Thursday 1 September 2011

Policy Watch

The test of any social contract is the plight of the poorest, so we judge social policy not by its cost but by its impact on the poor, needy and marginalised

Sir Paul Reeves - Commemoration of the Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi Okains Bay, Feb 1988

Politicians prioritising the 0-17s

The NZ Children’s Social Health Monitor update has been released and the politicians have said their piece.  Here are their words as paraphrased in our notes at a recent forum; (we hope they are a fair representation).

Bill English (National): ‘Bad economic times are worst for the most vulnerable, so we have to do our best to keep a stable economy.’ ‘Priorities are the reduction of child abuse (Green Paper), community responsibility around child abuse, and focusing on the 5,000 children in government’s care.'

Annette King (Labour): ‘Need universal approach for all children as a basis, cross party agreement and a senior Minister for children.’ Suggests child health impact assessment for all new policies.

Metiria Turei (Greens): 'Plan to bring 100,000 children out of poverty by 2014, extend Working for Families for all low income families, reinstate and extend the Training Incentive Allowance, (to provide better support for sole parents and beneficiaries to study at university), and, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour immediately.’

Rahui Katene (Māori): Relationships are key- whānau need to make their own decisions. Focus on projects to reduce rheumatic fever and improve sexual health; extension of the in-work tax credit for children of beneficiaries; removal of GST from food; eliminate child poverty by 2020; greater emphasis on primary care; and commit to cultural competency in schools

Peter Dunne (United Future): Wants ‘collaborative solutions, an annual state of the family report with Government’s policies on the Economy, Carers and Parents, Health, and Education rated according to family friendliness.’ Also wants a ‘network of one stop shop family services centres, respite care for carers, access to parenting classes, extension of parental leave, and better access to early childhood education.’

Reduce Income Inequality Now! – NZ Medical Association

Last year 5,000 more children were admitted to hospital with acute or respiratory illness than in 2007. The Medical Association is calling for income inequality to be reduced by raising incomes of those most disadvantaged. They argue this will have a “dramatic impact on improving population health, as will a whole of government, whole of society approach in working collaboratively to make sure policies across many sectors are aligned to improve health outcomes for our children.” In case we don’t get the message, the Medical Association go on to say “if we don’t address the health of our most vulnerable groups in childhood, we will have rising rates of illness throughout our society and the costs of healthcare will be higher than ever before.”

It’s not surprising the medical association is worried about costs of ill health. The annual cost of child poverty is around $8 billion according to John Pearce’s report for Analytica. The total cost of child ill-health from poverty is between $1.1 billion- $2.4 billion or 0.6% to 1.4% of GDP.

Want to help reduce income inequality right now? Go to and follow the instructions.

Alcohol – Mmmmm, could do better on this one

The Alcohol Reform Bill has been reported back to Parliament from the Justice and Electoral select committee, What's in the Bill: Restrictions on supermarket alcohol advertising to a single non-prominent area; an extra $10 million per year for treating alcohol related harm; a plan to set up an expert panel to look at research and international developments around alcohol advertising; greater abilities for communities to control how alcohol is managed in their area; requiring those who sell alcohol to provide price and sales data to inform Government’s consideration of  alcohol pricing; Explicitly prohibiting convenience stores from selling alcohol more

What’s not in it: The Bill still permits: alcohol advertising and sponsorship; ultra-cheap alcohol sales, the current alcohol driving limit; and alcohol sales in supermarkets. Doug Sellman from Alcohol Action New Zealand calls the Bill ‘shamefully weak’ and says ‘it abandons alcohol control to local communities’.

Child Support Law Changes

Peter Dunne has announced changes to the way we calculate child support in Aotearoa New Zealand. The idea is support will reflect “the actual cost of raising children today, the degree of shared care between parents, and the income of both parents.”
Changes include: “The number of nights a year used to determine shared care being reduced from 40 percent to 28 percent of nights; having child support payments deducted directly from the paying parent’s pay-packet; and changing the penalty rules for parents defaulting on their payments so they are not so punitive as to discourage parents from resuming payments more. FARE spokesperson Bruce Tichbon, says people will find ways of stopping IRD from making the direct deductions  and MENZ union of fathers is concerned Peter Dunne is “enshrining double taxation for separated parents.”

Housing Design and People’s Wellbeing

VicHealth (Melbourne) has put together some work on what can help us live better via better housing. The list includes: ‘address the overall lack of adequate supply of affordable housing; reduce homelessness through an effective support system and increased housing options; improve ‘housing hardware’ – for example, standards to ensure adequate insulation and draught prevention in low-cost private rental housing; family support programs to ensure that family heads are able to adequately control their housing space and visitors receive support to access alternative housing options’ More.

