Tuesday 9 July 2013

Policy Watch 9th July 2013

“Poverty is just a word…
But a word that means a lot
Not when said but when seen.
Poverty is just a cycle but an on-going cycle
Not being altered but left aside.
Poverty is on our conscience
But at the back of our minds
Not acted on
But why not?”

By Sa’o, high school student, Otahuhu

Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty in New Zealand : Issues and Options Paper for Consultation.  28 August 2012, page vi.   here

Inequality : Understanding Child Poverty in the Bigger Context

Sa’o raises a pertinent question; why is poverty 'not acted on'? Here at NZCCSS we see valiant efforts to alleviate the impacts of child poverty across New Zealand but hard evidence leaves no doubt child poverty and poor child health persists with little sign of improvement. It’s perplexing for most of us but how do we explain this to our children? One thing is clear, we cannot hope to do justice to Sa’o’s question without an understanding of the bigger context in which child poverty sits. And without this understanding, we are all the poorer.

Inequality : A New Zealand Crisis

Its arrived at last! This much awaited New Zealand book was officially launched at the National Library on Thursday 27 June with much fanfare, enthusiasm and goodwill. It tells the story of rising income inequality in New Zealand, ‘where the gap between high and low incomes has widened faster in recent decades than in most other developed nations’. It seeks to explore the nature, causes and consequences of income inequality on our communities, and looks ahead to how we might return to a more equal society.

There is an impressive array of contributors including our very own Paul Barber at NZCCSS. He’s a few snippets:

Karlo Mila, “Inequality means watching people close to you … persistently struggling… to keep their households afloat, to do their best for their children and to make good decisions by weighing up the constrained choices on offer”.

Kim Workman and Tracey McIntosh, “..A wider commitment to reducing income inequalities would logically be complemented by more egalitarian forms of justice. These alternative models, based around support not punishment, would emphasise the fairness and compassion that are at the heart of egalitarianism”.

Paul Barber, “Understanding fairness involves empathy, as a society or community, as well as individually. It involves the ‘capacity to recognise and at least to some extent share another’s situation, feelings or motives’. Without this quality of empathy, the notion of fairness loses much of its moral meaning.”

Max Rashbrooke, “Today’s extremes of wealth and poverty in New Zealand are striking – especially because after the Second World War, we were one of the world’s more equal societies. Landmark reforms by two governments….. helped make New Zealand a notably egalitarian country by world standards”.

Jonathan Boston, “While equality is highly valued, there is huge disagreement about why equality matters and what precisely should be equalised”.

Robert Wade, “The sharp increase in income concentration at the top of national income distributions over recent decades should have prompted a ….. public debate about the question: ‘When are the rich too rich?”

And there’s many more contributors.

Order from your bookseller or Bridget Williams Books website 

Inequality.org.nz  - Join the discussion about the issues the book raised on the website run by editor Max Rashbrooke with support from NZCCSS and JR McKenzie  Trust

One Day Conference with Robert Wade

Spend a day with Professor Robert Wade, a New Zealander now based at the London School of Economics, will be speaking at a one-day conference in Wellington hosted by the Institute for Government and Policy Studies on 18th July.

Professor Robert Wade Lectures: Inequality and the West Capitalism at a Tipping Point

With the support of the J. R. McKenzie Trust and the BWB Publishing Trust, Professor Wade will also be holding free public lectures in Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington, as follows:

Auckland:Monday 8 July 6pm Old Government House Lecture Theatre Co-hosted with the University of Auckland Business School
To be followed by the launch of Inequality in the OGH Members Lounge
Bookseller: Unity Books Auckland
Dunedin: Thursday 11 July 5.30pm University of Otago Archway 3 Lecture Theatre Co-hosted with the Division of Humanities,
Bookseller: Unity Books Otago
Christchurch: Friday 12 July 4pm University of Canterbury A3 Lecture Theatre Co-hosted with the School of Social and Political Sciences, and the New Zealand Fabian Society To be followed by wine and light refreshments Bookseller: Unity Books Canterbury
Wellington: Tuesday 16 July, 6pm Soundings Theatre Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Kim Hill Radio Interview

Check out this illuminating interview with Professor Robert Wade on inequality.

