Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Our children, our future, National's failure!


More than 300,000 children in New Zealand now suffer from income related poverty according to the Children's Commissioner. This is 45,000 children more than what was documented in his previous report a year ago and brings the poverty percentage up from 24% of children to 29%. We are almost at the point when 1 out of every 3 children lives in an income deprived household.

The future of our society and our economy is dependent on the support we provide oncoming generations and yet a growing proportion are starting life in environments that are detrimental to their health and development. The first five years of life practically determine a child's future and serious respiratory illness or rheumatic fever in the early years generally results in a life time disability.

There is also a connection between poverty and domestic violence and in 2014 there were 102,000 family violence investigations (up 7% from 2013). On average the police are being called out to a family violence incident every five and a half minutes. New Zealand has one of the worst records for child welfare in the OECD and one of the highest youth suicide rates. Alcohol consumption is also related to a large percent of violent and criminal behaviour.

The physical and psychological damage being caused to many of our children is extreme and the organisation charged with protecting our most vulnerable has been found wanting in a recent report. Most children ending up under Child Youth and Family care end up no better off than they were in their previous circumstances because of a culture described as "dump and run".  State care stops at age 17 and these youth are abandoned to survive on their own on minimal benefits. We have one of the highest imprisonment rates in the world and 83% of inmates under 20 have a care and protection record with CYF.

We also have a severe housing problem (currently 15,000 homes short in Auckland and rising to an estimated 25,000 by 2018) and the growing numbers of homeless families living in garages, cars, on the streets or crammed into already overcrowded homes are reflecting this. However, many of those lucky enough to get a house find that they are poorly insulated, damp and unhealthy and the cause of growing hospital presentations and even death.

1/3 of our children are overweight or obese and those children living in deprived circumstances are five times more likely to be obese than those in the least deprived areas. Pasifika families are amongst our poorest families and 30% of Pacific children are obese.

Mai Chen is leading the Superdiversity Socktake and under the current population trends, Europeans will soon be a minority in New Zealand, with Maori, Pasifika and Asian communities dominating in the decades ahead. Poverty and poor health affect Maori and Pasifika children more than others and they are becoming a larger percentage of our population.

The Government has refused to measure child poverty in any meaningful way and has desperately tried to hide the true extent of the problem. Nothing that they have done over the last seven years effectively addresses the causes of poverty. Rather than ensuring children are able to live in healthy, loving environments where their parents earn an adequate income to meet their physical and educational needs they have thrown bandaids at the problem. Anne Tolley's list of government responses are just reactionary tinkerings around the edges and for every new initiative that is funded, another is removed. Surprisingly children from wealthy homes are more likely to receive support than those who are are not, 25% of Kings College students received special education support when sitting NCEA.

Inequality is a large part of the problem and, while wealthy New Zealanders have seen their incomes dramatically rise under a National Government, those on the lowest incomes have seen their spending power stagnate and drop. Our economy recovered from the great financial crisis quicker than most and little of that recovery was shared with those who needed it most. The most recent example of the the extent of inequality was when our elected representatives were provided with pay increases at least double the median increase received by most workers. Our Prime Minister received a 3.11% pay rise or $13,000 more onto his annual income, this contrasts with the biggest increase that beneficiaries had received for some time ($25 a week) which will see them gain $1,300 a year.

Our children can't vote and have no political power and yet they are hugely significant in determining the future of our country. A lack of investment in our children will seriously limit our long term resilience and directly impact on the kind of society we will have in the future. 300,000 children desperately need safe and healthy homes, good food and their educational needs met. Their parents can only provide these if they earn enough and decent affordable homes are readily available. This National Government can't fob off responsibility any longer, substantial and urgent action is needed right now. The cost of doing little is substantial.

11 comments:

bsprout said...

Interestingly I have two readers who ticked the 'absolute twaddle' box, I can guess who they are ;-) A more honest response would be to put forward a strong alternative argument and point out any factual inaccuracies. Tick and run is hardly a noble or honest approach to debate.

Philip Todd said...

Tick and run is indicative of why our once great country with strong supportive communities is now in the shape it is. We will reach a crisis point but until then rather than look for solutions some will blindly follow the National agenda of, don't worry as long as you are OK. Pretty amazing how deep seated this has become. It is easy to blame drugs and bad parenting and the multitude of reasons run out to support doing nothing. Right back when Rodger Douglas started the slide there should have been alternative policies put up that made it harder for businesses just to slash and burn. While working people are in the loop they are usually OK and it should have been the responsibility of anyone putting off staff to spend time looking at how they could help them into the future. Even today its still far to easy for a company CEO to just lay off staff without thought to the social implications. We need a lot more visionary business leaders who can see the much bigger picture than the bottom line on the annual accounts. Sadly the focus has shifted from using their talents to build bigger and better businesses that reflect into the communities to scrambling to get on the money train of multi million dollar salaries

bsprout said...

You are right, Philip, we need to get the economy functioning as it should, serving all New Zealanders.

