Child Poverty in New Zealand | The Jackal

8 Mar 2011

Child Poverty in New Zealand

There is no question that child poverty is a major problem for New Zealand. Because of various Governmental policies over the last few decades, we now have an epidemic of one in five Kiwi children growing up in poverty. The true financial cost of this is hard to quantify, but I believe it can be placed in the billions of dollars. One cannot place a price however on the emotional cost poverty inflicts on its victims.

If we understand the effects of such a large amount of impoverished children on society in general, we have a better way of alleviating the causative effects of impoverishment. However a better solution is to put in place policies so that children do not live in poverty. As a developed and wealthy country, this should be well within our grasp to achieve.

Some might say that poverty in New Zealand is not such a major problem, but all one really has to do is read the recent Household Labour Force Survey and some of the statistics it contains. With such a sharp increase in unemployment since National took over, the one in five children in poverty could easily increase to one in three if not more. Yet the Government seems oblivious to the situation and there’s no impetus to rectify the causative issues through positive policy changes. In fact such abusive policies are likely to increase with the Tax Working Group and Welfare Working Groups recommendations, if their archaic ideas are implemented, even to a lessor degree.

Now there are a lot of people fighting the good fight and recently the Child Poverty Action Group took the Government to the Human Rights Tribunal on behalf of all impoverish children. Unfortunately the Tribunal found that policy discrimination against children of beneficiaries is justified. This does not bode well for the future of this country. We need our children to grow up well nourished, clothed and housed to be able to contribute to a functioning society.

We do not want the continuance of destructive policies which inhibit people through all the disadvantages associated with childhood poverty. There is no doubt that childhood poverty is bad for the economy and the old saying a stitch in time saves nine seems apt. It is a pity the previous and current Governments did not learn to sow, let alone implement policies that alleviate impoverishment.

The Public Health Association (PHA) says the call by The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) for the Government and Health Sector urgently to address inequalities is further endorsement that we've had the wrong health focus for too long. Read the full article here.

New Zealands child poverty rates are really something to be ashamed of. We can now align ourselves with the third world and all their poverty related and induced disease statistics. The discrimination shown towards the poor is clearly unjustifiable. The proportion of children living in poverty rose during the 1990s, from about 5.5 per cent in 1990 to around 14 per cent in 2005, reflecting the 1991 benefit cuts and a freeze in family support rates from 1998 to 2005. We are just seeing some of the extreme negative social impacts from such destructive policies. I for one will not be voting for anybody who continues to abuse our children through negative politicking.