Shameful stats reveal child poverty
Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards.
In New Zealand, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is lower than the average of the 35 OECD countries.
For those lucky enough to have a home, housing costs take up a larger share of the household budget representing the largest single expenditure for many individuals and families. In the New Zealand, households on average spend above the OECD average on keeping a roof over their heads.
However 1 in 100 kiwis are homeless. That is approximately 41,000 people. A spokesperson for Te Puea Marae which provided temporary shelter over winter noted, ‘‘This is a different strata of community that we are talking about. We are used to seeing the rough sleepers. We know what they look like in Queen St. These are mums and dads that look and sound like us between the hours of 8am and 4pm but after 4pm they are going to crisis mode looking for places to sleep.’’
According to UNICEF, as many as 28 per cent of New Zealand children – about 305,000 – currently live in poverty.
When a child grows up in poverty they miss out on things most New Zealanders take for granted. They are living in cold, damp, over-crowded houses, if they have a house at all, they do not have warm or rain-proof clothing, their shoes are worn, and many days they go hungry. It can mean doing badly at school, not getting a good job, having poor health and falling into a life of crime. Children who grow up poor also have a higher chance that their own children will grow up poor.
A shared vision to unite all of New Zealand, what our values are for our children and what we aspire for our children has developed in the form of a Covenant/Kawenta for Our Nation’s Children.
The document is intended to focus a national conversation about what we want for our children today and in the future. The covenant/kawenata commits to protecting children from violence, abuse, neglect and to provide a proper standard of living. It also promises to support their emotional and mental wellbeing, provide education and take children’s views into account.
The Covenant states: ’’We as New Zealanders undertake an unconditional duty to do all in our power to ensure that all our children are treasured, respected and enjoy a good life full of opportunity in a nation that is diverse and rich in culture and aroha… Childhood should be a time of joy and light. It should be free from fear and neglect and isolation.’’
You can read the full Covenant here familysupport.org.nz/news/.
- Geoff Smith is the general manager - Franklin Family Support and Heartland Services
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