Story: Health advocacy and self-help

Page 5. Child health organisations

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Plunket, which was founded in 1907, is the best-known child health organisation in New Zealand. It provides free health services for children from birth to five years and also engages in advocacy work, such as lobbying the government on wider issues which affect children. In the early 21st century Plunket supported the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961, which meant that parents could no longer use the defence of ‘reasonable force’ with respect to child discipline cases brought to the court. They also lobbied for a total ban on cigarette and tobacco advertising.

Paediatric Society of New Zealand

The Paediatric Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) is an organisation for medical professionals working in child health. It was founded in 1946, and some of its aims were to promote the health and welfare of New Zealand children and advocate for them on all issues relevant to their health. In the 21st century PSNZ made submissions to the government on topics such as access to medicines, childhood obesity and child discipline.

Child Cancer Foundation

The Child Cancer Foundation (CCF) is a high-profile child-health organisation which was started in Auckland in 1978 by a group of parents and health professionals. CCF is primarily a support organisation for children with cancer and their families. Paid coordinators provide one-on-one support services and also facilitated group meetings for the families.

Heart Kids New Zealand

Heart Kids New Zealand provides support for children with heart problems and their families. In 1983 two Auckland women, Linda Davies and Michelle Mann, published a book called Heart children after their newborn babies died from heart problems. They supported other families going through the same experience and a network of support groups was established. In 2015 the name of the organisation was changed from Heart Children to Heart Kids New Zealand. It is based in Auckland with regional branches throughout New Zealand providing peer-to-peer support.

Neonatal Trust

The Neonatal Trust was established in 1986 by two Wellington families who had premature babies. It became a nation-wide organisation in 2008 which supports families with babies in neonatal intensive care units in the main centres and special care baby units in provincial centres. It relies heavily on volunteers who have had the experience of using neonatal units who provide support for new parents. It offers practical support to neonatal units and also raises funds for neonatal medical research.

Child Poverty Action Group

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is an advocacy organisation which aims to eliminate child poverty in New Zealand by 2020. Child health is a major focus of its work. According to the Child Poverty Action Group, 10% of children who attend low-decile schools – those in lower socio-economic areas of New Zealand – are regularly hungry. Hunger in childhood has been linked to problems with food and weight in later life. CPAG has lobbied for the provision of free breakfast and lunch programmes for schools in lower socio-economic areas, and for free health care for all children aged 18 and under.

How to cite this page:

Rosemary Du Plessis and Anne Scott, 'Health advocacy and self-help - Child health organisations', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 20 April 2024)

Story by Rosemary Du Plessis and Anne Scott, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 17 Jul 2018