Monday 16 September 2013

“It takes a village to raise a child but it takes a community to raise a society”
Liz Weaver, Tamarack : An Institute for Community Engagement 

Collective Impact – Working Together for Change 

September saw Canadian Liz Weaver, Lead Trainer from Vibrant Communities, travelling around Aotearoa delivering workshops on ‘community change through collective impact’. During these workshops Liz shared stories on how the Collective Impact Framework has effectively tackled complex social issues in Canada. One key message from Liz was ‘collaboration is everything’ and she doesn’t mean sticking to people you already know. Community groups are encouraged to reach across preconceived boundaries (people you might not be that keen on) and engage with the likes of the business roundtable, chamber of commerce, as well as academia, local and central government. A collective ‘impact framework’ provides the structure to these relationships, and clear targets, timelines and measures provide the policy content. All this aligns well with recent thinking in New Zealand on joined up government, social service delivery and better public service targets. For more information about Tamarack and Liz Weaver, and the Collective Impact framework, visit Inspiring Communities who supported Liz’s visit.

Mind the Gap Reveals Emperor’s New Clothes Are More Flimsy than Even First Thought

Mind… The… Gap. No you haven’t been transported to the London underground but rather to Bryan Bruce’s latest documentary on what is driving the gap between rich and poor in New Zealand. Neo-liberal economics is the baddie here and from what we see in the doco most ordinary New Zealanders struggling to pay rent and food costs already see through the flimsiness of this economic model. It’s those further up the food chains that are clinging onto their old clothes. An economic model, derived from overseas (US and UK) and marketed to government by the New Zealand Treasury in the 1980s, neoliberalism has three tenets: trickle-down theory (or trickle-up as some would have us believe) de-regulation (hands off government), and privatisation (selling the family silver we already own). Bruce’s key point is thirty years on and the policy justifications of Neoliberal economics look more than a bit flimsy. Some people have benefitted (these include, shareholders, company directors, the finance sector who have gained through short-term profit) but over the long run the vast majority have not. Individuality without social responsibility are the values upon which neoliberalism stand. The result, unequal societies that follow disturbingly similar trends in material deprivation, child poverty, ill health, youth suicide etc. The documentary is well worth reviewing. Bruce interviews some credible international academics, including New Zealand’s Professor Robert Wade. Listen to the debate and make up your own mind. If you missed the documentary you can find it on TV3 “on demand”.

Max Rashbrooke’s Tour on Inequality

Max Rashbrooke, editor of Inequality : A New Zealand Crisis, will be touring parts of New Zealand in September talking about New Zealand’s rising income inequality. Please click on the following links for more information on each regional event:  Rotorua, Monday 16 September Hamilton , Wednesday 18 September, Whanganui, Thursday 19 September, New Plymouth, Friday 20 September, and Nelson, Friday 27 September.

Join the Inequality debate

Join the inequality debate at – “Sparking debate about income gaps, the damage they do, and how to narrow them”

Science-Based Evidence : How Values-Free is it ? and Can It Answer Hard Ethical Questions?

A recent report from Sir Peter Gluckman argues policy advisors in government agencies could make better use of science and evidence-based data, and recommendations include placing Departmental Science Advisors in government agencies. The contribution of science to human society requires no discussion but how objective and values-free is empirical data? Are there data sets that are legitimised over others? Are we selective about what constitutes values-free evidence? Take for example decades of robust data gathered by credible CPAG academics (along with public health researchers) on the extent of child poverty in New Zealand and its life-long impact on child development and well-being. This evidence-based data continues to struggle for legitimacy across the political spectrum. Then there is a related question around how far empirical data on social issues help us to answer hard ethical questions such as distributive justice and what is a fair society (or what I’m willing to give up for you). In the end empirical evidence can only take us so far up the road. Social justice is the inevitable crossroad, at which point we must tackle those hard ethical questions if we wish to move forward as a society. Departmental Social Justice Advisors in every government agency, working alongside Professor Gluckman’s Science Advisors, might just be a good starting point…

When is a Tax Evader Treated More Lenient Than The People Who Commit Welfare Fraud? 

