by Jan Logie
In October Child Poverty Action released a report ‘Benefit sanctions: Creating an invisible underclass of children?’ which found government policy “… effectively creates a class of economically vulnerable, invisible and unequal children whose wellbeing is intimately tied to the welfare/labour market status of their caregivers. This necessarily means some children will not have the same opportunities as their peers”
Last week Unicef released a report on children’s rights in New Zealand and found that New Zealand has failed to put children’s rights into domestic law and failed to prioritise child poverty.
Today the Commissioner for Children released their child poverty Monitor that has found 265,000, that’s 25% , of our children are living in poverty and 10% are living in severe and persistent poverty.
This morning the Prime Minister focussed on the numbers saying” if you look at some of the graphs I’ve seen they show poverty is actually lower.
In the face of consistent critical reports the government refuses to measure poverty or put a plan in place to reduce it and in fact continues to implement policies that will entrench and exacerbate it.
Child Poverty in New Zealand has doubled since the 80s even though working for Families significantly reduced child poverty for children whose parents were in work. Both of these things tell us poverty is amenable to policy intervention; income support rates above the poverty rate, EEO policies, collective bargaining and strong employment laws would all significantly reduce child poverty.
As Nelson Mandela said
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”
If we guarantee the essentials we guarantee the opportunities. If we don’t then we’re locking a whole segment of our population into lifelong injustice. Our children and our country deserve better.