Growth of One-Stop Shops

Peter Dunne mentioned it in at a recent Hui on child wellbeing; Annette King suggested schools could be used as hubs. Meantime it’s happening in Christchurch out of necessity and in Auckland becasue it has been deliberately created. The one- stop-social –service- shop. Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust is providing a whānau house in Henderson. Families can access more than 70 services at the centre including primary health care in the GP clinic, dental and pharmacy and well as a range of ‘secondary services’ offered by the Waitemata District Health Board.  More.

Want to be an expert on responding to the Green Paper?

A reading list – just for you. Test next Policy Watch.

Asher, I. (2011, June 27). Letter to Members of Ministerial Group on Welfare Reforms. Auckland.

Council of Australian Governments. (2009). National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Eckersley R et al. (2006). Flashpoints and signposts:pathways for success and wellbeing for Australia's young people. Melbourne: VicHealth.

Infometrics. (2011). 1000 days to get it right for every child: the effectivenees of public investment in New Zealand children. Wellington: Every Child Counts.

Marmot, M. (2010). Fair society healthy lives:Strategic review of health inequalities in England post 2010 (Marmot Review). Department of Health, U.K.

New Zealand Government. (2011). Every child thrives, belongs, achieves: the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children. Wellington: New Zealand Government.

New Zealand Medical Association. (2011). Health Equity Position Statement.

Perry, B. (2011). Household incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2010. Wellington: Ministry of Social Development.

Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor. (2011). Improving the transition: reducing the social and psychological morbidity during adolescence. Wellington: Office of the Prime Minister's Science Advisory Committee (Gluckman report).

Public Health Advisory Committee. (2010). The best start in life: achieving effective action on child health and wellbeing. Wellington: Minstry of Health.

Scottish Government. (2008). The Early Years Framework. Edinburgh.

The widening pay gap the "moral question of our time"

Helen Kelly CTU President has referred to the pay gap as the moral issue of our time. Some CEOs are paid up 50 times as much as their average employees. Last year, the average CEO’s pay was around 18 times of the average worker; nine years ago the rate was 15.2 times. Telecom is about starting to look for a new CEO. Policy Watchers who might want to apply can consider if a package of around $4.7 million is enough for them.

In Brief

How to deal with the employment problem – an in-depth article by Keith Rankin .

The compulsory kiwisaver debate – economic strength or disincentive for people to take responsibility

Other notices

Support Turakina Māori Girls College (abridged)

Kia ora koutou katoa

As Moderator of Te Aka Puaho I send this email to you in regards to Turakina Maori Girls College. For over 100 years Te Aka Puaho has supported TMGC as this is our only Boarding school. … Recruitment of students is always an important matter, may I ask all Ministers, … to constantly promote Turakina Maori Girls College as a viable option for educating and developing the potential of our young Maori girls.

I would like to ask all our Ministers, Elders, Leaders and Parishes if it is possible to have … Sunday25th of September every year be set aside in our church calendar as Turakina Maori Girls College Day. … To those outside of Te Aka Puaho, perhaps you may like to join us on this Sunday and simple make mention of TMGC in your service with a prayer for our school and maybe a special donation to the school … Finally. as Moderator I would like to ask that you circulate this email to all church members, friends and contacts that you may have in church, community and work as a way of promoting our school, Turakina Maori Girls College.

Arohanui, Rev Wayne Te Kaawa, Moderator of Te Aka Puaho, the Maori Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.

What’s on

Random acts of kindness day TODAY
Debate: Full employment: did it work, will it work Wednesday 14 September, St Johns in the City, Wellington, 7pm


Thriving - A resource was produced in collaboration with Auckland Women’s Centre, THRIVE Teen Parent Support Trust, Te Waipuna Puawai, Anglican Trust for Women and Children, Know Your Neighbours, Lifewise, and Takapuna Methodist Church 2011.It comprises an ‘action inquiry,’ to learn more about a family whānau centred approach.
WHĀNAU ORA: Sharing the Learning 2011 Mason Durie

Last Word

You can have laws and a government but that is no guarantee you have a nation.. Nations grow slowly. In every age they struggle with inequalities of wealth, the mal-distribution of power, the frustration of those who want to get on. Te Tiriti o Waitangi has given us a framework for this nation, a framework in which two cultures struggle to grow and developSir Paul Reeves

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