by ROWENA OREJANA
AUCKLAND — Adult poverty needs to be addressed if child poverty is to be eradicated.
Former Minister and Auckland Action Against Poverty spokeswoman Sue Bradford said everyone talks about child poverty, but it is the adults who need decent work to support their
Dr Bradford told participants of Advocacy in Aotearoa, a networking and training event held by Edmund Rice Centre NZ on July 15, that advocating for people who are marginalised is
“No matter what religion or political background you are from, this is something that we hold in common: that everyone in Aotearoa deserves a chance in a full and best life,” she said.
Dr Bradford said she was contacted in 2010 by a group of people from churches and communities urging her to form an advocacy group for unemployment beneficiaries.
“These church and community people were very upfront and said ‘we cannot do this ourselves, even though we know the work needs doing, because our organisation can get contaminated,
our funding could get cut’,” she said.
This was why they set up Auckland Action Against Poverty. “We need to respect the work
of the parents who are caring for the aged, disabled and sick in their homes. We are not living in a society that cares for those families. And that’s the society I want to live
in,” she said.
Dr Bradford said she knows not everyone is willing to take the upfront, hard-out actions that they sometimes take.
“It’s a very grim situation. If no one takes that kind of very upfront action, it is not made visible at all. It is about making it visible enough, that some of us do care and we will get in your face,” she said.
Damaris Kingdon, national coordinator of Edmund Rice Centre, said they usually run conferences on social justice issues. But this year, she said, she had only one project in mind.
“I think there is this energy. I think there is a bigger movement going on. I kind of see activists and advocates like the immune system of society.
“We recognise when something is not right and we rise up and we work to adapt and we work against it to bring a balance to the body. It’s about health,” she said.
Dr Bradford said advocacy and activism, whether inside the church or from the radical end, is needed everywhere.
“All of these are a vital part of democracy. It’s what makes democracy work,” she said.
by ROWENA OREJANA