Our Government has put the wellbeing of children at the heart of everything we do.
As we celebrate World Children’s Day, we’re taking a look at some of the ways Labour is working to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child.
Our Government was elected to turn around New Zealand’s record on child poverty. It’s a complex issue that will take time to fix, but we’re making good progress. Already, initiatives like our Families Package have lifted 66,500 children out of poverty and all nine measures of child poverty in this country are in decline.
We’re helping more families get ahead by lifting incomes, extending paid parental leave, and putting in place a significant cost of living package. We also recently announced that we’re significantly expanding childcare assistance, cutting costs for working parents and supporting more children into early education. You can find out more here.
But we know there’s still more to do. We’re committed to continuing our progress on child poverty and inequality, so that we can make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child.
We’re working hard to create an education system that gives every child in Aotearoa the best chance to succeed. By providing free lunches in schools, we’re making sure children get a nutritious meal so they have the energy to learn. Our free and healthy school lunch programme, Ka Ora Ka Ako, has been rolled out to lots of schools and kura across New Zealand - and it’s making a big difference in the classroom, with one million lunches being delivered every week. We’ve also rolled out free period products in schools, making sure young people don’t have to miss out on their education.
We believe that all Kiwi kids deserve classrooms that are fit-for-purpose, vibrant spaces to learn and play in, and decent sports facilities. That’s why we delivered the biggest capital injection for school maintenance funding in over two decades – and thanks to this, almost every single state school in New Zealand has been able to make much-needed upgrades. You can find out more here.
On top of this, we’re building hundreds of new classrooms around the country and we’re boosting investment to give schools the teachers and equipment they need.
Labour is focused on making sure Kiwi kids are healthy and happy. That’s why we’re working hard to create a world-class health system. We’re upgrading hospitals and health centres right across the country, we’re training more nurses than ever, and we’ve boosted funding for Pharmac so more young people can get the lifesaving medicines they need.
We’re making sure Kiwi kids know it’s OK to ask for help, and that help is there when they need it. Already, more than 10,000 children have been supported through Mana Ake, and this in-school mental health programme is now set to benefit 195,000 kids around the country. We’re also putting more counsellors in secondary schools.
We’ve also extended free GP visits to all children under 14, to make sure the cost of visiting a doctor isn’t a factor when it comes to keeping kids well. The latest statistics show that policies like these, alongside increasing subsidies to visit the doctor and lifting family incomes, are making a real difference to New Zealand’s health.
We want every child to grow up in a healthy home, and we’re making good progress on our plan to make sure this is a reality.
We’ve built more public and transitional houses than any Government in decades, and are on track to deliver 18,000 by 2024. Housing supply is ramping up, with a record number of new houses consented this year. We’re speeding up the scale and pace of house building through our $3.8 billion Housing Acceleration Fund to make sure more families have a place to call their own.
Thousands of children across the country are warmer and healthier thanks to our Healthy Homes Initiative, which provides beds and bedding, curtains, and heating to those who need it most. This is just one way we’re supporting families with children at risk of rheumatic fever, we’ve also put in place the annual Winter Energy Payment, which helps around a million people with their heating bills through the colder months and ensures whānau stay healthy with less stress.
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time. We owe it to the next generation to make tackling climate change a priority – and we have.
We’ve passed the landmark Zero Carbon Act, banned new offshore oil and gas exploration, made it cheaper for families to switch to electric vehicles, invested in innovative low carbon technology and more to help us meet our climate goals. Because of measures like this, New Zealand is on track to bend the curve of our emissions downwards for the first time in history.
These are just some of the ways that we’re supporting families and improving the wellbeing of New Zealand children. You can learn more about our record here.