Wednesday 1 October 2008

Policy Watch

STOP THE PRESS: NZCCSS continues its social justice information programme this week with a call for more action on the REAL Housing Affordability problem - the poster seen at right is being distributed nationwide with other information throughout the next week.


The NZ draft report on UNCROC is available for comment (closing 17th October 2008). ACYA 
has prepared a working paper reviewing the Convention and this is a good background paper to read if you are wanting to make comment on the government draft.

MSD have recently updated the Children and Young People: Indicators of Wellbeing in NZ report. The last report was published in 2004. Highlights from the report include:

  • infant mortality has more than halved
  • the child assault rate has reduced
  • participation in early childhood education has increased
  • the proportion of children in low income households has more than halved
Improvement are still needed in the areas of infant mortality, immunisation, dental care, suicide and road deaths. The data from this report will be used in the Government's report to the UN regarding our progress and compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In addition the
Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee's fourth report to the Minister of Health has been released. According to a recent press release the report aims to "give a fuller picture of child and youth mortality in NZ and help us to understand the compex issues relating to these deaths". The committee, established in 2002, uses the data to look at ways to prevent mortality -rates of which have been declining over the last 20 years the report finds.


A new report titled  The Unravelling of the Welfare Safety Net finds that both National and Labour administrations over the past two decades have been steadily unravelling our social welfare “safety net” and moving its basis from the meeting of basic need to the narrow focus of pushing people into work. The report backgrounds changes to New Zealand’s social welfare benefit system since the benefit cuts of 1991. It was prepared by the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation of New Zealand, for Catholic social justice agency Caritas, to provide historical background on proposals for a “single core benefit".

New results have been released regarding the University of Otago's Housing Heating and Healthy study that prove that better home heating improves childhood asthma and other health problems associated with damp and cold houses. Findings such as these help to confirm the importance of greater investment in sustainable heating and home insulation.

The Green Party released its transport policy last week and it was interesting to note their commitment to making public transport affordable. They are proposing cheaper day, week and month passes and a 50 percent discount for children, students and beneficiaries. Off peak travel at $1 for everyone is also being proposed.

Age concern welcomed in a recent press release "the extra protection which will be built into Enduring Powers of Attorney when the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Amendment Act 2007" that came into effect on the 26th September. A new requirement for independent legal advice gives protection for people setting up EPAs. This will make it harder to bulldoze reluctant or confused people into signing.

Parliament’s Health Select Committee has issued its report on the petition sponsored by NZNO & SFWU requesting that the House ensure adequate funding in Budget 2007 for fair pay for the aged care workforce, adequate staffing levels in aged care facilities and funding for access to appropriate training for all aged care workers. The Select Committee has recommended ring fencing some funding for the aged care workforce, the goal of pay parity between DHB staff and the rest of aged care workforce, a working party for aged residential care be established and funding be linked to training of the workforce. Recommendations were also made about surprise audits of aged care facilities and establishing a register of care workers who have committed elder abuse. Read the National Business review article  and the full report is online at theParliament website


Last week I had a visit from Rebecca Blaikie from the Office of the Children's Commissioner to discuss resources available from OCC for parents and those who work with children, young people and families. Many of you will probably be already aware of these, but just in case you aren't, you can order free copies of their Hey We Don't Hit Anyone Here children's story book (also available in Te Reo and Samoan), Children are Unbeatable: 7 good reasons not to hit children booklet, and brightly coloured No Hitting Place posters. I'd also recommend the parent information booklet Choose a Hug which gives a range of practical ideas on how to cope with the challenging behaviour kids can present us with!

Bishop Richard Randerson has recently given a sermon at the Wellington Cathedral marking the 10th anniversay of the hikoi of hope and asking people to think about what we can learn from the global financial crisis and using these principles to guide our voting choices. For example we must ask ourselves - What's happening to the poorest? Follow the link for the full text of the sermon.


The UN World Habitat Housing Forum is coming up in Auckland on Monday 6th October at 1pm at the Limelight theatre Aotea Centre Auckland. With the theme of Affordable and Healthy Housing for All and with the CEO of Habitat for Humanity International Jonathan Reckford as guest speaker it should be of great interest to members. After the opening address by Jonathan four speakers will make presentations including our own Campbell Roberts. A political panel discussion will include party spokespeople for housing from the Greens (Sue Bradford), National (Phil Heatley), Labour (Phil Twyford) and a Maori Party representative.

The Auckland Office of the Children's Commissioner and Presbyterian Support Northern will be running a child abuse seminar Weaving Together the Way Forward on 19 November at the Jubilee Hall in Parnell Auckland from 9am to midday. Presenters include Jude Simpson (PSN FV prevention advocate) and David Kenkel from OCC. I've heard Jude speak before and have read her book Lost and Found. She is a very compelling speaker, as is David who spoke at the PSN Conference earlier this year. The Weaving Together seminar is free but numbers are limited so rsvp by Wednesday 5th November

And last but not least - GIVE IT UP

This year the government announced tax cuts for the first time in years. They will start to come into effect October 1st. But what will we do with that extra money in our bank account? The $12 to $28 a week individuals will save on their tax bill is not a lot of money, but it can make a real difference. The Anglican Commission for Social Justice is promoting a GIVE IT UP message regarding tax cuts. The supporters group for this initiative is also citing international research that goes a long way to proving that higher-tax societies have fewer social problems. Their key reference is the 2006 Canadian report"The Social Benefits and Economic Costs of Taxation: A comparison of High- and Low- Tax Countries". This report was published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and can be found at

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