 14 times higher than other OECD countries - can cause heart damage. Rates of skin diseases have more than doubled since 1994 (Innes Asher).
Impact on education Not school ready, lower ECE participation. Lower educational outcomes. Exclusion from school trips, sport and cultural education. No school uniforms and stationery. Direct relationship between positive learning outcomes, concentration, self-control and positive engagement with a good quality breakfast.
International comparisons Denmark - 2.4% Finland - 2.8% Norway - 3.4% Sweden - 4.2% Australia - 14.7% Canada-14.9% UK - 15.4% New Zealand - 16.3% Italy-16.6% USA - 21.9% Mexico- 27.7% (UNICEF Innocenti Centre 2005, 50% of Median Income Measure)
What do children and young people say? “Poverty is the lack of something to make your life better.” – Young people at Streets Ahead 237, Porirua
What do children and young people say? “Poverty to me means the children missing out.” – Majenta, Teen parent, Whanganui
What do children and young people say? “Poverty is… Hard working parents but still unable to support their family. Parents working too much and unable to spend time with their children, missing special occasions like birthdays.” – Dunedin young people’s group
What do children and young people say? 0800WhatUps free counselling helpline - three questions 1.Do you think NZ needs to do more to support children, young people and families? 2.Where do families get their best and most important support form? 3.Do you think the government should have a Children’s Action Plan that helps make sure children are healthy, safe, loved and cared for and do well at school? And finally asked children to tell us their ides on how adults can help children live better lives. 1.More support for children - 1992 responses, 1420 answered YES and 438 said NO. NOT SURE – 134 2.The majority of children (1093 from 1790 responses) identified family and community as offering the best support (364 identified government and 333 were not sure) 3.Again the majority of children believe government should have a Children's Action Plan (1117 of 1659 responses) while 444 disagreed with this statement and 98 weren’t sure.
What do children and young people say? “I think that adults should not have to worry about money or anything and should just be able to play with their kids, and be able to just not stress, so they have more time to play with their kids.” “My idea is, that I think kids should get free milk like in the olden days when kids got free milk, and we should have lockers in primary school, and when you go to the doctors it should be free ‘cos what’s the deal if you go to the doctors and you are in pain and you have to pay, that’s stupid.” “Free medical care for under 16’s.” “I think Government should help out all students so we have our own stationary and stuff, cause some people might not have enough money to pay for their own stationary, so it may make it harder to find a job, cause it’s really hard to get a job here, so I was wondering if they would be able to pay for our stationary. Bye” “I think the government could help children by not having so many wrinkly olc men in parliament” Callers to 0800 What’s Up, Consultation on the Green Paper 2011/12
What do children and young people say? “I think that adults help kids be safer in their families, from abuse from the adults like when adults hit you, Child, Youth and Family should be stricter on that and take children when they are being hurt by their parents.” “My message is that the government should put the prices down on things like food and living supplies, and fruit and vegetables so that we can all live healthier lives, and put the cost down on school fees so that we can all have a good education not just the rich. I think that John key shouldn’t be the prime minister cause he is just making the rich richer and the poor poorer, and my family is not rich and we are just ending up poorer and poorer and not enough money for me to get a good education or nice healthy food cause they keep going up in prices, I hope that this gets to the prime minister cos it’s true.” “Kids should get school lunches or school fruit.” “Um I think that adults should take off time from their work and um spend time with their kids more, and that, and take them out and that, that’s how I think adults should be, thank- you Callers to 0800 What’s Up, Consultation on the Green Paper 2011/12
What do children and young people say? “I think that the Government should give us money cause my family is really poor and I don’t get much money and it’s really hard, I have to find shoes from the warehouse for $2 and they hurt my feet, and I got like the little toes is really sore, and I need money to get shoes cause my shoes are really small, and I barely get new shoes cause we are a bit poor of money, okay goodbye” “We should make a future plan for our children, when they are born the parents should put money away for future education and the government should help fund that” “I think that the Government should honestly pay more attention to children, because the children are the future of NZ basically, and if the children of NZ are not getting treated as they should, obviously in the future then they won’t be how you want them, cause you don’t train them up when they are little and you think that by letting them be the way they are and not having a plan of action for them when they are young of being healthy, exercising well, and just doing whatever the hell they want, it will just make them grow up and not them the be the people you want them to people or the people they want to be Should be better to have a plan of action for when they grow up, not for when they get older, cause they will be thinking why didn’t I know this when I was younger. Drinking should be made illegal, cannabis should be illegal” Callers to 0800 What’s Up, Consultation on the Green Paper 2011/12
How are we responding? Barnardos…by listening to what children and families have told us Home based care and education and social services Community hubs Teen parent facilities WhatsUp Helpline
What do we need? “The general socio-economic milieu within which children are raised has far-reaching consequences for their health development.” - Gluckman et al 2011
What do we need? A strong economy. Liveable incomes. Expansion of free healthcare for under 6s. Accessible, quality, early childhood care and education. Affordable, healthy, housing. Tax credits for beneficiaries. Low taxes on low incomes. Support for beneficiaries to get into work.
What do we need? Targets and a plan to improve all outcomes for children. Monitoring of child and youth health. Stronger, connected communities. Support for parents and parents linked into their children’s education. A budgetary review – efficacy and equity- increased and more effective public investment. Child impact reporting and policies that meet our obligations under the UNCROC – visibility and voice.
Current opportunities Ministerial Committee on Poverty Advisory Committee Health Select Committee Inquiry into the Prevention of Child Abuse (4 May) White Paper – Children’s Action Plan 1000 days to get it right Te Papa event 10 May and 12 July
Conclusion Poverty is a political choice – we can change it www.everychildcounts.org.nz www.barnardos.org.nz