The Fight Against Child Poverty in New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country located southeast of Australia. The population of the nation is estimated to be 4.8 million with 1.2 million of its people under the age of 18. The issues of income inequality and poverty impact children heavily. The children living in this unfortunate situation lack quality meals to eat, sanitation products and adequate opportunities in education. COVID-19 threatens to increase the number of children these hardships affect. The child poverty rate in New Zealand stands at 27% which is higher than the 13% world average. However, government officials have a plan for the next 10 years to lower poverty in New Zealand among children.
4 Ways New Zealand’s Government Fights Child Poverty
- Free Sanitary Products: Government officials have agreed to help girls in school between the ages of 9 and 18 years by providing them with free sanitary products. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that this addresses the concern that young women potentially stay home from school because of the lack of access to these products, which may hamper their educational development. Ardern said she hopes this will ease some of the stress girls experience while in school and thinks it will improve attendance rates.
- Exercise: The country’s Ministry of Health implemented guidelines to promote physical wellness for its adult and child population. Children living in the poorest areas are expected to live almost nine years less than those who reside in the wealthiest areas. Exercise can help increase the lifespan of children in poverty, especially as child obesity is a growing concern. The guidelines for children under the age of 18 recommend one hour a day of participation in recreational activities such as sports and no more than two hours a day of engaging in other interests like watching television.
- Housing Initiatives: The nation’s government is working on fighting poverty in New Zealand by providing better affordable housing options. The initiative has created an opportunity to assist those living in impoverished areas and provide other resources besides housing. Access to doctors for little to no cost, as a part of the initiative, has benefited families experiencing “material hardship” by helping them receive medical treatment for their children and themselves.
- Addressing Child Abuse: New Zealand has had a high number of child abuse reports over the years. With COVID-19 forcing schools to shut down across the globe, some officials have worried about a sudden spike in child abuse. The country’s Chief Executive of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Gráinne Moss, said that social workers have received tools to help combat this issue and be there for children at risk. Poverty in New Zealand remains one of the biggest factors for the occurrence of child abuse. Effective methods such as sending meal kits, arts and crafts and virtual chatting between children and social workers have helped to lower the number of abuse cases during the pandemic.
The government of New Zealand believes these steps will reduce child poverty in New Zealand. Over the next 10 years, officials plan to add more items to the list of solutions to help children suffering from a lack of needed resources. The added items will focus on the purposes of improving child health and wellness.
– Donovan Baxter