Te Ora Hou Media Release: 17 June 2014

It takes a child to raise a country

The national network of faith-based Māori community and youth development organisations Te Ora Hou Aotearoa endorses the Tick for Kids campaign “It takes a child to raise a country”.

The campaign launched today, aims to make children’s developmental needs and human rights the priority for voters choice in the 2014 general election.

New Zealand’s current investment in children is insufficient to reduce the impact of poverty on their health and wellbeing, says Manu Caddie, a Te Ora Hou community worker in the Kaiti suburb of Gisborne. New Zealand spends less than half of the OECD average on children aged up to five.

“We don’t just want more money poured into professional social and health services, we want to see party policies that empower communities to take care of our own” said Mr Caddie.

Evidence collected by Te Ora Hou suggests that if Government put decent resourcing into community-led development in neighbourhoods and rural areas experiencing high levels of deprivation there would be positive and dramatic shifts in crime, education and health statistics that continue to plague the poorest parts of the country.

In one neighbourhood Te Ora Hou has seen the crime rate fall by thirty percent in three years, the focus has been on encouraging residents to build trust, take an interest in children’s wellbeing and care for each other.

“This is not about providing a social service to fix people, it’s about encouraging residents to realise we already have the resources we need to help ourselves. After decades of dependency, marginalisation and communities being done over by successive Government policies, it takes some sustained effort to turn things around and for our most vulnerable families to realise we are capable and competent.”

In the lead up to the election, Tick for Kids will reinforce the message that our country will only do well when our children do well using the slogan, ‘It takes a child to raise a country!’

Tick for Kids includes UNICEF NZ, Plunket, the Paediatric Society, the Royal NZ College of Public Health Medicine, the National Council of Women, and a range of other organisations concerned that political parties have not paid enough attention to child wellbeing.

The campaign will be working to engage the public so that all of the parties take meaningful action to address the public policy issues that can help improve life for families and children.  People interested in supporting the campaign can contact any of the partner organisations to offer help with local events, to find out what questions to ask candidates, or to write to MPs.  An advocacy toolkit is available at www.tick4kids.org.nz

After a child was shot and killed in the neighbourhood Te Ora Hou Whanganui is based in, residents started a neighbourhood gathering every six weeks that has been going for nearly eight years and has hundreds of people attending and dozens helping make it happen. “The community has organised itself in response to this tragedy and said ‘we never want to let that happen again, violence is unacceptable here’. Relying largely on private donations and support, Te Ora Hou supports the need for central and local government to prioritise Community-Led Development approaches that support neighbourhoods as the focus of change rather than just individuals or the nuclear family.

“We need to get back to neighbourhoods being safe and caring of the young and old, where everyone knows each other and looks out for one another. Public policy has largely worked against this goal for more than 40 years and it is time to change the way Wellington thinks about children in relation to their family and their communities.”

“It’s essential that all parties have strong policies for children that give effect to children’s rights, so that the new parliament can make progress on some of the urgent issues facing children and their families. Tick for Kids will remind voters to keep children in mind when they go to vote” said Mr Caddie.

Te Ora Hou supports volunteer youth workers in the poorest neighbourhoods in Whangarei, Gisborne, Hastings, Whanganui, Wellington and Christchurch. Youth clubs and mentoring relationships help young people develop social skills, stay in school and find employment.

ENDS

For more information contact Manu Caddie 0274 202 957

01:31PM Tuesday, 17 June, 2014

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