UNICEF Aotearoa response to Budget 2023: Support for today, building for tomorrow.
UNICEF Aotearoa response to Budget 2023
As advocates for the rights of every child, UNICEF Aotearoa is heartened to see children feature prominently in Budget 2023.
UNICEF Aotearoa views the Government’s investment in early childhood education, healthy school lunches, and transport subsidies as a positive step in transforming the livelihoods of whānau and the health and wellbeing of our tamariki.
Michelle Sharp, UNICEF Aotearoa CEO, stated “It is encouraging that this year’s budget continues to deliver more for children and families of Aotearoa. Supporting whānau to get access to early childhood education improves our children’s futures and relieves pressure on families who are experiencing hardship due to the cost-of-living crisis.”
Sharp is also pleased to see the extension of the Ka Ora, Ka Ako healthy school lunches programme. “Ensuring our tamariki have access to nutritious food is crucial for their day-to-day learning, health, and development. This initiative also continues to alleviate some of the cost-of-living stresses for whānau by reducing food insecurity by providing healthy school lunches.”
Similarly, the increase in funding for Whānau Ora, including Ngā Tini Whetū that includes targeted support for the wellbeing of wāhine hapū, their whānau, and pēpi in their first 1000 days, is well-aligned with the global UNICEF Early Moments Matter campaign. Sharp said, “This funding acknowledges the importance of investing in Māori approaches to improve outcomes for our tamariki.”
Overall, Sharp commented that it is positive to see eight out of nine measures in the Child Poverty Report have improved since the baseline 2018 year. But said, “There is still much more to be done.
“With significant gaps still existing for Māori, Pasifika, and children impacted by disability, UNICEF Aotearoa reiterates the need to ensure priority populations continue to be a focus for child poverty reduction.
"While we are reassured to see investment towards building more public housing, the two-year commitment of $176 million to use motels as transitional housing for the chronically homeless is a concern, particularly when these are often unsafe environments for children and young people to be in," Sharp commented.
Among the commitments for cyclone recovery, UNICEF Aotearoa welcomes funding for community-based mental health and wellbeing initiatives in areas affected by the North Island weather events. This includes the expansion of the Mana Ake programme into Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti, together with a dedicated Hauora Māori Disaster Response Package for Māori wellbeing services. “At UNICEF Aotearoa we understand that mental health and psychosocial support need to be a priority for children and young people impacted by these emergencies,” said Sharp.
UNICEF Aotearoa is pleased to see that some climate initiatives will also have immediate benefits for children, young people, and their whānau. This includes the expansion of the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme, reducing energy usage and promoting whānau health; and the free or half-price public transport for children and young people, which will help reduce carbon emissions while making public transport more accessible.
The climate crisis is a child rights crisis and strong climate action is essential to protect children’s futures. While Budget 2023 invests strongly in infrastructure, innovation, and financing to address the climate crisis, UNICEF Aotearoa stresses the need for children and young people’s voices to be included in decisions that will impact their futures.
Sharp said, “Our responsibility under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is to ensure the voices of our tamariki and rangatahi are heard, and UNICEF Aotearoa expects that future budgets will make this a priority."
About UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand
The New Zealand National Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand) is an independent charitable trust registered in New Zealand that raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work around the world and advocates for the rights of children in Aotearoa and around the world. UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand is one of 33 National Committees who as national charitable organizations support UNICEF’s mission in their countries. For more information about UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.nz