Sweeping reforms urged to tackle child abuse

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 08:38 26/11/2013

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Health Minister Tony Ryall said the Government is considering proposals made in a report that calls for sweeping reforms to reduce the high rates of child abuse.

But he was at pains to point out the Government was already working on some measures.

His response comes after a report from Parliament's Health Committee received cross-party support for nearly 130 recommendations to improve child health and prevent child abuse.

Broadly, it called on the Government to focus more funding on child health in the first three years, and before conception.

It called for a national health target that would see 90 per cent of women registered with a maternity care provider by the time they were 10 weeks pregnant, an overhaul of sexual health services and education provided in schools, and a Government-funded oral health campaign.

Veteran Labour Party health spokeswoman Annette King said it was the best select committee report she had been involved in since she entered Parliament more than 20 years ago.

Paul Hutchison, National MP for Hunua and chairman of the committee, said he wanted to see "leadership from the top" from those who had control of the $14.7 billion health budget.

Ryall said the Government was looking at all aspects of the report.

"The Government will consider the recommendations in the Select Committee report and table our response in due course.

"We note we are already doing a significant amount of work on a number of the recommendations."

The Government had already made moves on some measures from a report last year looking into ways to lift children out of poverty.

The report from a group put together by Children's Commissioner Russell Wills pointed out New Zealand still had no national strategy to deal with child poverty.

The latest report called for the Government to give further consideration the recommendations laid out in Wills' report.

The Government has so far taken action on 23 of those measures, including providing $9.5 million over five years to expand the Food in Schools programme but others have been ruled out as to expensive.

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