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NZ 'not doing enough' to stop poverty, violence

Published: 9:16AM Wednesday February 12, 2014 Source: ONE News

The Government isn't doing enough to combat the issues of child poverty and domestic violence the Salvation Army says, following its state of the nation report.

The report showed children continue to be violently and sexually assaulted at alarming rates, with a 68% increase in reported cases in the last five years.

Child poverty and abuse are two of the key problem areas identified in the report, which is designed to provide a broad snapshot of New Zealand's social progress over the past five years.

"These two areas are just sticking, they're not changing and they really do need to change," the Salvation Army's Major Campbell Roberts says.

It's something New Zealanders and the Government are not putting enough emphasis on, he told TV ONE's Breakfast.

"We've got to say there actually is not enough being done at this stage.

"It's not targeted enough and it's not strong enough, and I think as a New Zealand public, we actually need to say to our politicians, these need to be the top priorities as we're coming into the next three years."

Decreases in the rates of teen pregnancy and infant mortality, and an increase in the number of children in early childhood education, are proof positive changes can be made, Mr Roberts says.

"We've got to keep doing things until that actually happens. But that does mean prioritising, it does mean that perhaps other things need to be put on hold.

"It's a task for all New Zealanders, and we all need to be sharing in it."

The Green Party agrees it's time for action.

"How many more reports cataloguing its failure to address child poverty does the National Government need before it will step outside of its denial politics and do something about it?" co-leader Metiria Turei said in a statement.

"“This must be the last alarm bell that gets the Government moving on child poverty."

Meanwhile, Family First says the report is proof the controversial anti-smacking law has failed.

National director Bob McCoskrie says the law has "wasted valuable time and resource of agencies distracted from dealing with actual child abuse and dysfunctional parents".

Child abuse rates are a "national disgrace" and can no longer be tip-toed around, he says.