Monday 7 September 2009

Policy Watch

Quote of the week: “The cost of child maltreatment is staggering, yet our willingness to live with the consequences suggests that we remain in a state of denial” (David Grimmond, Senior Economist, Infometrics)

Referendum Results

If you’re like me you’re probably heartily sick of the debate on section 59 and the referendum so I’ll keep this very short. NZCCSS signed up to the Yes Vote, and yes we are disappointed that 9 out of 10 people chose to vote no. However the question was leading and flawed. Fortunately the Referendum was non- binding and the PM has said that the current law is working well and until there is evidence to the contrary, the law will not be changed (or words to that effect). May good sense continue to prevail….Evidence that the law does not need changing is provided in the recently released Final Results of 2 year review of police activity since the enactment of the Crimes (substituted section 59) Amendment Act doc.

Maori and Pacific Island Family Violence Programmes of Action launched

On the 31st of August Hon Tariana Turia, Associate Minister of Social Development gave a speech launching E Tu Whanau-ora Progamme of Action for Addressing Family Violence 2008 – 2013 and the Programme of Action for Pacific Peoples 2008 and Beyond. The former programme was developed by the Maori Reference Group for the Taskforce for Action on Violence within Families and the latter report by the Taskforces’ Pacific Advisory Group. A brief description of each document is given in MSD’s Community Connect e-news. Electronic versions of the programmes have yet to be added to the Taskforce for Action on Violence With Families section of the MSD website.

Power Bills and debt to Power Companies

Debt from residential customers to power companies has risen significantly according to a recent article in the Dominion Post. The rapid growth in debt has been attributed to the rising price of power, the impact of the recession on family finances and the reluctance of power companies to disconnect customers after the “public relations nightmare Mercury Energy faced after Folole Muliaga’s death in 2007”. Whilst some customers may be exploiting this reluctance [to disconnect], for many, I am sure, it’s an issue of affordability. See Age Concerns’ article below.

Older People hidden victims of power price rises - Age Concern

Age Concern is highlighting the harm to older people from high power prices. In a media release, Age Concern’s National President is calling for ‘action on power affordability’. Residential power prices have increase 5% per annum in real terms – an overall increase of two-thirds since 2000.

Insight on Radio NZ: How the recession is affecting the not-for-profit sector

Check out the recent Radio NZ podcast on how the recession is affecting many community based organisations. Complete with commentary from the Minister towards the end.

Fresh Start and Break Away programmes

The Prime Minister recently released details re funding for Fresh Start and Break-Away programmes
The programmes comprise of:
• the Government's Fresh Start for Young Offenders reforms, which will increase and improve the options for: holding serious and persistent youth offenders accountable, addressing the causes of offending, and preventing reoffending.
• new Break-Away initiatives that will increase and improve the range of school holiday and youth development opportunities
Support for increased funding for holiday programmes has been expressed by the YMCA. The Foundation for Youth Development commends the government for both initiatives whilst NZAAHD cautions the government to better engage with the sector. Also check out the discussion by RECAP on Fresh Start and the Break Away programmes.
More information can be found on the MSD website.


New OECD report – Doing Better for Children

One of the key findings from a recently released OECD report (involving 30 countries) was that NZ spends considerably less on child welfare, particularly for younger disadvantaged children, compared with other member countries. According to the NZ country highlights page “material conditions for Kiwi kids are relatively poor”. We also fare poorly on a number of health indicators such as youth suicide, immunisation rates and child mortality. On a more positive note Kiwi kids have high rates of educational achievement. NZ is urged to invest more on younger disadvantaged children. The General Secretary of the UN acknowledges that public budgets are under pressure given the recession but warns “any short term savings on spending on children’s education and health would have major long term costs for society”. Details from the report are discussed by Child Poverty Action Group and the University of Canterbury. Also check out the Radio NZ podcast.

High cost of child abuse and neglect – report findings

Every Child Counts, a coalition of NGOs, commissioned Infometrics to do an economic analysis of the cost of child abuse – both obvious and hidden costs. It was found that
Battered children cost NZ $2b annually. Every Child Counts will use the report to lobby MPs to establish an all party parliamentary group for children. Findings from the report are outlined by David Grimmond, Senior Economist Infometrics on the Yes Vote website.

Family Violence Statistic Report

The Families Commission recently released this comprehensive statistical report on family violence report on their website. It aims to “improve accessibility and availability of existing family violence data…from a variety of government and non government agencies”. It also includes findings from the NZ Crime and Safety Survey. Note its 292 pages long and hard copies are not available.

EWAS Enhancing Well Being in an Ageing Society – new research released

EWAS is a multi-year research programme being carried out in Aotearoa New Zealand by The Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit and the University of Waikato Population Studies Centre. The aim of the research is to “provide the understanding that is essential for policy formation and the delivery of services for enhancing the wellbeing in an ageing NZ society”. The research involved two large scale surveys of independent and semi independent NZders aged 40-64 years and 65 to 84 years. Results from the first survey of the older age group have been released. (Again, note before you hit print that it’s 234 pages long). There’s is an executive summary on page 207 (chapter 14). The survey found that most respondents (88%) were satisfied or very satisfied with their lives. However the report cautions that wellbeing is closely linked with home ownership and superannuation. Charles Waldegrave, co author of the report warns, in a media release entitled Boomers ‘may end of in poverty’, that “with home ownership rates dropping, and uncertainty about the affordability of NZ Super, providing for a growing elderly population is one the country’s most pressing issues”.

FORUM with Dr. Ron Colman

How to avoid the next crisis with a NZ (GPI) Genuine Progress Indicator in “What Matters Most to New Zealanders” programme. Dr. Ron Colman, an international authority on the GPI here in New Zealand Auckland 25th Sept. and Wellington 28th Sept evenings
Shows how the GPI can be an
• Early warning system
• Accurate analysis of causes
• Source of creative solutions
For more information see Anew NZ website –

Child Poverty Hui

And don’t forget CPAGs Na Ta Tatou Rourou hui “to build activism to end child poverty in NZ, Manurewa marae, 7-8 October.

NZCCSS Vulnerability Report

The next Vulnerability Report is due out in mid September. It focuses on the issues and trends experienced by vulnerable families for the period April to July 2009 using official data from the government supplemented with statistics and commentary from social service providers. Rapidly increasing numbers of beneficiaries (unemployment beneficiary numbers trebled between June 2008 and June 2009), rises in child poverty, and surges in demand for emergency accommodation and food form part of a rather gloomy picture. Whilst there are early signs that the economy may be on the mend (green-shoots as they are sometimes described), it is likely that the social impacts of recession will be long felt. We hope these report will help to keep issues of poverty and vulnerability on the agenda.

Vulnerability Reports (and the supplementary Background information Sheets) can be downloaded from our website

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