Morning Briefing May 10: Shining a light on NZ's invisible army

An international expert says NZ should be ashamed of its "young carers" record, the travel bubble with NSW reopens, and the Government moves to address a gender health gap. 

Source: 1 NEWS

Chances are many Kiwis won’t have heard the term “young carers” before, but it’s one that applies to tens of thousands of young New Zealanders who provide a significant level of care for family members every day.

TVNZ’s Sunday took an in-depth look at this invisible army of young carers last night and found out how vital it is they’re supported. 

A leading international expert says New Zealand should be ashamed of its poor record in identifying and helping young carers.

Dr Saul Becker from the University of Sussex estimates eight per cent of Kiwis under the age of 18 are carers.

He says leaving young children to provide significant care unsupported can lead to them suffering mental health issues later in life and he’s urging the Government to act on the issue. 

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Tackling a gender health gap

New testing systems for breast and cervical cancers will be rolled out by 2023 after the Government announced more than $100 million in funding to target both illnesses yesterday.

More than $50 million is being invested in implementing a new simple swab test for detecting cervical cancer, in the hopes of reducing the barriers women face to getting screened.

The Government is also investing $55 million in upgrading the current breast cancer screening system.

The issue of persistent inequalities around cervical cancer has again come to the fore in recent weeks after Labour MP Kiri Allan revealed her own cancer diagnosis. She told The Hui last week her chance of surviving stage three cervical cancer is just 13 per cent, given the current disparity in survival rates for wāhine Māori.

Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall says due to “the time, cost and whakamā associated with taking [a] smear test”, investing in the new option to self-test will make a “real difference”.

While yesterday’s announcement has been welcomed, it’s also left some wondering about the Government’s commitment to other prevalent and difficult to diagnose cancers, like ovarian cancer.

TVNZ’s Breakfast is speaking to Cure our Ovarian Cancer founder Jane Ludemann around 7.20am today to discuss what more the Government can do.

It comes as she joins other Kiwi women in an international campaign featuring on London’s most famous billboard to draw attention to ovarian cancer. 

Bubble inflates once again

Quarantine-free travel from New South Wales has resumed this morning after the state recorded no new cases of Covid-19 yesterday.

New Zealand officials suspended travel late last week after two new community cases were discovered in Sydney.

Restrictions in New South Wales will remain for another week, given the link between the cases and a managed isolation facility is yet to be identified.  

Meanwhile, New Zealand cricketers have arrived back in the country and are now in quarantine after being evacuated from India on two charter flights organised and funded by the BCCI and some IPL franchises.

But while Australia is beginning repatriation flights for some of its citizens, Kiwis stuck in India still have few options.

It comes as epidemiologist Tony Blakely told TVNZ’s Q+A New Zealand shouldn’t follow suit, as repatriation flights could see a "devastating" community outbreak here.

'Separatist' strategy questioned

National’s opposition to policies which promote equity with Māori and characterising them as “separatist” are unlikely to gain them as much traction as they have in the past, a right-leaning political commentator warns.

Liam Hehir told Q+A yesterday the country has moved on from then-National leader Don Brash’s infamous speech at Ōrewa in 2004, and National needs to do so, too.

That discussion came as National claimed to have a document showing secret plans for a major shake-up to Department of Conservation land.

The document outlines draft recommendations, including replacing the Conservation Act with a system that better honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Doping incidents rock industry

An expert in animal welfare law says the Ministry for Primary Industries isn’t doing its job properly after failing to lay charges over two recent cases of doping in the racing industry.

University of Otago law lecturer Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere says MPI is ill-resourced and not able to enforce the law in every given circumstance, which is “simply not good enough”. 

MPI told 1 NEWS it takes animal welfare “very seriously”, but other organisations are now calling for a current review of the racing industry to be widened. 

Other news of note this morning:

- Funerals have begun for some of the schoolgirls killed in an Afghanistan blast over the weekend, while searches continue for those still missing.

- Māori are being encouraged to karawhiua, or "give it heaps", in a push to encourage strong uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine, while the Maritime Union says port workers should be given subsidised breaks to ensure they get their jab. 

- New Zealand and France say they will jointly convene the second Christchurch Call Leaders' Summit later this month, as the US confirms it’s formally joining the initiative.

- A new report shows New Zealand teenagers are among the world's biggest internet users.

- Auckland Action Against Poverty says the Government is hypocritical for releasing details of its fair pay policy after freezing public sector wages last week.

- The principal of a Lower Hutt school that’s had to close classrooms because of toxic mould says some teachers have suffered respiratory illnesses and other problems.

- You can stop keeping a nervous eye skywards - China's space agency has confirmed debris from its Long March 5B Yao-2 rocket has crash landed in the Indian Ocean.

- And an artwork by one of New Zealand's most recognised master painters is about to go under the hammer - but not in the way you might think.

And finally...

The family heirloom TVNZ Good Sort Luke McEwan found up a mountain. Source: 1 NEWS

I know, I know, some of you are probably sick to the back teeth of tales about rings filmed in the South Island, but Lord of the Rings this is not.

Instead, it’s 1 NEWS’ latest Good Sort, Luke McEwan - a Queenstown helicopter pilot who made a promise to a couple that lost a great-great-grandmother’s ring during their wedding up a mountain last year.

McEwan told the heartbroken newlyweds he’d return to the area when it wasn’t covered in knee-deep snow and look for their family heirloom.

And months later, he didn’t so much as move mountains as climb one in order to keep that promise...