Monday 24 June 2013

Policy Watch 24 June 2013

“We are called to love our neighbours, to recognise and celebrate the innate human dignity of each person and all people, to nurture and care for creation, and protect the most vulnerable. Each of us is called to this work because we are human beings”. Caritas, 2013

Government Quiet on Child Poverty

The Government has gone a wee bit quiet on the child poverty front since its official response to the EAG Report.  Well, when you’re already doing enough, what more is there to say? Professor Jonathan Boston, Co-Chairperson of the EAG on Solutions to Child Poverty holds a different view though. He thinks much more could be done and this includes as a priority a means of "measuring child poverty, clear targets and a monitoring and review framework to hold government to account”. Check out the full interview, along with comments from Deborah Morris-Travers, Every Child Counts.

Child Abuse: What Role Does Poverty Play?

25 years of research on child abuse has largely been ignored? That’s the conclusion draw in CPAG’s latest report  Child Abuse: what role does poverty play?…"substantive research showing the association between poverty and deprivation, child maltreatment and neglect."  But it seems government prefers not to deal with the causes of abuse but on reporting and monitoring and risk assessment”.  A little easier to deal with one imagines.  Pity some of this research didn’t make it into the recent Vote debate. “Our kids: the problem's not poverty, it's parenting." Middle New Zealand still prefers to blame bad parents not grinding poverty. Our NZCCSS service providers  (Page 14) tell us a different story. Parents under enormous pressure love their kids and are doing the best they can.

Welfare Reform Sanctions: What will be the Impact of Policy Changes on Our Most Vulnerable Children ?

14 days to go until new Social Obligations and Benefit Categories are introduced across New Zealand on 15 July 2013. What will it mean? Well if you’re a beneficiary and have an uncleared warrant you’ll need to clear it pronto but government doesn’t care how you get the money. A nasty loan shark is fine so long as it’s paid because if you don’t the big state sanction stick will stop your benefit. But it’s ok if you have kids, your benefit will only be reduced by up to half. Unlike middle New Zealand, you don’t need to worry about feeding the kids, keeping them warm and dry and taking them to a GP, pharmacist or dentist. You’re probably a bad parent anyway and the kids don’t know any different. Hard hearted no, you’re on your own. But there is more Pre-employment Drug testing. You’ll need to kick your drug habit as quick as paying your warrant. You’ll get two chances, very generous, and then the big state sanction stick comes out again. If you fail a drug test the second time your benefit will be stopped for 13 weeks. But phew if you have kids your benefit will only be reduced by up to half. Where’s the teeth.

At NZCCSS what we hear from our service providers is that the people who get caught by these requirements are always those who are most marginalised – those who have lower literacy, who don’t understand the rules or whose lives are most chaotic. Let’s hope that Work and Income are able to ensure people who are in danger of being sanctioned are linked with advocates and support agencies to help them overcome the hurdles to getting their Benefit payments.

Please Sir Can I have Some More? 

The food in schools debate is likely to receive a second airing when the Hon Hone Haeawira’s Feed the Kids Bill is debated in Parliament on 31 July 2013. The Bill is supported by a coalition of 27 organisations who have been working to promote political action in response to the 80,000 children who arrive at school hungry. The Bill aims to set up government funded breakfast and lunch programs in all decile 1-2 schools and paid coordinators in schools, as well as monitoring and evaluation. Here’s hoping the Ministry of Health’s Food and Nutrition Guidelines receive more of a mention this time round. The Government’s response of 2 weetbix a day doesn’t sound much nutrition to sustain a growing child. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child recommends (46)  food in school is “combined with nutrition and health education, including setting up school gardens and training teachers to improve children’s nutrition and healthy eating habits".  Still, weetbix in schools is a cheap option and only half the cost to the state. What do you mean can I have some more?

CPAG in the Court of Appeal

In May the Court of Appeal heard CPAG’s case that the In Work Tax Credit discriminates against children of beneficiaries. A decision is expected in the next two to three months. Check out CPAG’s website to keep up to date.

OECD Report: Economic Survey Of New Zealand 2013

Yeah, the New Zealand economy is beginning to gain some momentum, with post earthquake reconstruction, business investment and household spending gathering pace. The OECD – the rich countries club – has provided some advice back to government including how we need to put in place a capital gains tax to encourage investment in businesses and to take the heat out of housing speculation. It also says we aren’t making any progress on reducing income inequalities, we are in fact one of the most unequal countries in the OECD – so while the OECD thinks we are generally on the right track it sure doesn’t look like things are going to get any easier for people trying to get a warm, dry home, or, for our society to overcome the harm of high inequality. Risks to growth remain, however, stemming from high private debt levels, weak foreign demand, large external imbalances, volatile terms of trade, a severe drought and an exchange rate that appears overvalued. More>>
Scoop Business - OECD urges capital gains tax, deposit insurance
NZ Govt - OECD backs New Zealand economic policy mix
Labour - OECD says CGT would address inequality and grow the economy
Greens - OECD gives thumbs up to Green economic direction

