This is a view from afar, as I’m still overseas on work, but apparently Paula Bennett “can’t find the time” to appear on Morning Report this morning.
Why is it particularly important that she appears on our country’s premier news source today? The release of her White Paper on Vulnerable Children is – as she puts it – “one of the biggest and certainly most significant changes that will be in my time as minister.”
The paper has been narrowed from Vulnerable Children to the Most Vulnerable – as she was repeatedly told that the >200,000 children in poverty are certainly all vulnerable, and if you focus on only the vulnerable instead of having universal services, a lot more children may become vulnerable as well…
So the Paper, and the Children’s Action Plan that comes with it, focus only on those already deep in trouble. National seems to generally dislike prevention, preferring ambulances at the bottom of cliffs to fences. Why fix the problem if we can try to somewhat mitigate the disaster…
So nothing on child poverty then. No Food in Schools. No greater support for parents & Plunket, additional training in the life-skills needed to bring up children, no providing enough cash for beneficiary children to get through the week…
“I was always blatantly targeting these most vulnerable, abused and neglected children in this country and that’s what this piece of work was always about [...] I’m unapologetic in my saying we can do a better job for them and that’s where my focus is.”
Sure it’s vital we help those kids – although once again we may wish to look at reducing poverty and teaching life-skills to avoid them getting in that situation; and indeed how about compulsory registration with Well Child, a Lead Maternity Carer etc so and more information sharing between them so we catch vulnerable kids before they’re abused – but we can’t have the Minister of Social Development just forgetting about New Zealand’s other nearly 1 million children.
But then she doesn’t come across the best informed when she admits:
“The day I got offered the job of Minister of Social Development the first thing I said to the prime minister on the phone, at 9pm on a Sunday, was ‘does it include Child, Youth and Family?’”
Ermm… you don’t even know what’s contained in the major portfolio you’re about to take on, and have been shadowing? CYFS is pretty integral since it was merged in in 2006.
I guess the questions Morning Report would have asked about child poverty and food in schools would have been too hard. Best blow them off and head for another photo-op.