UNICEF report shows bleak picture of child poverty in New Zealand

A UNICEF report has revealed that as many as 305,000 New Zealand children, or 28 percent, currently live below the poverty line.

Alone this is problematic, but alongside this is the cost it has on society. The report detailed it costs $10 billion year on year, as well as a $2 billion burden on the justice system. 

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Dr Wills, the outgoing Children's Commissioner who leaves in June said, "Everything points to things being far tougher than they were 30 years ago. That's not right in a country like ours and it's not fair." 

In 1984, the child poverty level was just 15 percent, highlighting a trend over the last 36 years of increasing poverty. 

Prime Minister John Key has regularly blamed drug use and poor choices from those on state welfare or struggling with low paid jobs. He said drug dependency locked people out of the workplace and kept them in poverty, according to the NZ Herald. 

"The long and short of it is we need to continue to do more, to do the fundamental reforms and try and help those families into work."

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern believed the comments demonised families in these socio-economic groups and the link Key made between drug abuse and poverty was “completely irresponsible.”

Additionally, Mr Dominic Richardson, co-author of an OECD report concludes that “New Zealand needs to take a stronger policy to focus on child poverty and child health, especially during the early years when it is easier to make a long-term difference. Despite a relatively good average educational performance, gaps in education between top and bottom performers are higher than they need be.”

This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2016.
Posted 10:30am Sunday 21st August 2016 by Joe Higham.