Monday 9 December 2013

“Ki te kahore he whakakitenga ka ngaro to iwi: 
Without a vision, the people perish. 

Without leadership, they follow their own self-rewarding schemes. 

Without a destination, they wander aimlessly. 

Without companions, they travel alone”.

Mike Riddell, 
Life Without A Vision
Tui Motu [Sept 2013]

Poroporoaki ki a Sam Jackson

“Kua hinga te tōtara nui i Te Waonui a Tāne. 
A mighty tōtara has fallen in the great forest of Tāne.”

NZCCSS joined Wellington iwi and those affiliated to Taranaki Whanui at Pipitea Marea to farewell Te Atiawa kaumatua Sam Jackson. Sam and his wife June Jackson, were together, Kaumatua and protocol advisor to a range of government departments, local government and the not-for-profit sector, including supporting NZCCSS at its last conference. Sam was a much loved, well respected Kaumatua, and a legend for both his knowledge of tikānga Māori, and for his grace, warmth, dignity and wisdom. He will be greatly missed by all who he touched but his legacy will live on.

Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust Wins Supreme Award

Nga Tanga Microfinance has won the Supreme award at the NZI National sustainable Business Awards and signals a real step forward in the wider community recognition of communities trapped in a cycle of poverty, where it only takes one financial set back and a high interest loan to become the only option. Child Poverty Action Groups’ Dr Claire Dale set up the scheme in 2009, along with the NZ Council of Christian Social Services and NZ Federation of Family Budget Services. While not the first microfinance scheme in New Zealand, Nga Tangata is working towards having a national presence and is strongly supported by Kiwibank.  NZCCSS member Presbyterian Support Northern has been critical to success of the South Auckland project.  Dr Dale hopes the growth and development of Nga Tangata trust over the years will spell the end of loan shark operators. “Every child deserves the opportunity to thrive and this can be achieved when communities have access to the right types of support”

Health Select Committee Steps Up with a Vision for Children

Parliament has a vision for the health of all New Zealand children and it’s a credit to the Health Select Committee process. The report entitled Inquiry into improving child health outcomes and preventing child abuse with a focus from preconception until three years of age and takes a “proactive, health–promotion, disease prevention approach to improving children’s outcomes and diminishing child abuse”. The report is comprehensive extending across a broad range of health indicators. The underlying premise of the report is “investing in children for a good start in life”, and as Colin James pointed out “That principle is edging into policy”  It is significant that the report recognises socioeconomic determinants to health, including child poverty. This is a huge step forward but it does beg the question why was child poverty excluded from the scope of the Vulnerable Children Bill? Would a combined Health and Social Service Select Committee have taken a broader approach to child vulnerability? And should health and social services be integrated? The next step for this vision is financial support from Cabinet and The Treasury, so we eagerly await the government’s response to the report, and news on the next budget round.

UNICEF Report Kids Missing Out

It’s twenty years since New Zealand ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) but a recent UNICEF report concludes New Zealand continues to drag its feet in terms of upholding its obligations under the treaty. “Kids Missing Out” examines the extent to which New Zealand has met its UNCROC obligations and shows while there are some improvements (free health visits for under six year olds and the Working for Families package) more is needed to address the reality of 270,000 children living in poverty without “inadequate income, or housing, and suffering from significant increases in infectious diseases, mistreatment and inequality”. Here’s hoping the Health Select Committee report above becomes a blueprint for addressing just these issues.
Listen to Deborah Morris-Travers talking about the UNICEF report and next steps forward .

Listen also to Dr Russell Wills, The Children’s Commission, taking about the UNICEF report and the need for child poverty be identified as a top priority, with goals and targets. Hear also about the Child Poverty Monitor to be launched on 9 December 2013

Listen to Dr Nikki Turner talk on Disease Rates among children criticised in the report and what needs to happen next.

