According to research by Dr Innes Asher (Auckland Professor and Paediatrician), 25% of all children (270,000) live below the 60% line (meaning, they live in households that have less than 60% of median income). Of these, 170,000 live below the 50% line, and 50% of these children are Maori and Pacific, 40% are in working families and 60% are beneficiary families.
Our inequality rates are also rising, which means the poorest are getting poorer. Child deprivation rates have also been rising since 2008. In 2011, our child deprivation rate was 21%, whereas the best performing OECD countries had rates of 6-7 percent.
Increasing inequality means a weaker economy, and in effect increasing inequality – leading to a vicious cycle.
We are a group of doctors on the East Coast who have begun discussing how we can try to make a difference, because it can be frustrating to see children and adults coming in to hospital at a late stage of their disease, when these health outcomes are largely avoidable.
What we’re doing to reduce inequality
We are currently hosting a once monthly meeting in the upstairs hall at the Holy Trinity Waiapu, corner of Derby St and Palmerston Rd – the first Wednesday of each month at 7pm.
These meetings are aimed at increasing awareness about child poverty and inequality in New Zealand, by watching a relevant short film or documentary, followed by discussion with tea and treats afterwards.
Our second aim is to increase involvement in the community. We are hoping to link in with community projects that are already happening within schools and different organisations to benefit children. These could be: painting a school hall; visiting local schools to serve breakfast and to discuss diet and exercise; smoking cessation; gathering food from local businesses to distribute to families in need; and advocating for state houses that are not cold, mouldy or damp.