INDEPENDENT NEWS

New Cabinet must get busy working for children

Published: Mon 12 Dec 2011 12:00 PM
Media release from Every Child Counts
New Cabinet must get busy working for children
1000 days to get it right for every child*:
New Cabinet must get busy working for children
Every Child Counts has welcomed the announcement of the Cabinet today and the agreement between National and the Māori Party that will see a Ministerial committee working on the issue of poverty.
“The new Cabinet has the responsibility to govern in the interests of all New Zealanders – paying particular attention to the most vulnerable. That’s why we believe there should be clear ministerial responsibility established for the children of New Zealand,” says Deborah Morris-Travers, Project Team Member of Every Child Counts.
“Bookshelves and hard-drives up and down the country are loaded with reports highlighting the poor health of New Zealand children, as a result of their vulnerability to poverty and violence. The investigation into poverty, announced as part of the formation of the government, is a welcome initiative and we congratulate the Māori Party for getting this onto the agenda.
“When parliament sits on 20 December the ‘1000 days’ of the parliamentary term will start ticking down. Every Child Counts is placing a counter on its website to keep track of what the government achieves for children in the next 1000 days.
“The Prime Minister has talked many times about wanting to address the growing underclass in New Zealand. Just last week an OECD report again highlighted the growing disparities in New Zealand – a situation that is costing the nation dearly when it comes to poor child outcomes. A conservative estimate suggests the cost is at least $6bn per annum/ 3 percent of GDP.
“We have also heard the Prime Minister express his concern that schools are failing 20-30 percent of children. For many of those children, failure starts long before they get to school – growing up in homes with inadequate food; cold, damp housing; no access to healthcare; no early childhood education; and no books or computers.
“Improving success at school must start with investment in the first 1000 days of a child’s life – when the most important physical, mental and emotional development occurs. This is a responsibility of government, communities and families. Schools also need to be more relevant and responsive to the needs of children, but there is no point measuring a school’s performance if its students are arriving at school hungry, neglected, and unprepared for learning.
“These are challenges all New Zealanders need to help address, but the government has a legal responsibility under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure children’s best interests are met. This new government must ensure it engages in these issues and works with communities and families to achieve much better outcomes for children in the long-term,” concludes Deborah Morris-Travers.
* He Mano Ra - 1000 days to get it right for every child - an Every Child Counts campaign for better investment in children.
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*Every Child Counts is a coalition led by Barnardos, Plunket, UNICEF, Save the Children and Te Kahui Mana Ririki working to increase the status and wellbeing of New Zealand children.
www.everychildcounts.org.nz

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