Shame­ful stats re­veal child poverty

Franklin County News - - OUT & ABOUT - GEOFF SMITH

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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Let­ters should not ex­ceed 250 words and must have full name, res­i­den­tial ad­dress and phone num­ber. The edi­tor re­serves the right to abridge or with­hold any cor­re­spon­dence with­out ex­pla­na­tion. Let­ters may be edited, re­ferred to oth­ers for right of re­ply be­fore pub­li­ca­tion. Write to Let­ters to the Edi­tor, Franklin County News, PO Box 14, Pukekohe or email julie.kaio@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz with your views.

Geoff Smith

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