Monday 20 February 2012

Policy Watch

‘We have two clear choices here: one is to continue the path we have been on … for the past three decades, concentrating wealth and influence, and driving the marginalised further into the shadows with yet restrictive welfare entitlements and a yet more punitive criminal justice system. The other is to act more inclusively and to work consciously and deliberately at ways of ensuring … the most marginalised New Zealanders, and in particular, many poor families and unemployed young people, feel as though they are valued and valuable members of our society.’

Government Planning Changes in Social Services

With the National Party leading Government for its second term it is obvious that major changes in community based social services and how they are funded will be occurring. Welfare Reforms are anticipated; trials on new ways of contracting services are being conducted; the work of the Community Response Forums continues to increase and the Government’s expectations of achieving results from their investments in social services are rising.

With multiple changes likely to accelerate over the next three years it’s time to Review, Rethink, Respond and Renew. Join us on the 18 & 19 April at the inaugural NZCCSS Future Wellbeing Conference and focus on Social Services for New Zealand’s Future.

The importance of Auckland is growing – it just reached a population of 1.5 million! In response to the opportunity to contribute to the development of Auckland, NZCCSS is hosting the Auckland Futures Mini Conference on April 20, immediately after the Future Wellbeing Conference. This is your chance to be involved in Co-creating Auckland’s Social Futures!

The great contradictory child-wellbeing-mix-up

OK OK OK. Hands up everyone struggling to write a submission on the Green Paper for vulnerable children. Yes? It’s not surprising really. We want child wellbeing, but have at least 2 underlying contradictory ideas of what that is.

There’s the popular children as potential economic units in a WHO approach which goes something like this: ” a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. …

Then there’s the more spiritual people-are-valuable –in- themselves approach which is about “ a quality of human living. At its best it has taken the form of serenity and courage and loyalty and service; a quiet confidence and joy which enable one to feel at home in the universe and to find meaning in the world and in one’s own life, a meaning that is profound and ultimate, and is stable no matter what may happen to oneself at the level of the immediate event …” (Cantwell-Smith).

The two rub against each other. So, it’s no wonder that when we try and work out what we want, we discover something akin to the whole world needs to change.

Don’t be put off. We all have small good ideas that can help our children. Submissions are due on 28 February. Details here

Older People and their support services conference

Make sure you get your registrations in by early March for the NZCCSS services for older people conference “Moving Forward Together – Nuku Tahi – Hikoi Tahi – Maranaga Tahi”. Early Bird registrations close on 2nd March, so get in quick. The conference programme looks at key issues in our sector such as maintaining wellbeing in an ageing society, support services for dementia, working together with Māori and as well as leadership in disaster recovery.

How to be an expert on everything

Look in the BIM. BIM is Wellington-speak for Briefing to Incoming Minister. It contains all about what the Minister has to know about what is going on in his / her portfolio. So the Social Development BIM covers things like numbers on benefits and Child Youth and Family notifications. It has stuff on welfare fraud, the NGO sector, and managing the demand for benefits. You can find some of the BIM’s here:

Social development, Health, Treasury, Housing New Zealand Corporation, Department of Building and Housing, Office for Disability Issues, Families’ commission, Children’s Commission, Senior Citizens

What does it mean to do our best for children?

“Community engagement, more effective health and education, interventions and a justice system … mindful of …children”, can help towards reduce intergenerational imprisonment” according to a report supported by Te Puni Kokiri on the children of prisoners.

Other new info on child wellbeing includes Who Cares a report for Family First New Zealand

The report makes a number of recommendations including “full-time mothers should be recognised and valued, and full-time parenting should be seen as a child’s right” (full story here)

Chief Families Commissioner Carl Davidson says “Time with parents is enormously important for the safe, healthy, happy development of our children. But, today’s economic reality is such that for many families there is no real choice … so access to early childhood education and care is not an option, it is a necessity.”

The Children’s Commissioner has also done research available on the impact of early childhood education and care on young children and New Zealand families called Through their Lens – an inquiry into non parental education and care of infants and toddlers. It supports Families Commission evidence about early childhood education being likely lead to better educational and other outcomes for most children, particularly children from disadvantaged families.”