Please note the first Robert Wade Lecture in Auckland was oversubscribed so make sure you get in early!!!

Better Housing For All Our Children : Ethics, Evidence and Economics

“Baby Spent last night on floor of cold, leaky room…. The constable said the two bedroom weatherboard house was in very poor condition… The chimney in the lounge was not attached to a fireplace, instead, it rested in a bucket. The area around the chimney by the ceiling was leaking, the water was running down the chimney and on to the two-seater couch…. The toilet bowl was sitting on the floor of the bathroom. It was not connected to any sewerage pipes ……several windows were broken and boarded over. They were not waterproof. French doors to the lounge did not close securely and rain leaked on to the floorboards. The night the baby died the family – slept on foam mattresses on the lounge floor because the uncarpeted bedroom was freezing. A three year old slept on a couch. … The home was generally tidy and clutter free, with benches wiped down and clothing folded". [Dominion Post, June 26, 2013]

Dickensian England 1852, no, a Bay of Plenty House, private rental, New Zealand 2013, but you could be mistaken for thinking otherwise……..

The launch of “For Every Child a Healthy Home” Campaign

Every Child Counts has launched For Every Child a Healthy Home and wants every child to have a home where:
1. The house is warm, dry, ventilated, safe and not overcrowded.
2. The household has adequate income to maintain a standard of living that meets the physical, mental and emotional needs of children.
3. Parents and caregivers are well supported and connected to their community.
4. There is a focus on education with all family members given opportunities to continue learning, which in turn supports children's learning with language, books and play.

“Evidence, ethics and economics all point towards the need for greater investment in better housing for children”.  That was the take home message at the launch from Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago, and member of the EAG Group on Solutions to Child Poverty. “Housing should be seen as an important national infrastructure…Children are particularly vulnerable to the illnesses caused by poor quality housing – but children under five are especially so because they spend more time at home than older children do’.   What about recent announcements to require a warrant of fitness for state housing? Surely this will make a difference. Yes for some of our children, but it seems the impact of this policy initiative may not reach our most vulnerable children, who are more likely to live in privately owned rental accommodation. Evidence from the He Kainga Oranga Housing and Health Research Programme finds `private rentals housing being on average of poorer quality than state housing, which in turn is on average of poorer quality than houses that are owner occupied..’  To understand why check out the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947. Professor Howden-Chapman thinks New Zealand’s outdated regulations “fail to ensure housing meets minimum health and safety standards". Time to review? The passing of a baby on the floor of a cold, leaky room in Aotearoa, New Zealand in 2013 answers this question…….
For more information on For Every Child a Health Home check out the Every Child Count website 
Also, Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty. Working Paper no. 18: Housing policy recommendations to address child poverty.

Who Wants to be a Sole Parent on the DPB?

Unlike wanting to be a millionaire, wanting to be a sole parent on a DPB carries an enormous social stigma. Stigma that is also keenly felt by the children of sole parents, along with material deprivation. A refreshing read then is CPAG’s paper Myths and Facts: Sole Parents and the DPB. Drawing on extensive research, the paper seeks to ‘unpick the myths’ of who is a sole parent and why. The key message is “sole parents are not a homogeneous group, but encompass a range of people in different circumstances”. Not rocket science, just some compassion and empathy needed to understand.

Feed the Kids Bill now 10 July 2013 –Update

Hon Hone Haeawira’s Feed the Kids Bill is back on to be debated in Parliament on 10 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. For further information check out the website.

When is a Homeless Person Not A Homeless Person?

Is it just when you don’t have a ‘physical roof over your head’, meaning a house? But what about when you live in a car, garage, tent, couch surf at friends or when more than one family is living in a house and its overcrowded. Are you still homeless? The definition of homelessness is currently a point of discussion up and down the country. How about we take out the guess work and consult with those agencies actively supporting people in hardship on the nature and scope of homelessness in our communities. From here we will likely be better placed to design effective government policies and to inform our policy makers.

