Trending Downwards in Child Poverty Is Encouraging

Article – Anton Blank

Trending Downwards in Child Poverty Is Encouraging
By Anton Blank

The latest Child Poverty Monitor, which will be launched in Auckland tomorrow, shows a slight decrease in the numbers of New Zealand children living in poverty.

“The signs are encouraging,” says child advocate Anton Blank. “The new government’s commitment to putting child poverty targets and measures into legislation now makes the goal of reversing the increase in child poverty attainable.

“The Child Poverty Monitor, which is a collaborative project between the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, J R McKenzie Trust and Otago University can take credit for this decrease. They highlight the issue every year and push the issue into the public domain. As a result, the previous government increased benefit rates and made other adjustments.

“In 2011 a report from the advocacy coalition Every Child Counts estimated that 60% of the children living below the poverty line were Maori and Pasifika. The monitor, which will released tomorrow, shows some improvement for these groups, especially in education.

“More Maori and Pasifika students are achieving NCEA Level 2. But Maori in particular lag behind other groups. Working with schools to lift Maori achievement is essential. Research tells us repeatedly that teachers have low expectations of Maori learners, which has created an enduring pattern of under-achievement. If we are serious about lifting Maori children out of poverty, we must focus on education and preparing young Maori for the workforce.

“I commend the Child Poverty Monitor and its partners for their continued advocacy for New Zealand children, and the impressive results we are now seeing.”
ENDS
Anton Blank is a child advocate, writer and publisher living in Auckland. He has an extensive background in Maori development, social work, public health and literature.

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