Support Māori children and contribute to the Inquiry into the Determinants of Wellbeing for Māori Children. Submissions are due on 16 March.

Crumbs from the rich man’s table

Didn’t make it to the rich list? Cheer up, those of us on the minimum wage just got a rise. The Government is increasing the minimum wage from $13 to $13.50 an hour. A whole 50 cents. Laura Black form the Methodist Mission calls it ‘a tragedy’, and points to large increases in the cost of living, and Treasury figures about an increase to $15 per hour being sustainable. FIRST Union says New Zealand’s structural problem of low wages is driving the gap between the rich and poor. Peter Conway from the CTU has said “this minimal increase to the minimum wage will not help low income households who were hit hard by the increase in GST, and not compensated adequately by tax cuts that favoured those on higher incomes.” The hospitality industry says they will pass on the cost of the increase.

Meantime inequality and its negative impacts grind on. Simon Collins has written a collection of articles of the subject:

The widening gap

Tax and benefits




What can we do?

Not specifically on Simon’s list is how we treat our indigenous people, which is a disgrace. Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres criticised those Pākeha who just don’t get it, and who better start “getting it” fast. In Auckland and 41 per cent of school children are Pākeha. If we do not address racial inequalities addressed, then we get negative social outcomes for all of us.

Waiting, waiting, waiting

People in Christchurch who live in green houses in largely red zoned streets and whose homes “may be reassessed after decisions on the orange and white zones expected by June. “ People in the red zoned houses have left. "We know we're going to be sitting like this for a long time.”

People who are the only people left in their street; they are waiting to hear their options from their insurance company before they decide what to do.

People running two businesses, but have lost their home and can’t work. “There's no communication. The poorest thing that could have happened in this whole saga is no-one tells you anything."
And from another: "No-one seems to want to make a decision because it's life-threatening if a rock comes down, and I understand that, but what's happening now is it's destroying everyone up here because the timeframes have gone on for so long."

On a happier note, Addington Action has done about 800 jobs for 500 households on about 115 uninsured homes, delivering food parcels, and offering support. Disabled people, single parents with young children and elderly people who owned their own home received help, with about half of the uninsured being elderly.

Marlborough / West Coast health care developments

Families in Marlborough will not get any more ambulance bills from rest homes for transport to Wairau Hospital after the DHB told them to stop doing it. Often the problem can be sorted out by a phone call to the emergency department.  On the West Coast, the DHB has decided the Buller Integrated Family Health Centre should be built on a single site and aged care be combined under a single provider as a result of submissions and feedback form the public, health professionals and other interested parties.


Child poverty action group’s latest newsletter here
Demographic Trends: 2011 here
Child and youth well-being index (Foundation for Child Development) here

Māori: Ko te Whakatipu Tāngata hei Huanga Ohanga Māori: Demographic Dividend for Economic Return here
The Salvation Army: The Growing Divide here

What’s on

The Electoral Commission’s review of MMP you can submit online  or upload a longer submission. Find out more about the review here. All submissions are due by 31 May.

“The Important Thing About Income Inequality is What You Do about it – Exploring the Path to Reducing Income Inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand”

Featuring our very own Paul Barber. Tuesday 28 February 2012, Connolly Hall, Guildford Terrace, 5:30pm Register hereMore.

Mental Health for the future: submissions wanted:

See the Blueprint II consultation document – the vision for the mental health and addiction sector the next 10 years. Submissions close on 9 March 2012, more.

Children’s Day

Sunday 4 March 2012

The theme is ‘treasure our children’. Find ideas on things we can do to treasure our tamariki here
Find events here .
Register events here , and get free stuff here.

National Māori Housing conference

- Venue: Copthorne Paihia

- Themes: Whanau Ora and Housing; Homelessness; Social Housing; PPPs; Substandard Housing; Quality Design.

- More info

1 comment:

Marie O'Sullivan said...

Some excellent key points here and a great collection of resources, so I was somewhat disapointed to see the conservative line-up for the well being conference. Nothing from CPAG, nothing from Public Health researchers, nothing on the growing problem of homelessness. None of the key people involved in the alternative welfare working group feature. Instead we have Paula Bennett and Tariana Turia. Both working on a long list of reasons to do nothing.