Beggers Offend Sensibilities

The sensibilities of the Glossy, Attractive, and Moneyed, and those aspiring to be are currently being offended by the presence of those not doing so well on all the above scores. Auckland Council is ‘cracking down’ on them, the beggers that is. The Glossy, Attractive and Moneyed are allowed to swagger around Auckland; they get a big tick. We are told there’s a link between crime and begging but what about poverty and begging, is there a link here too? Major Pam Waugh, The Salvation Army’s head of Social Services says “People who begged often saw it as their only option. Ideally, the church wouldn’t want anyone begging it was demoralising”. The sensibilities of Wellingtonians are also being challenged with a current Wellington City Council campaign to persuade people not to give directly to beggers. Alas, social justice advocates have no such sensibilities. We say let’s not hide the signs of inequality at its most extreme, let us find out why more people are begging on the streets and use our energy to find solutions.

The New Zealand Carers’ Strategy

The New Zealand Carers’ Strategy was launched in 2008 with an Action Plan covering 2008 to 2012. The Action Plan is due to be renewed for five years. To make the Action Plan for 2013 to 2018 as relevant as possible, the Ministry of Social Development is seeking your views on a draft which has the input from the Carers Alliance and reflects international trends and government priorities. The closing date for comments is 2nd August 2013.

Carers Strategy Public Consultation Meetings: Family carers are also invited to attend public meetings where you are invited to give your feedback on the draft Carers’ Strategy Action Plan for 2013 – 2018. Meetings are being held in July in Wellington, Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch - see Carers Net website for more info.

Catholic Sisters new aged care development

It is exciting to see that the Sisters of Nazareth in Christchurch have decided on going ahead with a new development after their buildings were badly damaged and had to be demolished following the 2010 & 2011 earthquakes. “We want to create a real community of our own, but which also connects to the wider area so that residents still feel very much in touch with the wider community - a community within the community,” says Sister Dominica, Chair of Nazareth Care Australasia.
Improve your social life by moving into aged care…

Here are some interesting new positive stories about moving to aged care from an Australian study. Queensland University of Technology suggests many new residents of aged care facilities find their existential despair disappears, their health improves, and their social life takes off .


Health Quality and safety Commission – Family Violence Death Review Third Annual Report 2011 to December 2012.

The Family Violence Death Review Committee is recommending:
· developing a nationally consistent multi-agency, case management process for high-risk cases
· that stopping violence programmes develop parallel services for victims of family violence that focus on victim safety and seek victims’ views as part of the ongoing assessment process
· developing a multi-agency after-care process, that focuses on the safety and wellbeing of surviving family members.
The Report is available on the Commission’s website

What’s On ?

Mental Health Policy Development: Where Is The Evidence?

Wellington Mental Health Research Forum presents;
This forum will continue and extend the discussion begun in our last forum. We’ll be asking how research is used in the development of new policy and practice, whether current clinical and community policy is driven by the relevant evidence, and what kinds of research would support the planning of future policy and practice?

Wednesday July 24th, 9.30 – 12.30

Executive Seminar Suite, Massey University (access from Wallace Street - See the Map below.)

Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand – Symposium 

The Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGNZ) is holding a Symposium for The Impact of Problem Gambling on Children and Young People in New Zealand. 
Join the Problem Gambling Foundation for a one day symposium in Wellington to discuss the impact of problem gambling on children and young people in New Zealand.

The event is open to everyone interested in this important social issue and who would like to understand or play an active role in developing solutions and addressing the determinants of health of our current and future generations.

We've highlighted the problem – be part of the solution.
Friday 23rd August 2013
10 am – 3:45 pm
St John in the City
Corner of Willis and Dixon streets,

Just Action 2013 : Conference. The Salvation Army

When: 18-19 September 2013
Where: Manukau, New Zealand
Venue: Vodafone Events Centre

Register now.  Here you can also find more information on the conference and on our headline speakers, plus accommodation, transport and eating option.

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