Scratching the itch

Talk abounds about the problem of children in poverty – hands are wrung, blame is cast, and the resulting cost escalates exponentially. But does the Government’s response to hungry kids in schools show any real empathy for those who earn less than $40,000? Sometimes it seems as if the poor are just irritations, like the fly that continues to buzz in the Government’s face. They are occasionally swatted at and usually missed.

Will the Government’s response to public calls for action actually have an effect on the lives of the children? Will it support their families and whanau? Will it support them to earn a sustainable income and gain the skills (budgeting, parenting etc) enabling them to make good parenting decisions? Anything less is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. If the Government is merely piggy backing on the great work carried out by Fonterra and Sanitarium providing milk and Weetbix in some low decile schools then this an ambulance not a change breaker.

I was fortunate to meet the Minister of Social Development last week. No matter ones political spots there is no doubting Paula Bennett’s passion for the difficult and complex task she has. The ideas she is trying to put in place sound very sensible, supportive and innovative.  

Let’s hope the Government develops a comprehensive response and stops layering one-off initiatives on top of one another with no lasting effect. Let us see a co-ordinated front being driven by the Government. They could learn by listening to the small community agencies and groups that are having success with parents and children and are supported in their communities. Success requires ALL Government portfolios to address the same issue at the same time and to plan TOGETHER and LISTEN to advice. At the moment it is at best adhoc.
 
Helen Jackman
Accent Learning