….Most of the time, is the answer to this question. Associate Professor Lisa Marriott’s latest research suggests the Inland revenues department is more likely to write off unpaid tax than the Ministry of Social development (MSD) is to write off welfare debt even though the “outstanding tax bill is almost six times larger." This is one of a number of research findings from Marroitt’s research at Victoria University that suggests tax evaders are generally treated more leniently when compared to people who commit welfare fraud. “The more punitive approach to managing the debts of welfare recipients appears to reflect the underlying view of those on welfare as less deserving, while taxpayers—even those who do not pay their taxes—are viewed as providing a greater contribution to society and therefore worthy of preferential treatment.” Of interest is that the MSD debt includes loans for essential living expenses (food) that have not been paid back and overpayments to welfare beneficiaries. No adventuring overseas or trips in plush cars for this group of people, just a few groceries to feed the kids it seems.

Just Look At What a Bit of Human Kindness Can Do

In a recent article from Wesley Community Action we learn what a bit of human kindness and support can do. In the article we meet Dave who has stayed at the Wellington Men’s Shelter many times over the last 14 years, ‘each time he has been trying to escape ghosts from his past’. And Dave has had a difficult and troubled past as we learn from the article. As Dave puts it “There wasn't a home in the North Island that I didn't spend some time in”. But with support from Mike, Downtown Community Ministry, the Wellington City Council, we learn that Dave is slowly getting his life on track and working through his ghosts. “I know I’m not a bad person, I just stuff things up from time to time”. It was truly a privilege to walk in Dave’s shoes whilst reading this article and a reminder that we must never give up hope on anyone. It’s amazing what a bit of human kindness can do. Well worth a read.

Helping People Check their Benefit Entitlements in Auckland

Lisa Beech, Caritas Research & Advocacy Coordinator, is attending a ‘Benefit Impact’ organised by Auckland Action Against Poverty in West Auckland. Benefit advocates from around New Zealand have converged on the New Lynn Work and Income office for three days of benefit advocacy, inviting people to check their entitlements or work through specific issues about their benefits. Read Lisa’s blog here.

Social Housing : Big Sell Off in the Waikato

There is something is afoot in the Waikato when we read reports that living in a vandalised empty state house is “better than outside or in a garage or something. There’s a lot of people with nowhere to go.” It seems Housing New Zealand has been running a big clearance sale over the past year. According to the Waikato Times ‘the number of state houses sold in the Waikato has nearly doubled in the past financial year as the Government looks to push through major reform and focus on areas where there is “real” need’. This translates as Auckland and Christchurch. Meanwhile, back in Waikato we learn 300 Housing New Zealand homes are standing empty despite 160 people on the waiting list for accommodation. This begs the question how many children waiting for new homes does this waiting list represent? Rose Black, Researcher Poverty Action Waikato, has voiced her concern that ‘the region was losing current stock and it was not being replaced. The official word is “When we sell housing it is to reinvest in our entire housing network”. It seems this housing network could have an inbuilt Christchurch/Auckland bias. What will be the impact on children living in other regions who need a warm, safe and healthy home now?

Renting Has Just Got Harder According to Latest MBIE Statistics

Renting a home is no longer a second option if you can’t afford to buy. Latest figures from the Ministry of Business and Innovation and Employment (MBIE) reports a 1.8 percent increase over the year and some interesting trends across our cities. Renting in Christchurch is now less affordable than Wellington. “In July, private rents in Christchurch were on average $387 a week, while Wellington rents came in at $406 a week – even though its rents are lower – because its population make less money”. And if that’s not enough, the rate of rent increase was faster in Christchurch (up 12% annually) compared to Wellington (up4.4%).

The Vulnerable Children’s Bill Tabled at Parliament

Hot off the press. The Vulnerable Children’s Bill has been tabled at Parliament and will have its first reading in the next 2 weeks after Parliament returns from recess. The Bill is available, along with regulatory impact statements and  NZCCSS’ analysis of the Bill will be made available once completed. Watch this space for further updates.

Tick for Kids Reminder

A reminder about Every Child Count’s Tick for Kids Campaign calling on candidates for the District Health Board to champion an agenda for children.

You can also check candidate support for the Living Wage

See ‘Local Government Elections’ on the Living Wage website  to for candidates who have committed to developing policies to pay a living wage to Council staff and contractors. Auckland:  Wellington:

CPAG’s Appeal Against In-Work Tax

Despite their valiant efforts, CPAG’s long-standing appeal to end discrimination against children who miss out on In work Tax Credit (worth $60) because their parents are not In Work, has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal. Dr Nikki Turner, Spokesperson for CPAG, has written a thoughtful reflection on the impact of this decision on the very poorest children in our society. Children who’s quality of life could have been substantially improved by a single decision taken by the Court of Appeal.

