Family and child
Children’s Commissioner: “Prioritise child poverty in 2014 elections”
Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills has called for child poverty to be a key issue in the elections of 2014.  In an opinion piece in the NZ Herald, he has suggested that the public will need to make some ‘tough decisions’ to put child poverty high on the agenda.  “We will need to send clear messages to decision makers about our priorities,” he said.     Dr Wills suggested that it is voters and influential organisations who must throw their support behind his call, in order to influence all parties to prioritise this issue.  “…no government will go further than the public mood will allow,” he said  “… as the debates around election year start to heat up, what will your contribution be? Will you leave the tough choices to the politicians, or will you stand up in your own organisations and ask: what can we do to prioritise children in this election year?”   HPF Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi welcomed Dr Wills’ article.  “Child poverty is the root cause of so much ill-health in Aotearoa New Zealand,” he said.  “An investment in this tragic situation would go a long way to improve the wellbeing of a large sector of our society.”   Dr Wills’ article directed his challenge at older people, motorists and health managers; asking them to call for greater prioritisation of child poverty.  Acommentary in the same paper provides responses from the Automobile Association, Grey Power, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Labour children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ahern; the latter of whom offered assurances that Labour would prioritise child poverty.   HPF has reported on the the Child Poverty Monitor, released on 9 December 2013, which revealed that a quarter of New Zealand children currently live in poverty.   Visit our Children and Young People page to read more on this topic.   Pictured: Dr Russell Wills with a young patient (photo:   Jo Lawrence-King