Riley Speaks

"all i have is a voice" ~ w.h. auden

Poverty in New Zealand – It exists and it’s bigger than you think (aka, screw you damien grant)

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You want to talk poverty? Don’t compare a first world country – one with numerous cities and on par to huge countries like Australia and United States of America – to a small village in the pacific nations…You don’t compare an apple to orange do you? (I bet you do – then complain that they taste different…) If both Amnesty International, AND Unicef are making reports and condemning New Zealand’s child poverty, you know it not only exists, but that it’s exceptionally bad.

Material-hardship-2016_1

Courtesy of: http://www.childpoverty.co.nz/

You say there’s no poverty in New Zealand – how can there be? We have free education, it’s the families and children that don’t care to turn up. But free as it may be, free isn’t always so. Sure, the education is free – but things add up. The price of petrol or a bus fare each day – twice a day – is something that you probably didn’t think about. And what about a child in primary school and a child in high school? More petrol, more money. The price of school supplies and even a school uniform doesn’t come free. The education is free, but what good is that education if you don’t a have a book to write it down in? Compulsory camps and excursions aren’t free either…you see, free is never truly free.

And then to further the education scheme – tertiary education. National wants to make student loans have an interest rate. If you start doing that, you will see less youth seeking out tertiary study options therefore raising the risk of unemployment sufficiently – when it’s already at an alarming high. This begins the cycle again.

You sing his praises, and maybe John Key did increased the welfare amount but that doesn’t mean it’s still a livable amount. Say living costs were at 100$ per week (I know, in what world!) and welfare was 100$ a week – that means that those on the welfare can get by, without being able to save for any future costs that may come up (a car breaking down, urgent home repairs etc), but they can survive. Then living costs increase to 200$ per week – because the economy is like that – but the government goes “Oh, if the living cost has increased, we need to increase the amount we give too!” And so welfare amount goes to 150$. It has increased, sure. But it doesn’t mean it’s livable and morally right.

“The poorest kiwi child enjoys access to an unrivaled bounty of inexpensive food” – before I even start, enjoys??? I don’t know about you but I don’t think I would enjoy being in poverty. Inexpensive food is correct, New Zealand does have some great and cheap options for food. But you see the problem with cheap food is that it’s not all that nutritionally valuable. It holds barely (if any) vitamins, minerals, or good fats. There aren’t copious amounts of protein like in your delicious quinoa you probably have twice a week there Mr Grant. This then causes children to fall sick. The Nelson Hospital Emergency Department is likely to see a child every day with a preventable condition. Why wasn’t it prevented? Because of things like diet. But it’s okay because they have meat on their bones, you can’t see their skeleton, so all must be well. At least they have access to that free healthcare right?!

Wrong. While it is free, kudos to that, it doesn’t mean it’s up to the standard it should be if we claim we truly are an amazing country. My brother was sent home numerous amounts of times when he had appendix issues because he wasn’t dying, and there weren’t enough beds. He spend years in and out of hospital because of this – and we weren’t even poor. Can you imagine how it would have been for someone who didn’t have money? You say it doesn’t matter, it’s free! But it does. If you look poor, they treat you as poor. “Oh it’s just a cold” and send you home. Low and behold we have need of a heart transplant because that cold was actually strep throat that became rheumatic fever and destroyed the child’s heart. “Oh but hospital staff wouldn’t discriminate!” But they do. They’re human. If you can tell me that poverty doesn’t exist while you sip your imported tea and a child somewhere else misses a meal, then I’m pretty sure hospital staff can discriminate.

A roof over your head doesn’t mean you are protected from the outside elements. State housing is free, cool! But is it safe? Children may have a roof over there heads, but the mould growing on those roofs and the walls they live in doesn’t do them any wonders. Respiratory issues, skin infections, and other illnesses can all be caused by an unsafe house. DR Nick Baker of Nelson Hospital told stuff this: “We have a number of babies we’ve looked after in the newborn unit, babies that have been born prematurely, and it’s really hard to send them home because there isn’t a home for them to go to.” – This was written in July, of 2017. A month ago…But it’s okay because poverty doesn’t exist.

It’s really easy for someone who hasn’t been poor to assume that these are the only issues someone faces or requires when living and being in poverty. The fact that you don’t have to think about spending additional money on petrol or buses, or on nutritional food – the fact that you think your wealth doesn’t impact your access and treatment in free settings such as hospitals is proof of your lack of understanding of what it means to be poor and to be able to afford basic necessities.

People don’t want Jacinda because shes “”dramatic and exciting”, or because she has “rock-star appeal”. People want Jacinda because she’s young, she’s not rich, and she knows how it is to be young and living in New Zealand facing the troubles we see today. You say we don’t have child poverty? I say, take a look down the streets in the neighbourhoods you’re too scared to go to. The ones you avoid because you think you’re going to have something stolen. Take a look at the mould in their homes, take a look at the children struggling to have a childhood similar to the one you had, take a look at the kids that are in poverty, and are being told it doesn’t exist.

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Author: ryebreadspeaks

20. Hopeful for a future free of war.

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