A new coalition of organisations working to have children placed at the centre of public policy development has been launched.
The Every Child Counts campaign is drawing together research and statistics on children’s welfare in New Zealand. It is not a pretty sight.
Sr Marcellin Wilson represents Catholic agency Caritas on the governance group of Every Child Counts, which also includes representatives of Barnardos, UNICEF, Save the Children and Plunket. She says that New Zealand’s child poverty and abuse rates, in a country which has always prided itself as a good place to bring up children, are crimes against humanity.
‘When we actually analyse the statistics for children’s welfare, we have humiliating results for child poverty, infant mortality, children’s accidents and child death from physical abuse.’
Among developed countries, New Zealand has the fourth highest rate of child poverty, while at the same time we have the fifth worst child maltreatment rates and child deaths from injuries.
We also occupy similar positions of shame on tables of infant mortality and child/youth suicide figures.
‘And this is the same section of society from which our future will be drawn, so that if we neglect this group we are committing our country to dysfunctional generations,’ Sr Marcellin said.
The four goals of the campaign, which is focused on the 2005 election period, are:
• Put children at the centre of policy development and implementation
• Ensure every child gets a good start
• End child poverty
• Reduce child abuse and neglect
Sr Marcellin said many European countries considered the impact of all proposed legislation on children, in a mandated ‘child impact report’. ‘New Zealand thinks it is forward looking because we have an environmental impact report. We consider what the impact of legislation will be on the economy and the environment, but not on children. It is a question of priorities.’
The most urgent need of the campaign is to promote the signing up of supporters to the campaign, so that approaches to political parties have the weight of public approval. Although donations would be appreciated, there is no membership fee, and this is not the main purpose of the campaign.
Brochures are available from the Caritas office – Lisa Beech phone 04-4961765 firstname.lastname@example.org or from the Every Child Counts website www.everychildcounts.org.nz