Paranormal said...

Have you for one moment considered the tick and run response as you call it is totally due to your completely blinkered, highly politicised set in concrete mindset? Even when proven wrong with irrefutable evidence you will not abandon your hard left views.

People are over what is clearly a political agenda around "poverty". The latest 'branding' that is child poverty is just not believable. The way it is measured will still give us child poverty even if every single person in NZ was a multi millionaire. The public have seen through it as a dishonest way of forwarding your political agenda.

bsprout said...

Ha, gotcha Paranormal, how kind of you to reveal yourself.

To you child poverty is like climate change, all the other evidence that supports its existence is conveniently ignored. I fully agree that using just a percentage of the median income is a rough measure but when you add the following statistics that I have linked to before it fleshes out a worrying reality:
- The growing number of children with diseases and ill-health related to poverty presenting at hospitals
- The growing number of working families needing food parcels to survive
- The growing number of families living in substandard and crowded houses
- The thousands of children being supported for their basic needs by Kidscan
- The doubling of the homeless in central Auckland
- The increasing levels of domestic violence related to the stresses of poverty

The only political agenda related to poverty is the denial that it exists so that the wealthy can extend their wealth through paying less tax, employing cheap labour and profiting from a housing market that has become an exclusive one.

You need to read the Morgan Foundation research on the myths around poverty. I would have thought that you would have realised the error of your poverty beliefs by the fact that there are such strong similarities to climate change denial and poverty denial. In both cases there is a wealth of evidence from a range of sources that supports the reality behind these two very real crises and yet you and your mates generally just reference a lone blogger in support of your own views. I would love you to come up with another credible source other than the less than credible Lindsay Mitchell.

I suspect it will be another unfulfilled challenge ;-)


Paranormal said...

You're just proving my point DK

The Morgan foundation have been shown to be less than honest: http://lindsaymitchell.blogspot.it/2016/01/morgan-foundation-cant-be-trusted.html

And yet again you return to your political agenda. I don't deny there are children in need, but it's what's causing the problem where you completely ( or is that deliberately) miss the point. It's sad that you want a significant proportion of the population trapped in poverty to cement your voting bloc.

Your worrying reality is not really what it seems either. It is just proving the point there is a never ending demand for free stuff.

robertguyton said...

It would have been better if he'd remained an anonymous tick.

bsprout said...

Paranormal, you are so predictable. Out comes Lindsay Mitchell again as your champion poverty denier with another rather petty argument. The research around the world reveals that giving money unconditionally to poor people actually works, most spend it on their children or items that most would consider a high priority. Do you really believe that the hundreds of thousands of poor in NZ are all somehow different from the poor elsewhere? http://www.ifmr.co.in/blog/2012/12/26/unconditional-cash-transfers-what-does-research-say/

You also appear to ignore the fact that the most generous people in sharing what they have are the poor. The rich begrudge giving anything to the poor and make up stuff to defend their lack of empathy and generosity.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hidden-motives/201008/why-are-the-poor-more-generous

I wonder why you hate the poor so much and want to deny struggling children a good start in life, Paranormal?

Robert, it is useful to expose the illogical thinking of the Right, especially when Parnormal obviously has no idea that poverty has grown faster in NZ under this and the previous National Governments than Labour ones. The stupidity of blocking a living wage as a means of ending poverty amongst the working poor is unbelievable. Why Paranormal is happy for his taxes to used to subsidise wages and landlords' incomes is beyond me.

Philip Todd said...

Nigel Latta did an excellent piece on TV tonight about economics and was heartening to see the bit at the end where a group of business people are concerned about the state of the nation and even more the failure of many business leaders to understand the big picture. Henry Ford wanted to sell cars so increased his workers wages so they could afford to buy them. Sustainable business! Most business leaders in NZ have any vision past next years bottom line. Even worse is our govt has little vision either. We need to put all the parties under the blow torch to explain how they will make the changes that must come soon.

Paranormal said...

Yet again you prove me right. See what my original comment was about.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/peteroborne/100127372/in-every-area-of-our-public-life-the-left-is-losing-the-argument/

bsprout said...

Paranormal, you are incorrigible. You deny the realities around you and link to the 'Fox News' of the UK for your inspiration. It seems that you actually believe that Labour is the party of "borrow and spend" while National is the party of economic good sense. You obviously didn't watch Nigel Latta, as Philip did, because if you had you would have seen a succession of people including the head of Treasury explain what National has done over the past 7 years:
- Borrowed $50 billion so that Govt debt is now $60 billion (only $10 billion under Labour).
-Reduced tax income so that we can no longer afford to pay for basic Government services without ongoing borrowing.
-Supported increased inequality where the already wealthy have seen their wealth rapidly increase, while ordinary working new Zealanders can no longer live independently on their wages.
-Overseen an ongoing increase in private debt, especially for our young people who have been lumbered with student debt, few high paid job opportunities that use their skills and a massive shortage of affordable homes.

It's a mess!