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Nurses - Just one of the missing elements in the White Paper

11 October 2012: The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) believes the Government’s White Paper for Vulnerable Children is a good start but has serious concerns regarding its focus on the ‘problem’ and not on its prevention.

NZNO is concerned that there is little mention of the role of nurses in the prevention, identification and interventions suggested for vulnerable children. Evidence suggests nurse intervention is one of the most successful elements of any programme to address the needs of vulnerable children and how nurses will be effectively utilised is glaringly absent from the White Paper. Who better than a nurse to assist in the nurturing of physically, mentally, and developmentally healthy and successful children?

NZNO nursing researcher and policy adviser, Dr Jill Clendon says, “It is deeply concerning that nurses are not listed in the examples of members of the core or wider workforce who work with children. This is a serious omission and undermines the work that the nursing profession, particularly child health nurses and nurses in primary health care such as Plunket and Tamariki Ora nurses are doing on a daily basis.”

“Assessment and co-ordination are core skills of frontline health professionals such as nurses. The Family Nurse Partnership programme is identified as one of the most effective child abuse and maltreatment prevention programmes worldwide, but there is no mention of how this may be utilised in New Zealand.”

“The White Paper mentions child poverty as a contributor to child vulnerability but it ‘passes the buck’ when it comes to addressing this issue. Addressing child poverty should be a priority element of any plan to support vulnerable children and it is deeply concerning that the White Paper does not make a stronger statement in this regard. Preventing child poverty will also reduce child vulnerability,” Dr Clendon says.

“It is disappointing that the White Paper fails to address the wider issue of poverty and does little to prevent the future vulnerability of generations to come. It is disappointing that once again nurses are rendered invisible for the work they do.”

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