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House of Representatives
1 March 2012
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Health Committee
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Media release - Health Committee

Inquiry into preventing child abuse and improving children’s health outcomes

The Health Committee has initiated an inquiry into preventing child abuse and improving children’s health outcomes.

The purpose of the inquiry is to find what practical health and social interventions can be made from preconception until 3 years of age to prevent child abuse and promote child well-being in New Zealand.

“The evidence from medicine, science, justice, sociology, psychology and economics is overwhelming: the first few years of life from ‘preconception’ on are fundamentally important to a broad range of children’s health outcomes, and to the subsequent achievements of those children as adolescents and adults, and that the greatest gains and cost savings will come from effective evidence-based early intervention,” committee chairperson Dr Hutchison says.

“Many of New Zealand’s services are ‘reactive’ to abuse, or poor treatment of a child, that has already happened,” Dr Hutchison says.

The terms of reference (relate particularly to the prevention of child abuse, but are inclusive of interventions that will promote best outcomes (behavioural, health, cognitive) for all children.

The terms of reference for this inquiry are as follows:

  1. To update knowledge of what factors influence best childhood outcomes from before conception to 3 years, and what are significant barriers.
  2. What practical improvements can be made to health, education, social and other services, targeted at the preconceptional period that will improve infant and child outcomes (including the maintenance of a healthy body weight).
  3. What practical improvements can be made to antenatal maternity services so that children ‘at risk’ of adverse health outcomes are identified early, monitored appropriately, and followed through to achieve best outcomes.
  4. What practical improvements can be made to post-natal services (including the interface between lead maternity caregiver, Plunket and primary care) to ensure best outcomes for children.
  5. What, if any improvements can be made to the ‘well child’ services (especially hard to reach children).
  6. What practical improvements or interventions can be made to achieve optimal outcomes for children from the 6 week post-natal periods to 3 years of life, with particular reference to health services but not excluding education, social, housing, justice and other determinants of health?

The committee is inviting public submissions on this inquiry. The closing date for submissions is Thursday, 5 April 2012.

For more information contact:

Dr Paul Hutchison


(04) 817 9197 or 021436389