Tuesday 30 September 2014

“More than what I have learned about the operation of the benefit system
has been the absolute awareness and certainty that God counts every tear
that they have shed, that Christ walks with them every step of the long walk
through the bureaucracy, that the Spirit surrounds them with love and
compassion. Helping with the Benefit Impact feels not so much an act of
service as an act of worship”.
Lisa Beech, Caritas Advocacy and Research Manager, NZCCSS Council Member 

Building Human Capital Starts Young

One million New Zealanders gave the thumbs up to a third term National Government.  A result equalled only by 1 million New Zealanders who didn’t vote.  For the remaining competitors there were some crushing results and there will be much sole searching to come. Such is our adversarial system. One thing that did not change on Election night though was the deep concern of New Zealanders across the political spectrum about child poverty and inequality. 285,000 children live in poverty in New Zealand. 40% of these children have parents in work; the rest subsist on a benefit. Building human capital starts young as demonstrated in the Health Select Committee report Inquiry into improving child health outcomes and preventing child abuse with a focus from preconception until three years of age led by Dr Paul Hutchinson last year. The scientific evidence is irrefutable! So let’s start this new cycle of Government with a comprehensive, long-term strategy to eradicate child poverty and make New Zealand once again a great place to raise all of our children.

25% Less People Receiving Benefits New Target For Social Welfare Reforms

There is a new plan afoot to reduce the number of people receiving benefits by 25 percent by supporting people in to work. “Our aim is to bring benefit numbers down from 295,000 to 220,000 people over the next three years”.  The plan includes a range of new initiatives to support people into ‘meaningful jobs”. These initiatives include:

· offering incentive payments for beneficiaries who stay in work for a set period of time
· offering more childcare support by expanding the flexible childcare pilot
· making first-time Work and Income assessments more comprehensive so people are directed to the right sort of support from the very start.
· Exploring a trial where iwi administrator welfare payments to young people, similar to the Youth Service.
· Helping young people get driver’s licences.
· Expanding the successful $3k to Christchurch scheme to other regions needing energetic and motivated workers
· Investigating a regional Work Skills scheme to get young people on benefit working in the community.

While there may be merit in these initiatives a 25% reduction in people receiving benefit is no mean feat and is entirely dependent on the state of the economy over the coming years. As discussed in the latest Vulnerability Report increasing the size of the GDP pie does not necessarily equate to job growth [pg 11]. Technological innovations and the globalisation of work are changing the size and nature of work. As Colin James recently put it “We are in a different world from 20 years ago and probably a very different one from 20 years hence”.  The unemployment level is down to 5.6 %  but half of the job creation over the year to June 2014 has come from the Canterbury re-build, and 2.9% from wholesale trade industry and construction jobs in Auckland. The success of the welfare reforms is not only based on the motivation of those who are without work but also on the creation of secure, skilled employment across the whole of country and not only Auckland and Christchurch. So how about a target of 25% job creation around the regions instead!

Rental Housing Warrant of Fitness is no brainer as more people are locked out of home ownership

There is a vast array of medical evidence that supports the health benefits of introducing a rental housing warrant of fitness (WoF). We also know that this type of housing has become the default choice for a growing number of young people due to the inflated value of the New Zealand ‘housing market’. This evidence now sits alongside a shared rental WoF checklist that has been devised by five Councils. Professor Michael Baker, University of Otago, sees a lack of leadership as the missing piece to completing this housing puzzle. But what more is needed to influence government? The science-based evidence that supports positive health outcomes is there, the long-term economic savings on health expenditure is obvious, and more importantly the wider public who now realise their adult children may never own their own home can see the relevance of quality rental accommodation to replace the kiwi dream of home ownership.

More on housing…

New research by the University of Otago low cost home modifications prevent falls thereby reducing ACC claims for injuries from home falls. “Our findings suggest that an environmental health approach to injury prevention – focusing on making changes to the home environment rather than directly to change behaviour – will prevent an important proportion of deaths, suffering and cost from injury in New Zealand”. Read more about the Home Injury Prevention Intervention (HIPI) Study here.

