Dear Julie Anne

Julie-Ann Genter, Green Party


A report released today shows that tackling child poverty is critical to improving the mental health outcomes of our young people, the Green Party said today.

The Child Poverty Action Group has released its literature review into child poverty and mental health today in Auckland, with Green MP Julie Anne Genter attending.

“There’s a clear link between child poverty and mental health issues. Stress, inadequate nutrition, and insecure housing all impact on family function and children’s mental health. As soon as we get a government that’s focussed on reducing child poverty, we will see better mental health outcomes for our young people,” said Green Party health spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

“Far too many young children are living in poverty when the most important physical, mental and emotional development is taking place. Our youngest children need better living condition to develop healthily.

“The houses that many children are living in are cold, mouldy, and overcrowded and this will not only be affecting children’s physical health, but their mental health too.

“When in government, the Green Party will ensure that families have the resources to thrive so that children are resilient. We know that child poverty can be addressed, but it needs a strong Government commitment.

“We know that our benefit system and income support system needs an overhaul to address child poverty, and the Green Party is committed to doing this.

“This report also brings up issues being faced by our Māori and Pasifika young people. Having culturally responsive and well-resourced mental health services will save lives.

“I have been pushing hard for a nationwide mental health inquiry to ensure that our young people are getting the best help possible,” said Ms Genter.

I have no problem with raising living standards for people on very low incomes.   How we go about it will probably differ.

But I have a problem with you saying “tackling Child Poverty”.

Child Poverty is a statistical measure.  It defines a certain percentage of children in homes with incomes below the median wage to be living in poverty.

If we all gave those people $5,000 right now, they would still remain in the same statistical hole.

Until Child Poverty is defined as an absolute rather than a relative statistical measure, there is no way we can get ahead.

Child poverty also has to take into account a poverty in parenting.  Some parents get by on a certain amount of money and resources, while others spend those funds on themselves instead of their children.  Again, raising the family income will not lift those children out of poverty.


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