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Will poverty reduction targets measure up?

Published: Wed 21 Feb 2018 03:22 PM
21 February 2018
Measuring material hardship will reveal if poverty reduction targets measure up
KidsCan, the charity which provides food, clothing and basic health items in 700 schools nationwide, is urging caution that setting a target will not magically lift people out of poverty as the Government’s Child Poverty Reduction Bill heads to Select committee.
KidsCan CEO and Founder Julie Chapman says it’s important for New Zealanders to acknowledge that there is no quick fix, that life is not going to improve overnight for the thousands of children, and their families, living in hardship.
“The key to really changing the lives of those trapped in the poverty cycle is for New Zealanders to accept just how bad the level of deprivation is for families living in hardship.
“Some of the families that we see, you would need to give them an extra $300 - $400 a week, just to make any kind of impact. We need to work out a consumption type model, where we actually work out how much a family does need to live with dignity,” says Julie Chapman.
There has been report-after-report in recent weeks all painting a bleak picture of New Zealand life for many. The Salvation Army’s report revealed the biggest increase since the recession of families seeking food parcels and a ‘frightening’ rise in families suffering from food poverty. The stocktake of New Zealand’s housing showed homelessness is getting worse.
“We want to see families being able to pay rent and not having to be transient. We want families to be able to provide three good meals a day for their children. Children to have more than one pair of shoes and a raincoat, imagine not having those this week – how would you get to school or dry out if your one school uniform was sopping wet? We want children to have their own bed, their own towel, their own toothbrush. For young women to be able to live with dignity and have access to feminine hygiene products.
“KidsCan provided more than 18 thousand sanitary items to schools last year and the need is increasing. When you don’t have these basic things, you can’t participate in society, you can’t get into the classroom in a position to learn and you feel a sense of hopelessness, and we all know if you don’t have hope, you don’t have much,” says Julie Chapman.
The recent Colmar Brunton Better Futures 2017 research released in January this year revealed that New Zealanders considered the number one priority for achieving a sustainable future is relieving our country from poverty.
Julie Chapman is calling on more Kiwis to take action and support Kiwi kids in need by signing up to become monthly donors.
“There are a lot of compassionate Kiwis out there, and we’re lucky to have the support of our principal partner Meridian Energy and other sponsors, but the fact remains as a country we will be unable to achieve a poverty-free status as long as people continue to blame the parents instead of listening to them.
“What it comes down to is families having enough money to provide the basics of life that they and their children need. Right now, there are thousands of families, who are unable to do that. The success of the Child Poverty Reduction Bill will be dependent on the voice of those living in poverty right now being heard as part of the process,” says Julie Chapman.
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