Tuesday 21 October 2014

"Mā tāu rourou, me tāku rourou ka ora ai te iwi"
With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive

More advice from a lot of well-fed adults about a group of not so well-fed kids…

It’s hard to thrive when you’re feeling hungry particularly if you are a child but a group of well-fed Treasury adults advised the government [comprised of more well fed adults] that food in school programmes do not achieve ‘their intended outcomes’. It seems this advice was based on yet more advice from yet more well-fed adults based at Auckland University who found “New Zealand breakfast programme had no statistically significant effect on attendance and no effect on academic achievement or student conduct”.  NZ research Effects of a free school breakfast programme on children’s attendance, academic achievement and short term hunger. Not sure if the researchers actually asked children whether they liked the security of knowing food was available should they want it! Food insecurity means not knowing if it will be a ‘good’ day or a ‘bad’ day.

It’s all about the design, implementation and evaluation…..

Another well-fed adult Dr Russell Wills who also doubles as the current Children’s Commissioner and paediatrician has taken a broader position on the effectiveness of food in school programmes that included the voices of children. In relation to the NZ study, Dr Wills he says “the children participated in the programme only between 4 and 38% of days on average. Children who participated more experienced greater benefits” suggesting there might be a ‘minimal intensity level required for such a programme to be effective”. He agrees that “it is not a given that any programme would succeed. Careful design, implementation and evaluation are clearly important in this area”. In other words, there are benefits to food school programmes but we need to know more about what types of programmes are most effective.

Meanwhile, here’s what children say ......

  •  “It’s a good idea [providing food to hungry children in schools] because it helps and makes us feel like people care.”
  •  “There should be fruit in schools. Everyone should just get it so there is no shame.”
  •  “It’s a good idea [providing hungry children with food in schools] because they won’t be starving.”
  •  “Breakfast clubs – start your day with food in your stomach and energise. Have eating competitions. Have important people come. Make the breakfast club open to everyone so that there is no shame”. 
  •  “You could send each house in at different times and staff could participate. It would be important to make everyone feel welcome and that it is open to everyone. They shouldn’t have to ask.”
Hone Harawira’s Food in Schools Bill  sought to debate these very issues at the Select Committee Level. Without the Bill, and only the perspectives of well-fed adults, it now seems unlikely the uncomplicated truth that a small but significant number of New Zealand children go to school hungry at least some days and are filling up on cheap high carb foods and this is damaging to their health and education, will be nicely brushed under the official carpet. 

All well-fed adults needing a 

hearty lunch step over here please! 
Poor children not permitted. 

Related links:

Ministry of Health’s Food and Nutrition Guidelines
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child recommendion (46) 
The Provision of adequate nutritious food ( 46 (b) United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child recommendion (46)

Selling our Rangatahi Short

The Society of Youth Health Professionals Aotearoa New Zealand Conference  included a paper by Alan Johnson, Social Policy Analyst, Salvation Army (SPPU) on “Selling our Rangatahi Short”. The paper considers the extent to which there are biases at play in politics and policy-making that trade off the well-being of rangatahi to seek a voting advantage. Here’s a few facts taken from the paper .
  •  Around 1 in 3 older New Zealanders who receive superannuation have at least as much again from other sources such as savings, investments and employment. The likely cost of the government support given to this wealthier group of older people is $3.2billion a year.
  •  The number of the over-65s workforce has nearly doubled since the GFC in 2007.
  •  Between 30,000 and 40,000 15-19year olds were taken out of the workforce following GFC and these jobs have not returned.
  •  The budget that would fund training and second chance learning for unemployed and at-risk youth was cut during the recession and subsequent recovery. The recent increases in this budget reinstate the level of spending which is existed in 2007/08.
Read the full paper and be informed!

Taking ‘quality’ out of Early Childhood Education

A recent article ‘the rise and rise of corporate childcare’ is a reminder not all ECE services are equal and flash buildings and resources do not necessarily equate was ‘quality ECE’ [aka high child adult ratios and regular ‘quality’ social interactions]. Ministry of Education statistics confirm large corporate ECE’s have taken the lion share of the ECE enrolments where our children and grandchildren are most likely to reside for even longer periods of time. Here’s some quick facts from ECE data compiled by MoE: For-profit companies [62 %], kindergarten [17%], home-based support [9%], playcentres [7%] and Nga kohanga Reo [5%].

Related link:
CPAG:Early Childhood Care and Education

To Spend More Money or not to Spend More Money on Child Poverty is the Question?

The Government and officials say ‘no’; money is only one part of the story. Child advocates and those working with families say ‘yes’; money and household income is a central part of the story for a large number of struggling families. The children of people on benefits represent a significant group of children official recognised as living in poverty. Child Poverty Action Group Associate Professor Susan St John says “government will not significantly reduce child poverty without raising the inadequate incomes of beneficiaries with children. The In Work Tax Credit is the most cost effective, immediate way to do this”.

New Research Shows Living Wage is transforming Workplaces

Forget claims that implementing the living wage will result in job losses and insolvency says new research presented at the NZ Population Health Congress in Auckland.  The research demonstrates paying workers a decent wage is good for the employees and good for the employer. Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ be a member National Convenor Annie Newman says “Valuing workers by paying them more also meant employers focussed on investing in their precious resource to ensure they enhanced productivity in their business and this is good for our whole economy”.

The Difference a Living Wage Makes - Paper to Population Health Congress 2014

More on the living wage ….