Make rights real for all NZ kids so they can grow up safe with a standard of living

Check out UNICEF NZ’s petition to support the launch of the Kids Missing Out report and to help build pressure for action as we head into election year, and the next report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Launch of Child Poverty Monitor

The first Child Poverty Monitor report is here and there’s no shying away from the extent of the problem. The report released by Dr Russell Wills, The Children’s Commissioner, shows “1 in 6 Kiwi children are going without basic necessities. This could mean not having a bed, delaying a doctor’s visit or missing out on meals”. The report, funded by the J R McKenzie Trust, will report annually against health and well-being indicators. Child Poverty Action group (CPAG) Professor Innes Asher says “The country’s first Child Poverty Monitor shows shocking poverty causing diseases in our children and this can change if we want to”. With this report together with others, ignorance is simply no longer an excuse. Here’s some more facts from the report:

· 256,000 children live in poverty defined by income
· 1 in 3 Māori and Pacific children live in poverty
· 1 in 7 European children live in poverty
· 1 in 10 suffer severe poverty lacking basic necessities and adequate income
· 3 out of 5 will be living in poverty for much of their childhood
· 51 % are from solo parent families
· 60 % are from beneficiary families

When Checking in is not Checking Up on Solo Parents

Sole parents are under the spot light again and benefit fraud is the focus according to a recent media article. It seems officials are hoping to catch out solos in unreported relationships as contractors go door knocking at the homes of beneficiaries, 14 weeks after going onto a sole benefit to ensure they are not claiming whilst in a relationship. We are assured sole parents “will see it as the department being helpful”. “It’s about “checking in and not checking up”. Though this could be a stretch of the imagination given the current focus on reducing the social welfare spend. The article notes “the amount owed (to Work and Income) was rising because more fraud was being uncovered”.  If such fraud is occurring it needs to been seen in the context of housing, food and energy insecurity which is driving people to desperate measures.  See the latest NZCCSS Vulnerability Report on the barriers to affording basic necessities, the trade-offs people on low incomes are making, and the impact of ‘going without’ on their children’s health, well-being and schooling. December marks the start of the Advent season and a time of faith and hope. Let’s start the season with some empathy and compassion for a whole lot of people who are simply doing the best they can to raise a family on what is an excruciatingly inadequate income.

When Social Obligations Go Beyond Reasonable

A recent article in the Waikato Times about a sole parent who trekked on foot 25 kilometres to attend a mandatory Work and Income meeting, as part of new social obligations, is a raw reminder that policies developed in the Capital, no matter how well intentioned, must be practicable and workable in smaller and rural centres. Putaruru is not a carbon copy of Wellington Central; it is a community where employment opportunities are like gold dust, public transportation is limited and not everyone can afford to buy and run a car. Sitting behind these social obligations is a new investment approach to social welfare. There are many positives to this approach but without a culture of trust in Work and Income Offices, flexibility in the implementation of policy to account for individual circumstances, location, and a genuine interest in ‘supporting’ those at the receiving end of benefits, the real potential of an investment approach will simply be lost.

What a Child Centred Policy Would Say About Social Welfare Reforms

Should Children indirectly suffer as a result of decisions made by their parents? This question sits at the heart of a recent debate on recent changes to social welfare legislation that sanctions parents for not complying with specific social obligations Dominion Post 5th December 2013. An adult centred policy would say Not Relevant and Out of Scope, while a child centred policy would say unequivocally No. Children should not be made more vulnerable and more deprived because of decisions made by adults and that are out of their control. An overarching children strategy as discussed by Dr Russell Wills in his radio talk above, and a review of specific legislation against harm to children would like go a long way to resolving this moral dilemma.

Family 100 Research Leads To New Partnership Approach

Families in South Auckland can now access a new partnership food bank at Nga Whare Waatea Marae. Diane Roberts, Auckland City Missioner, says “This initiative is in direct response to preliminary findings by the Mission’s ground breaking Family 100 research project about the real difficulties families faced when the unexpected happened and people had run out of option”. Partnership with community agencies in Auckland is intended to assist families out of poverty by working with partner agencies to provide not only food parcels but also “equipment, expertise, and social work support to each agency”.