Funding News : Religious organisations now eligible for Microsoft donations

Microsoft have just announced they have expanded their donation program to include religious organisations! From operating systems to office software, religious organisations now have access to the entire donated Microsoft software range.
Check out the link. View the range and order today »
Office 365 for charities is here!
If your staff are spread over several locations, you may be eligible to receive donated or discounted licences of Office in the cloud!
Find out more »

Caritas Resource on youth unemployment for Social Justice Week September 8-14

With alarming rates of youth unemployment at about 29% Caritas are focussing on this for Social Justice Week Sept 8-14th. ‘Walk Alongside: Meaningful Work for the Young Worker’ is a resource on youth unemployment.

Huge Step Forward For Low-Paid Women Care Workers

An employment case taken by a Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) member has resulted in an employment court decision that could potentially end “low wages in occupations simply because they are women’s jobs”.
The decision is set to affect the pay conditions of thousands of female workers, particularly in health and education. SFWU has said it is “keen to engage in a process with the aged care employers and the government funders, under the umbrella of the Court to set a fair rate of pay for caregivers, not the lower rates that are paid now simply because caregivers are women.” Watch this space for further updates on this process. For more information on the judgment summary click here:

Minister’s Speech At The NZ Aged Care Conference

Minister Jo Goodhew’s speech at the NZAC Conference is online on the Parliament website. The speech sets out a pretty comprehensive list of government funded initiatives in the aged care sector which might be handy to hang onto.

Public Information on Rest Homes

Welcome news to many people with elderly parents wanting to make the ‘right choice’ of care for their loved ones. In light of recent cases of scandalously poor quality care in rest homes, Minister Goodhew has announced more information about rest homes will be made publicly available. From November summary audit reports will be published on the Ministry of Health’s My DHB Website from November 2013. This is a six month trial but it’s continuation after that time will be based on how frequently it is used.

Inequalities highlighted in the Super City report – Youth Unemployment Pacific 31% Maori 26% Overall unemployment 7%

Auckland University’s research report ‘Super City? State of Auckland’  has given Auckland Super City a ‘B’ Grade for its first term performance. Findings in the report highlight inequalities in health - ‘over 40% of adult residents survey in Auckland’s most deprived local board area, Mangere-Otahuhu gave a negative health rating and youth employment - while the overall unemployment rate is 7.2 for Pacific Island youth it is 31% and for Maori youth it is 26%. A summary of the findings are available.

United Nations Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in New Zealand 

(comment due 19th September)
The government’s draft Universal Periodic Review report is available for public consultation. The report will be available online until 19 September 2013. Public submissions will be considered before submitting the final report to Cabinet. Find out more about the UPR process, read the submissions from the Human Rights Commission and other organisations here:


Getting into the Act: Local Government and Public Health in 2013 and Beyond

The Public Health Association is raising awareness of the impact of local government on public health in the lead up to the local elections. They have recently published this piece about the issues arising from the amendments to the Local Government Act - this can be downloaded here.  Resources on topical public health issues and the health and wellbeing of communities are on the Local Elections portal.

What’s On

Salvation Army ‘Just Action’ 2013 : Conference. 

18-19 September 2013 Manukau, New Zealand, at the Vodafone Events Centre. Information and Registration at

CPAG and Holy Trinity Cathedral Mark the 75th Anniversary of the Social Security Act 1938

When: Monday September 16, 2013 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM NZST
Where :The Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, Auckland
Cnr St Stephens Ave & Parnell Rd
Auckland 1052
New Zealand
Register interest in attending here.

CPAG Fund Raiser

Bryan Bruce will discuss and present his documentary Mind the Gap
Where: Spectrum Theatre, BP House, corner Customhouse Quay and Johnson St, Wellington.
When Friday 27 September 6.30, entry $20, refreshments, raffle
Copies of Mind the Gap and of Inside Child Poverty will be on sale.
Funds raised will be used to support CPAG's research projects.

Joy Cowley

Quiet Day Saturday 19 October 10am – 3pm. St Andrews on the Terrace, Wellington

No comments: