The causes of child poverty are complex, but that hasn't
stopped dedicated individuals and organisations from finding and implementing
solutions. The Child Poverty Action Group's Post Budget Breakfast last Thursday
was evidence of these efforts.
Ara Social Work students Madeline
Bay and Yasue Hirao spoke at the event, sharing their research and community projects with an audience drawn from the
health and social agency sectors. Guest speakers with many years of experience
also spoke about child poverty.
Ara Social Work studentsYasue Hirao and Madeline
Bay contributed to an event addressing the problem of child poverty in New Zealand.
Focus on Mairehau
Bay discussed her work placement during her first year of
the Bachelor of Social Work. She worked with The Mairehau Project, an
initiative led by Neighbourhood Trust in conjunction with Te Ora Hau, Kingdom
Resources and Mairehau Primary school.
"Mairehau is a high needs area," she said. "For example,
21.7% of population are single-parent families. Earthquakes destroyed 600 state
homes, two schools closed in area and there were several mergers. This created
a massive influx in children presenting with anxiety disorders and post
traumatic stress syndrome symptomatic behaviour."
Bay found that post
earthquake demographic changes, with an increase of working families, was
actually working against the community because it had sparked funding cuts. Those
who needed support were therefore worse off.
Her involvement was "helping
to run community led interventions and initiatives so the power for change was
in the hearts and hands of the people themselves."
Comparing to Japan
Hirao looked to her native
Japan for comparisons and found a large scale problem with different
contributing factors to the New Zealand context. While single parent families are
on the increase in Japan, the stigma attached to accessing social welfare, the
high costs of education and the reluctance of Japanese men to pay child support
is creating huge challenges for women trying to bring up children alone.
Child poverty is not going
The first guest speaker Paul
Dalziel, Deputy Director of the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit at
Lincoln University, kicked off the programme at 7.30am. Drawing on 25 years of
research into social policy, he argued that child poverty is getting worse and
we need significant social change to make a difference.
Dalziel was followed by Rosee Hodgson, who
completed her Master's in Public Health in 2015, focusing on the perceptions of
neighbourhood that children develop in a socioeconomically deprived area of
Christchurch. Hodgson's work with these children showed the importance of
belonging and how stigma affects children's identity. She is now is working
part time as the Solutions to Child Poverty Advocate for the Anglican Diocese
Stephanie Cowan, the third guest speaker, is
founding director of Change for our Children, an independent and self-funded
social enterprise based in Christchurch. She shared stories of success from
more than 25 years of experience in designing and implementing change
programmes at regional, national and international levels, particularly the 'pepi
pod' project which achieved a decline in infant mortality rates in the Maori
community by providing sleeping pods and resources to families with young
Find out more: Social Work programmes at Ara.