New Conservative is very concerned with the findings of the State of the Nation 2022 Report.
There is an increase of 21 000 benefit-dependent homes, where children have been living since before Covid began. An increase of 37 000 since the Labour government came to power 4 years ago, yet the government recently boasted in an official announcement that we now have the lowest unemployment (3.4%) in decades.
What are we not being told? There appears to be a blatant contradiction of stats here where desperate families and benefit dependency is increasing at an alarming rate, while unemployment is dropping to record levels. Is lack of integrity and dishonest interpretation of data becoming a common theme?
The report revealed serious issues with children at risk, children and violence, educational attainment, and youth mental health resulting in a 30% increase in self-harm for 10-14-year-olds in the past 5 years, along with a 30% increase in children who are victims of assault.
This would necessitate an urgent need for more resources and people to champion the welfare of our most vulnerable. One of those champions who has been a consistent force advocating and providing a watchdog on the government to ensure they deliver promises is the Children’s Commissioner. For three decades the role of the Children’s Commissioner has been to advocate for children, to monitor and ensure the government keeps its promises. It should not surprise us then that the government wants to remove this check and balance, especially when part of the role is to be critical of what the government is or is not doing.
Children must have a champion, a hero of sorts that is perceived as user friendly in the children’s world. There is a trust that comes with the specific role of the Commissioner, and people know that they can approach them with confidence of being heard.
“Children need a protector, not a panel of bureaucrats who are distant to the individual needs of our vulnerable rangatahi (youth),” says Helen Houghton, Co-Leader and Education Spokeswoman for New Conservative. She adds, “Children and parents need a face they recognise and someone consistent who they can trust to approach when in dangerous and concerning situations.
“As someone who places the protection of children as high importance it is outrageous and downright cruel, the complete opposite of the ‘kindness’ mantra or should I say ‘trap’ echoed from the beehive. One thing this government is good at is using language as a psychological weapon to seduce and mislead the public.”
New Conservative is here to keep government on task, and we’ll start by prioritising people, and especially the vulnerable such as children.
Throwing money at it is no solution, nor is adding extra social services. We need to start at the cause, but we also must keep in place support that has already proven effective, while continuing to add more. We need to support and promote healthy family relationships while we also address the issues of drugs, alcohol, education, and violence.
Poverty is linked with substance abuse.
Poverty is linked with addiction.
Poverty is linked with poor governance and poor legislation.
“As New Conservative Co-Leader I call on the government to make children and family top of the government’s agenda. No excuses,” concludes Houghton.
Let’s save the Children’s Commissioner.
Helen Houghton, BTchLn (Education and learning), (Christchurch)
Co-Leader, New Conservative