The Pacific Child Wellbeing conference was held in Auckland 30-31 March 2023. It was well attended by a vibrant collective of health and education workers, community members, NGOs, academics, practitioners, ministry personnel, grandparents and children. The conference was opened by group of 9 children of different age groups, representing different Pacific Island nations show casing the diversity of Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand. The political panellists and keynote speakers provided some direction towards addressing the impact of poverty on child wellbeing.
The Tamaiti ole Moana 2033 – is a first-time national strategic 10-year action plan that aims to address child wellbeing through equity and poverty-related issues as its core. Several key targets and recommendations that are relevant to the work carried out under this Challenge are highlighted as follows:
- Pacific children and their families will have access to the care and healthcare they need:
- A key focus on applying Pacific care models when collaborating with Pacific communities and providers.
- Devolving decision-making practices and operations to Pacific communities (from government agencies) because they are better placed to serve Pacific peoples. This builds on the Pacific providers’ learnings and outreach experiences achieved from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21.
- Addressing costs to accessing quality healthcare for Pacific children and families, which remains a major barrier and contributes to the perpetual social-health conditions/issues they face.
- Grow Pacific health, mental health and social worker workforce supported by mechanisms that assist with cost-of -living support, as well as, developing a culturally competent care workforce.
- Prevention of health conditions through healthy homes that is considerate of multigenerational homes that are bigger and multifunctional – they aim to build 5000 multigeneration homes.
- Pacific children will have access to education that sustains their cultures and languages:
- Grow a Pacific workforce that can provide for early childhood education and is inclusive of traditional Pacific values and principles that enable the retention of their culture and language.
From my perspective, this 10-year action plan primarily targets ‘housing’, because the focus is on making ‘material differences’ to the lives of Pacific children, which primarily occurs in and around their home and community, inclusive of addressing income disparity, home ownership. Additionally, the drive to enhance language and culture points to the social protective impacts that they have on the wellbeing of Pacific children and families.
Dr Tupa’ilevaililigi Riz Firestone (pictured second from left with colleagues at the conference in the above image) is a part of the A Better Start team and is the Associate Professor / Associate Dean – Pasifica Research Centre for Hauora and Health at Massey University.