Gambling Harm Amendment Bill

Is reported back by the Select Committee with significant changes. The Green Party has withdrawn its support because it claims in its minority report that the original aims of the Bill have been watered down entirely  and the Labour Party has reserved its position on the Bill. The NZCCSS submission in support of the Bill asked the Committee to:
  •  Use other less socially harmful ways of raising money than gaming machines to fund community recreation, health and social services and ensure that reduced gaming proceeds are compensated to community groups through other funding sources (e.g. taxation).
  •  Give local authorities full power to prohibit gaming machines.
  •  Ensure genuine community purposes are served through gaming machine funding and exclude racing stakes and professional sport as authorised purposes.
  •  Stop the diversion of money out of low income communities into better-off communities by creating local boards to distribute funds.
  •  Require gaming machine operators to use pre-commit technology and other processes to restrict harmful gambling behaviour.
  •  Eliminate gaming trusts and replace them with more transparent and publically accountable locally based alternatives.
On a first quick look, the changes have not picked up any of these proposals and actually weakened the overall purpose of the Bill, which is very disappointing.The Select Committee report is here: Since then the Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain has also announced a package of measures that will be dealt with as regulations that go some way to addressing concerns NZCCSS raised in its submission but Denise Roche from the Greens is still not impressed.

Review of Constitution: Update

There are signs of democracy in progress here in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The Constitutional Advisory Panel has announced an extension to the deadline for submission from 1 July 2013 to 31 July2013 due to ‘growing interest in the Constitution Conversation’ here. Co-chair Sir Tipene O’Regan says “What we’re starting to see around the country is a better understanding of the issues and a broader range of ideas. We’ve received more than 1500 submissions so far. We are keen to give more people and organisations the opportunity to submit their views.” Submissions can be made at. For further information: on the Constitutional Advisory Panel:

Volunteers Week

A NZCCSS bouquet goes to Age Concern this week and to 2300 volunteer visitors who through its Accredited Visiting Service (AVS) made 75,000 visits and 15,000 supportive phone calls to older people in need of a bit of company. For more information about AVS visit.  And well done to all our other volunteers around the country who also make a significant contribution to communities and to our collective sense of the common good.

Age Concern’s Always Respected, Never Abused Campaign

Age Concern has launched its national campaign Always Respected, Never Abused campaign, leading up to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day last Saturday June 15. This national campaign aims to build awareness of the widespread issue of elder abuse and neglect. Check out Age Concerns website for more information on activities in communities throughout the country.

The New Zealand Story About Inequality

Still counting down to the launch of the book “Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis” at the end of June that tells the story of the growing gap between rich and poor in this country. Check out the Bridget Williams Books website where you can order book copies. Professor Robert Wade, a New Zealander now based at the London School of Economics, is one of the contributors to the book. He will be speaking at a one-day conference in Wellington hosted by the Institute for Government and Policy Studies on 18th July as well as giving a series of lectures around the country in July (see BWB website for details).

What’s On ?

IGPS Forum Increasing Inequality: causes, consequences and responses, 18 July 2013
The purpose of this forum is to provide an opportunity to reflect on the latest research and policy debates on
the causes and consequences of the rise of income inequality in most OECD countries since the 1980s;
how some of the negative social impacts of inequality might be mitigated; the options for reducing income inequality and which, if any, have merit.  For further information and to register go here

Children in Crisis Conference- A National Hui, 7-9 October 2013
The Centre for Global Studies in Education at University of Waikato, Te Whare Wânanga o Waikato, Hamilton, is hosting this important national hui in response to recent reports and research on children in crisis in Aotearoa/ New Zealand. Further details are available on the conference website:


Health Status of Children and Young People in New Zealand Report [February 2013]
The Health Status of Children and Young People in New Zealand report is now available online at the link below. The report reviews a range of hospital admission, mortality and other data to provide an overview of the current health status of children and young people in New Zealand.
The Distribution of Household Crowding in New Zealand:
The Distribution of Household Crowding in New Zealand: An analysis based on the 1991 to 2006 Census data looks at the distribution of exposure to household crowding for ethnic and other population sub-groups.
The report demonstrates that the relative risk of developing close contact infectious diseases (CCIDs) is higher for Māori and Pacific people who are exposed to higher rates of crowded housing. It cannot show a direct link with health outcomes as the census does not collect CCIDs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent publication great work being done by the people in NZCSS .............keeping us all advised of what is happening in this beautiful Aotearoa as the foreign ornwed MEDIA WONT DO THAT FOR US NOW.........that includes visual audio and print so we must keep in touch as brothers and sisters in christ and christian caring to care for each other. i agree with you God bless your work. i am sharing your newsletter with lots of my groups around the country. Marie and John Hutt Valley