I have already blogged about Child Poverty in New Zealand at The Irrefutable Proof About Hobbits last year.  It is a surprise to be doing it again after hearing similar things said at a forum hosted by my friends at the Centre for Theology and Public Issues.  Haven’t we fixed this problem?  Apparently not!

I learned two things before the lecture started:

  1. The technology available in the Archway lecture theatres makes an interesting popping noise when changing between programmes; and re-assuringly,
  2. other people have problems with hardware too.

The Expert Advisory Group on Child Poverty introduced two definitions of poverty: material deprivation and low income.  There are other definitions of deprivation causing poverty.  These are the two they used.

Poverty rates in New Zealand are higher now than they were in the 1980s.  This is caused by:

  • Parental unemployment and under-employment
  • Low income and work at a minimum wage
  • Policy design issues

Child poverty is reducing prosperity in New Zealand.  Income support and child support is not taken up by the government.  This is for all children.  It’s time to change the agenda!  The political wind is blowing in the wrong direction.  It’s time to take a stand in the manifesto bidding wars.

Liz Craig, Director of the New Zealand Child and Youth Epidemiology Service,  talked about family history.  Her great-grandmother was recorded in the case studies of the Otago Benevolent Society of the Nineteenth Century.  She was a widow supporting nine children, two of which initially were bringing in income.  The Otago Benevolent Society based their assessment on what the family were doing and could they meet their rent.  The widowed mother had a mangle and could earn some income using it.  The case officer would assess what she was doing for her situation and whether it was felt that she was counted among the deserving poor.  If the case officer felt she was not doing enough to provide for herself and her family the society’s benevolence to her would be reduced.  This situation lasted in New Zealand until 1935 when the minimum family wage was introduced as benevolence was unsustainable during the Great Depression.

How do we frame issues to positively express the liberal story of care?  How do we frame income adequacy for families?  How do we start a new, vulnerable, innocent generation ‘climbing to the light’?  We make it public agenda — politicians should be accountable.

How do we convince middle, male, New Zealand to take the issue of our country’s human capital seriously.  Male New Zealand needs to take the issue of our children and families’ welfare seriously.  According to Professor Jonathan Boston the attendance at the forum of one-third made up of men is actually a high percentage in such a discussion.

And we need music.  Les Miserables which I used above is a start.  There needs to be more songs.  ‘This Child Is Your Child’.

I think I might have to do some letter-writing.  I can think of several Members of Parliament who need to hear from me!

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