ComVoices : State of the Sector Survey 2014 Snapshot

The results of ComVoices on the state of the NGO sector are out and the results ‘show an increasingly fragmented, under –resourced and over-worked community sector’. Here are the key findings in the survey:
· There were 311 responses in 8 days
· 75% have more work than 3 years ago — but fewer than 40% have more staff than 3 years ago
· More than 80% are doing more work than specified in contracts — 60% doing up to 25% extra, and 17% doing more than 50% extra
· There is huge frustration with both Government and philanthropic funding contracts and competitive funding models
· 40% were unable to offer any wage increases in the last 3 years
· 6% report they are facing closure in the short term, because of financial pressures
· 60% are not prepared to speak out publicly
· Community organisations are concerned that competitive funding models are changing the collaborative nature of the sector.

Communities Still Count

Trevor McGlinchey, Chief Executive, NZCCSS recent blog for Comvoices ‘Communities Still Count’ reminds us that NGO organisations need to work as a community to ensure government understands the full value of community organisations, as it introduces a programme of tight targeting of resources.

Social Justice in Communities

The countdown is on to the Social Justice in Communities Conference [23/24 October 2014].  Don’t miss a great opportunity to explore with us what social justice means and how it can be created and sustained in communities. 

Caritas Launches Small yet Strong – Voices of Oceania on the Environment – 4 October 2014.

Small yet strong in the love of God, like Saint Francis of Assisi, all of us, as Christians, are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its peoples.
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 2013

Cartas is set to launch the Pacific Environment Report on Saturday 4 October. The aim of the report is to give a voice to those affected by environmental changes in Oceania. It looks at how people are responding to those challenges and what solutions are needed New Zealand director Julianne Hickey says “This report raises community awareness of environmental issues and climate change in our region, and will help us promote sustainability of natural resources and advocate against environmental injustice to protect our world for present and future generations”. Find out more about the launch here.


[On hold pending start of Parliament]

Rewrite of the Social Security Act 1964

The end of 2015 was the original timeframe for introducing a Bill proposing the rewrite of the Social Security Act 1964, and given the election result, it’s likely this timeframe will remain. The policy rationale for the rewrite is to “make it easier to understand and better reflect modern welfare assistance in New Zealand”. It may be of relevance that item 2 in the Cabinet minute reads, “noted that a rewrite of the Act would mean that all aspects of the benefit system, including recent reforms, would be open for debate through the parliamentary process”. Does this suggest a simple administrative update? The Ministry of Social Development is leading the policy work and more information including the Cabinet Minute [CAB Min (13) 21/6] and Cabinet paper to the Social Policy Committee [20/6/2013] is available on the MSD website. NZCCSS will keep you posted on updates. 

What’s on:

The Human Rights Commission  reminds us use the International Day of the Older Person / to celebrate the contribution of our kaumatua and elders in our society as well as to ensuring that their wellbeing is protected and they are free from abuse and neglect. Let’s take time to say thank you to the thousands fantastic people working and volunteering in the churches’ social services supporting older people in their daily lives.

Responding to workforce ageing: Issues for government and for employers

Dr Judith Davey is giving a seminar at the New Zealand Productivity Commission on “Responding to workforce aging: Issues for government and for employers” on Thursday 2 October 2014, Level 15, Fujitsu Tower, 141 Terrace, 11am-12pm. For more information click here

Dementia: The Future is Now. Biennial Conference, Rotorua Convention Centre, 14-15 November 2014

The conference aims to showcase many exciting developments in research, prevention, support services and treatment options both in New Zealand and internationally.


Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) Newsletter

The Annual CHA General Meeting & Seminar will be held on Tuesday October 14, 2014 at St Johns in the City Conference Centre, Corner Willis & Dixon Streets, Wellington. Click here for more information and the latest CHA newsletter. 

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