11 October 2012
Government guilty of state sanctioned neglect
By refusing to deal with poverty in its Children’s Action Plan the Government is guilty of neglecting the country’s most vulnerable children, the Green Party said today.
“The White Paper on vulnerable children and the Children’s Action Plan, released this morning, failed to address the single most dangerous thing in a child’s life – poverty,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.
“It beggars belief that the Government could write a plan to help vulnerable children without addressing the one thing that makes them more vulnerable than anything else.
“The White Paper was an enormous opportunity to do something big and meaningful for our most vulnerable children, to prevent them from becoming at risk in the first place.
“But because it is allergic to helping poor parents, the Government has chosen to ignore the 270,000 children in poverty and park its ambulance at the bottom of the cliff instead.
“Nothing in this paper relieves stresses on families that can’t afford decent food or warm dry homes for their kids.
“While the Green Party supports parts of the Action Plan, including moves to make more government agencies responsible for at risk children and for better information sharing, we are disappointed by what is not in the plan.
“Our kids need a Minister for Children, a Children’s Act, and child impact assessments that ensure that everything the Government does, it does in the interests of children.
“Children need their parents to earn a living wage, and if their parents can’t work they need benefits adequate enough to afford healthy food.
“The phone line to protect children appears more like a dob-in line, and is a wasted opportunity to connect struggling parents with support, without fear they or their child will be labelled “vulnerable”.
“We are disappointed that Plunket’s recommendation for a national child health database was not taken up, and that a narrowly focussed vulnerable children’s data base will be established instead.
“This narrow approach to what it means to be vulnerable is a lost opportunity to prevent child abuse at its source and is a tragic disappointment for children and everyone working with them," Mrs Turei said.