Monday 16 February 2015

‘The test of any social contract is the plight of the poorest, so we judge social policy not by its cost but by its impact on the poor, needy and marginalised”.
Sir Paul Reeves, Commemoration of the Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Okains Bay,
6 February 1988

175 years anniversary of signing the Treaty

The 6th February marked the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty, and New Zealanders far and wide celebrated this historic event, and its continued importance in our lives today. Here are a few highlights:
  •  Maori television put together a montage of some of the events at Waitangi 
  •  The Governor-General Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mataparae gave an inspiring Waitangi Speech. Listen to it here 

NZCCSS 20th Vulnerability Report

NZCCSS has released the 20th Vulnerability Report  The report highlights the desperate housing situations that for some New Zealanders has become the new normal. As Trevor McGlinchey, Executive Officer, says “The situation is most stark when trying to find emergency housing for women and children. Some of the only available alternatives are unsafe boarding houses or supporting families to continue to live in their cars…. Our members are in danger of being overwhelmed by and unable to respond to this ongoing housing crisis. Read the full media release here

A Mountain All Can Climb: The Latest State of the Nation Report

The Salvation Army has released its eighth annual State of the Nation Report  drawing on Sir Edmund Hilary mountaineering achievement to inspire us to collectively climb a mountain that will ensure all New Zealand have a fair go. The changes in key social indicators during 2014 reflect a mix bag of social progress. Here are some key points from the report.
  • Houses built in Auckland and Christchurch are not affordable to low income families and this is leading to overcrowding and declining health.
  • Auckland’s housing deficit grew by a further 4000 dwellings during the year to 30 September 2014. New builds have not kept up with population growth.
  • There has been little progress in NCEA grades for children at lower decile schools. The gap between students from decile 1-3 and 8-10 schools leaving with NCEA Level 2 or better has only changed by 0.2% (24.5%).
  • Children at risk (Number of substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect) is down 15% (to 19, 623) but
  • Children and violence (number of offences against children for violence mistreatment or neglect) is up 3.5% to 5,397. 
  • Child poverty (percentage of children living in benefit dependent households is down 2% to 17%. However the report calls for more research to evaluate whether the 10,000 parents that have moved from benefits to work has actually lifted their children out of poverty.
Here are some links to commentary about the State of the Nation Report:

UNICEF NZ National Advocacy Manager, Deborah Morris-Travers response to the Report calls for a more strategy approach to government’s response to child poverty and more data on what has happened to the 10,000 families (mostly sole mothers) who have been ‘moved off benefits”.

CPAG’s Social Security Spokesperson, Mike O’Brien response to the report calls for more to be done to address the structural causes of child poverty. “A genuine safety net is needed to protect families and children during difficult times with a well-designed welfare and family tax credit system.”

The Journal also provided a good overview on the report.

More from the Salvation Army……

Alan Johnson, Social Policy Analyst, The Salvation Army Social Policy & Parliamentary Unit, and author of the State of the Nation Reports, has also prepared an excellent paper, Recent Wealth and Income Trends in New Zealand, for the University of Otago, Wellington School of Medicine Summer School. Well worth a read.

When is a ‘major risk’ not a risk?

Debate on New Zealand’s housing crisis has turned to ‘financial risk’ when recently released Treasury papers identified ‘3 ‘major risks’ to the Government’s Social Housing Reform Programme:
  • a) ensuring that Community Housing Providers (CHP) are financially sustainable as they expand their coverage. If one of them were to become financially distressed, this could present risks to ongoing tendencies and fiscal risks to the Crown”
  • b) “ensuring that regulatory arrangements prevent unacceptable treatment of tenants”. [
  • c) ensuring that communications with existing tenants enable them to understand any planned changes. 
Some aren’t too worried though; identifying risk is just what Treasury does… she’ll be right!

If you want to read the Cabinet papers/minutes on the Government’s Social Housing Reform Programme, go to the Ministry of Social development website.

Meanwhile, the Treasury is busy planning a raft of public consultations on the process for state-house transfers. Go to the treasury site to find out more about these public meetings and about the process for submitting an interest in ‘acquiring or redeveloping state houses for social-housing purposes’.

Government capital needed to bring state houses up to acceptable levels.