Study aims to find human impact of living wage

Massey University’s has launched the Waging Well survey which will look at what a living wage means for workers. This is the last phase of a three phase project which included consultation with employers, government, unions and community organisations. Project co-Director Jane Parker says “…The Waging Well Survey will shed light on how a living wage impacts on people at a personal level by comparing those who do earn one to those who don’t” The Waging Well survey takes only five minutes to complete and can be accessed online at http://bit.ly/waging-well. The survey will be open until midnight of 31 October.

Keep Child Poverty on National Agenda Says the Anglican Bishops

“The bishops of the church have signalled their intention, post the election, to do their bit to keep child poverty high on the national agenda”. In the run-up to September’s General Election, the archbishops published an open letter in which they suggested some principles for voting, and named child poverty as their first concern along with income inequality and lack of affordable housing - We can't forget. Archbishop Philip Richardson said today that there’s a need to maintain and build momentum on the issue of child poverty. A new resource launched today is part of keeping that focus on child poverty. Find out more here


The Latest on Social Housing from Bill English.  Simon Collins interview with Bill English on Social Housing sheds light on where the government is heading and building more social housing doesn't feature at all! Read more here

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA)

There’s a lot going on in the social housing space. To keep up with the latest news check out the CHA newsletter, which includes information on the housing portfolio reshuffle and social housing provision restructure, Veda’s report on generation Y giving up the kiwi dream of home-owning, and World Homeless Day (10 October 2014).

October 10 World Homeless Day

October 10th marked World Homeless Day and although New Zealand has a population of only 4 million, homelessness has not escaped this fair land. Around the country there have been many events to mark the injustice of homelessness and the impact it has on individuals and families. The Salvation Army’s ran teams of people around the country sleeping out rough for 14 hours to raise funds and to inform people about homelessness looks like today. “The community who are more commonly thought of as homeless, those sleeping rough on the streets, represent only 20% of those now affected”. Today homelessness “..includes people who live in unsafe and unsuitable location such as garages, sheds, tents, caravans, couch surfing, or sharing a house with other families”.

The Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust : Recognising a hidden group of homeless women

“Supporting single homeless women return to a resilient phase of their lives” is at the heart of the work of the Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust. The Trust provides temporary accommodation, and wrap around services to single-women in need of support and care. Good things take time and the Trust, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, was four years in gestation. Its foundling seed was planted by a number or Women's Religious Orders,  who responded to a call to help a homeless women and found there were no accommodation facilities available in Wellington. The seed was tended by a first-time collaboration between : Sisters from Sisters of Mercy,
Compassion Sisters and Calvary Sisters and the Newtown Lay leader, who scoped the need for a response, and by a range of good Samaritans that included Maori Women's Refuge, Women's Refuge and Capital Coast Health Board and women who were committed to providing access to accommodation for women with little hope in their lives. Sr Marcellin says “The women we see in many cases have often escaped violent or mentally harmful relationships, leaving behind all their belongings, and there is a great deal of trauma to work through”. The women at the Trust are offered individual help to achieve some of their own goals, to access available support services and to transition into more permanent housing. “It is the beatitudes that guide all that we do at the Trust”. All of this highly skilled work is undertaken by an experienced House Manager. Find out more about this worthwhile work in the Capital , and about how you can help to grow this good work into a sustainable orchard.

New reporting standards update seminars for registered charities

The External Reporting Board (XRB) in conjunction with DIA Charities Services is holding seminars to update registered charities on the new accounting requirements that become mandatory in 2015. For more information about dates and venues go click here and go to Seminars

Sole parents on benefits drop to record level but what does this data really tell us?

New figures released by MSD show the numbers of sole parents on a benefit have dropped by 8.9% (7110) in the year to September 2014. However, all may not be as it seems. Karen Pattie of the Beneficiaries Advocacy and Information Service said “the reduction was partly due to tough sanctions on beneficiaries. I have quite a few sole parents who have been sanctioned for various reasons. At that point they would be off the benefit”. This data also raises a range of questions around whether a reduction of sole parents on a benefit means the same as sole parents moving into paid work or are these women just lost out of the system? NZCCSS will have more to say on this new MSD data in the December 2014 Vulnerability report.

A Culture of Trust Needed to Repair Damage of Recent Events

Given the recent tragedy involving Work and Income staff the introduction of increasingly tight security appears to have been inevitable. Security guards and photo identification checks are being introduced at Work and income sites across New Zealand. For those barely able to pay basic costs, it’s unclear how the cost of photo identification will be covered. Island Child Charitable Trust says “The cost is high for a single person and there’s a 10 day processing delay. Imagine if you’re trying to sort out money for that week and can’t “. Money aside, trust lies at the heart of all relationships and at all levels including the relationship between citizens and the state and its representatives. Regenerating trust is what is needed to repair the damage of recent events, and faith in the majority doing the right thing, not creating a culture of distrust and heightened tension.

Social Services Inquiry Update: Consultation Timeframe Extended


The New Zealand Productivity Commission published an issues paper More Effective Social Services for the inquiry on 7 October. There has been a lot of interest from the social services sector in the paper and we are expecting a high number of submissions. Over the next 2 months, the Commission will be attending a number of conferences and meetings as well as visiting different regions to conduct research for the inquiry case studies. To give the sector more time to consider the issues and make submissions, the closing date for submissions has been extended until Tuesday 2 December.

What’s On:

Housing needs of vulnerable populations - October 21

This event will include a keynote by Vicki McLaren, Manager City Housing, Wellington City Council, in addition to an interactive workshop session.

University of Auckland – One day seminar
Tuesday 21st October 2014, 10.00am – 2.30pm
Venue: Wellington Railway Station West Wing Room, 129 Victoria University of Wellington
Find out more here.

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