Source: Save the Children
Save the Children is asking politicians and voters to put children’s needs at the top of the agenda ahead of Election 23, with five vital asks for tamariki.
The child rights organisation, that has been gathering children and youth voices in recent months through its children’s elections and surveys, is concerned that children have been missing from many of the political debates and policy promises made by politicians during the election campaign.
“Across the board, political discussions about and commitments to children have been troublingly low,” says Save the Children Advocacy Director Jacqui Southey.
“More disturbing still is the headline-grabbing approach to policies on complex issues such as youth crime – everything from boot camps to demerit points – while not one of them is looking to address the real drivers of youth crime: poverty, substance abuse, exclusion, and enduring cycles of violence.
“We do acknowledge the recent commitments to continue the Healthy School Lunch Programme by Labour, Greens, Te Pāti Māori and now National, and welcome the Green Party’s promise to provide greater investment in children in their first 1000 days by doubling and extending the Best Payment up to three years of age.
“However, children’s needs must be prioritised across the political spectrum. Too many children in Aotearoa are not having their rights met. Many of these issues are long-standing, and if we are to make real change, we need all parties to step up and provide child-focused policy solutions.”
By listening to and responding to the voices of children and young people and in recognition of the challenges facing children in Aotearoa, Save the Children has developed five key policy asks to all political parties that directly uphold children’s rights and support their wellbeing now and in the future.
- Climate Action now for a Sustainable Future.
- An Affordable and Healthy Home for Every Child.
- Lift the rate of the Child Disability Allowance.
- Continued and sustained funding for Ka Ora Ka Ako – Healthy School Lunches Programme.
- Access to quality and affordable early childhood education for all children up to 6 years of age.
Says Ms Southey: “Children and young people make up almost 25% percent of our population and despite being impacted by the decisions made by our politicians today, those under 18 do not have an opportunity to vote. That’s why it’s so important that, as voters, we support policies that will enhance their wellbeing in order to build a strong Aotearoa. When our children thrive, we all do.”
Scorecards released earlier this month by Tick for Kids, a collaboration of organisations dedicated to children’s wellbeing which Save the Children is part of, provides voters with important insights into how the country’s major political parties plan to prioritise children in their policy promises this election year.
Parties were invited to respond with either a ‘tick’, ‘no’, ‘other’, ‘need more evidence’ or ‘skip this question’. The responses from the parties signal their willingness or otherwise to invest in policies directly benefitting children, or continue to support commitments already made to children, such as access to free or subsidised public transport, healthy and affordable housing, or provision of healthy lunches at school.
“We encourage voters to take a look at the scorecards and make their votes count for Tamariki. Essentially when they vote, Tick for Kids.”
As part of its ongoing work to ensure young people are heard, Save the Children is holding a Youth Policy Hackathon event this weekend where young people aged between 13-18 will have an opportunity to come up with policy solutions to some of the biggest issues facing rangatahi.
About Save the Children NZ:
Save the Children works in 120 countries across the world. The organisation responds to emergencies and works with children and their communities to ensure they survive, learn and are protected.
Save the Children NZ currently supports international programmes in Fiji, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Laos, Nepal, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Areas of work include child protection, education and literacy, disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation, and alleviating child poverty.