A recent article by Simon Collins highlights that Salvation Army, who are often referred to as potential buyers of state housing by Government, have some caveats of their own before supporting the Government Social Housing Programme, namely government capital to either get the stock up to a reasonable living standard or sell at a low price. The Salvation Army also wants to see ‘genuine local community organisations part-governed by the tenants themselves’. Another social housing provider (Vision West) and President of NZCCSS, Lisa Woolley, also expresses concerned about the financial sustainability of community organisations wanting to purchase state houses without government support. “We don’t have huge bank balances, so there still needs to become way of funding the community housing sector to grow ..because the bottom line is we have to have more social housing”. Read the full article here 

The housing crisis impacting on older people

The important role of local authorities in providing affordable rental housing for low income older people comes through very clearly in the stocktake of local authority and community housing provision prepared by researchers CRESA for Community Housing Aotearoa. The report on local government stock notes that 95% of councils target their housing at older people or older people with some other vulnerable group. As several councils such as Hamilton  and Whakatane  put their social housing up for sale, the future of secure and affordable tenancies for low income older people is in doubt. Perhaps councils should be taking a broader view? Some interesting thoughts about “seniors friendly communities” in this opinion piece from Australia that offer ideas for the future in this country as well

Since when did “Not enough” become ‘enough’ ?

According to a new report from Superu .”going without so the kids and my husband can eat”, I’ve taught myself not to want things and I go by what we need, are signs of having ‘enough’ to live on. It can only be assumed the baseline for ‘enough’ has shifted rather low. The Superu report “Perceptions of income adequacy in low income families”, draws on data from Household Economic Survey (HES) on perception of income adequacy. The full report provides more insights than the factsheets but both documents conclude Many low income New Zealand families report that their income meets their everyday needs. This statement goes against the high rates of material hardship our members report. When we unpick the data in the full report we find that only 20% of low income families ($22,000 and 55,000) self-reported their income is ‘enough’. This means 80% of low income families don’t have enough. At the end of the day NZCCSS’ view is that household income remains the most critical factor that determines whether or not a family has ‘not enough’ or ‘enough’ to get by and clever semantics and glossy publications won’t change this.

Building up to Budget 2015

It doesn’t seem five minutes since the last one, but Budget 2015 will be announced on Thursday 21 May, and advocacy for those amongst us who are most- in- need of resources has already begun.

Caritas has prepared a written submission to Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, raising concerns that reducing expenditure by $1 billion per year for the next two years will limit the Government’s ability to respond to the needs of vulnerable children and their families. Read the full submission here.

CPAG also prepared a submission to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee. In their submissions, CPAG raised concerns about addressing child poverty by simply moving financial support from one group of low income children to another group. Read the full submission here 

Another lens on the Productivity Commission Work

Never short of good ideas, Public Good Aotearoa has provided 3 alternative areas of focus for the Productivity Commission [Ineffective use of technology, Positioning of our dairy products, Structure of the electricity industry]. These suggested areas are seen to be far better candidates for increasing New Zealand’s productivity than simply reviewing the social service sector from the perspective of a ‘market for social care’.

The Philanthropy Summit 2015: Understanding the 21st Century Donor

Philanthropy New Zealand invites all not-for-profit organisations to attend The Philanthropy Summit 2015: Understanding the 21st Century donor, being held in Auckland on 17 April.

This one-day event is a unique opportunity to network with some of New Zealand's leading grantmakers and the wider not-for-profit community. It will offer insights into how and why grantmakers decide who to fund. Plus you'll learn about the latest trends in grantmaking, and what you can do to ensure your application keeps rising to the top of the pile. Find out more and register online.

ComVoices Blogs

Relationship Work is Important by Ros Rice, Executive Officer, Community Networks Aotearoa

Community is the Answer: What’s the Question? by Tara D’Sousa, National manager Social Service Providers Aotearoa Inc.

Governance and management – Doing it our way by Peter Glensor, General Manager Kaiwhakahaere Matua Hui E ! Community Aotearoa

What Works: Community Research

Funders and communities are expecting more information and evidence about the impact of community services and initiatives. Based on a call from the sector, Community Research is developing a new website that will feature the tools, approaches and resources to help community groups know what, if any, difference they are making.

In addition, Community Research is looking for a handful of special individuals and community groups willing to share their insights and experience in monitoring the difference they are making. If you're interested please complete the brief form here

Update on Equal Pay Case

An article in the latest Aged-Care and Retirement InSite Magazine is rife with speculation about how the equal pay case could play out in legislation.


Local Government Funding review

The purpose of Local Government Funding Review is to review the future adequacy of existing funding sources available to local government. Feedback is due 27 March 2015.

What’s On:

Celebrating Age: Act Locally, Think Globally. Age Concern Conference April 21 and 22

Stepping through Transitions workshop programme for 2015

SSPA members Meeting 25 February 2015

SSPA Wellington MEMBERS MEETING is on 25 Feb 2015. Find out about the Approved Information Sharing Agreements (AISA) and how it will affect your work Guest Speaker - David Clarke, AISA Project Manager, Children’s Action Plan Directorate. Wesley Where: Epworth House, 75 Taranaki St (behind the Wesley Church). When: 3.00 - 5.00pm, 25 February. Please RSVP to 

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