'Is New Zealand Fair' School Competition

The winners of Is New Zealand Fair School Competition are out.
In the primary/intermediate category, first place went to Pukehamoamoa School for a boardgame simulating the real-life impacts of wealth inequalities. More than 100 people played the game and it was sent home to students' families.
In the secondary category, first place went to Avonside Girls High School. They created blackboard frames to collect students' opinions in the playground. They also gave away jellybeans and information reflecting the wealth distribution in New Zealand in a way that got lots of people talking.
Other entries were also fantastic and you can see many of the entries on the facebook page:

Food In Schools : Update

“Please, sir, replied Oliver, I want some more. The board were sitting in solemn conclave, when Mr Bumble rushed into the room in great excitement, and addressing the gentleman in the high chair. Mr Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir! Oliver Twist has asked for more! There was a general start. Horror was depicted on every countenance. For MORE!' said Mr Limbkins. 'Compose yourself, Bumble, and answer me distinctly. Do I understand that he asked for more, after he had eaten the supper allotted by the dietary? He did, sir,' replied Bumble”.
Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist 1838
New Zealand is not Dickensian England, but it is a country where approximately 270,000 children experience severe and persistent poverty, and where thousands of children want more than a life of going without sufficient and regular nutritious food. The voice of the Mr Limbkins’ of the world still resonate in places but for the majority there’s a lot happening in this space and a real enthusiasm to debate the issue of food in schools at the select committee stage. Here’s an overview of the policy story so far.

Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools) Amendment Bill

Last month Hone Harawira organised a breakfast event for the students of Natone Park School to coincide with the first reading of his Food in schools bill. The Bill was subsequently postponed as the House ran out of time. The latest information received indicates the Bill will have its first reading in the New Year. While the delay is disappointing, the significance of this Bill lies in its potential to drive a whole-of- country debate about food in schools and how best to implement a programme that fits a diverse range of needs. So while this potential may have been delayed, it hasn’t been lost. Here’s a quick reminder for those needing a refresher. The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Education Act 1989 to provide for the introduction of fully State funded breakfast and lunch programmes into all decile 1 and 2 schools, and other designated schools in New Zealand. It is also provides for the availability of meals to all enrolled students in these schools free of charge, and will be required to meet Ministry of Health nutritional guidelines.

The Story of Hungry Children Video - Check out the Public Issues Network for an excellent reminder to adults on why we need to stop talking about hunger and start doing something to provide food to every child who needs it. The Story of Hungry Children.

Rest Home Audits

The Ministry of Health has an interactive database of health care providers to find certified rest homes and it looks pretty good. Full audit reports are also available for some rest homes. See the Full audit reports page to find out more.

New Zealand Framework for Dementia Care

The Ministry of Health has also released the New Zealand Framework for Dementia Care. The framework has three guiding principles: 1) following a person-centred and people-directed approach 2) providing accessible, proactive and 3) integrated services that are flexible to meet a variety of needs and developing the highest possible standard of care. This is a comprehensive framework that will add value to the Age care sector.

Constitutional Advisory Panel's Report released

The Constitutional Advisory Panel has released the Panel’s report on the Constitution Conversation.
A copy of the report, along with the Panel's press release, is available for download.  The website will also continue to host the information resources, to support ongoing conversations. The submissions will be available on the website by 14 December.


Salvation Army Housing Report
The report, Give Me Shelter, suggests housing policy has, for the past two decades, lacked a guiding philosophy or even an understanding of future housing needs or what housing programmes are supposed to achieve. The report looks specifically at the two main housing assistance programmes – the accommodation supplement and subsidies paid by the state to Housing New Zealand – and offers a framework of how developing a sustainable and effective housing policy might be achieved.

CPAG: Social Security and Decent Work

Child Poverty Action Group's latest research backgrounder - Benefit Sanctions: creating an invisible underclass of children? shows monitoring systems are lacking and creating confusion over the numbers sanctioned, in particular parents of children.

Speeches from CPAG’s reflections on the 75th Anniversary of the Social Security Act

Social Security and Decent Work - Prof Paul Dalziel
Economist Professor Paul Dalziel spoke of how the Savage Labour Government realised “there is no way of dealing with poverty except by getting to the people who are poorly paid”. He contrasted that approach with the trickle-down theories of recent governments that have lost sight of the importance for decent work to raise people’s wellbeing.

Women and the Welfare State - Assoc Prof Susan St John
Associate Professor Susan St John contrasted the inclusiveness of the previous Family Benefit and the success it had in addressing poverty with the current design of the current working for families tax credits.

A Maori Perspective on Welfare - Dr Mamari Stephens
Dr Mamari Stephens from the Victoria University of Wellington's Faculty of Law critically reviews welfare approaches to Maori in her speech entitled: Maori, social security and whanau ora: 75 years of ambivalance.

No comments: