Wednesday 6 April 2011

Policy Watch

Family violence- giving with one hand, taking with the other?

Last Policy Watch suggested money could be about to be reallocated from the ‘It’s not OK Campaign’ to the Whānau Ora Programme. Concerned Anglican Archbishops, supported by the Anglican Social Justice Commission delivered a statement at a short service on the steps of Wellington Cathedral. They declared the Anglican “church is committed to pursuing and supporting an end to family violence [and] … believe it is crucial to provide both social and spiritual support for the family in order to bring about whānau ora, or family wellbeing …. NZCCSS congratulates the Archbishops, supports their call for the programmes to be evaluated prior to any funding decision, and notes how the Te Rito and Child advocate programmes have been at the forefront of improved collaboration between NGOs and government departments. Jigsaw, Waves Trust and UNICEF also protested at the possible withdrawal of the child advocate funding, particularly given New Zealand’s ‘staggering’ rates of violence.

Last Friday, Hon.Tariana Turia, announced Government will reorganise a portion of its current funding for family violence into five initiatives. Gone is the funding for Te Rito Collaborative Community Family Violence Prevention Fund - which provided funding for 32 community-based family violence networks. Gone also is the Advocates for Children and Young People Who Witness Family Violence programme. However, these services can apply to an expanded Family-Centred Services Fund for funding if they fit certain criteria.

Family Start reorganisation

Also being reorganised is the $29 million Family Start programme. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is concerned the programme needs a better focus on outcomes for children.

Income Sharing Bill to proceed

Lastly on the family front, the Finance and Expenditure Committee has recommended the Taxation (Income-sharing Tax Credit) Bill proceed. The Bill provides for couples with dependent children to be assessed for tax according to household income as opposed to individual income as is currently the case. This is despite the fiscal cost of the bill being estimated as $502 million, and its provisions favouring high income earners. See NZCCSS submission.

What if all our policies were put through a child-friendly lens?

For starters, we would ensure we supported parents and/ or extended family to look after our youngest citizens with excellent parental leave and child care provisions. We would ensure under 2 year olds at childcare services had a high ratio of qualified staff per child. See the Children’s Commissioner’s report: Through their lens: An inquiry into non-parental education and care of infants and toddlers.

We would value our parents and the work they do and not produce recommendations for welfare reform where “paid work" is mentioned 242 times but "unpaid work" does not appear once. We would value parents as nurturers caring for the next generation of New Zealanders, rather than merely either paid workers or "jobseekers."

Then our social services might be less likely to report having to deal with angry young people, and youth unemployment . Youth unemployment might be less of an unaddressed disgrace.

We might also ensure our earthquake recovery had our children’s needs at heart and consider reinstituting ReStart which allowed families to continue to qualify for up to 16 weeks of the full Working for Families assistance when they were made redundant from their jobs. Redundancies or reduced working hours in Christchurch for low income families thrown onto the welfare system result in them losing $60 or more a week of Working for Families for their children.

We would do our best to ensure our children were not living in poverty, the problems of which were recently also spelled out by our children’s commissioner. We would consider the impact on the children of 1 in 20 government jobs being cut, and 3,877 so far confirmed out of work in Canterbury. We would do better at ensuring our citizens had a reasonable level of empathy with one another by ensuring greater income equity. We would avoid the situation where the new Canterbury Earthquake Fix it Chief is receiving minimum over 25 times the weekly gross income ($9,519.00) of an unemployed Cantabrian (married / civil union with or without children- $375.04). Fix it Chief will get a minimum 50 times the weekly gross income of an unemployed Cantabrian aged 20-24 and single.

Somewhere along the line, it’s like we just don’t get it. The idea that we really all do occupy the same waka, and we do best if all the people in the waka are doing ok. Japan looks like they are doing better at ‘getting it’. Their corporates are advocating Government scraps a planned 5% cut in their corporate tax rate to help pay the cost of their recent disaster. Even though their corporate tax rate is around 40%.

The Puritans were right: work is good for you

The Welfare Reform Recommendations have said so, now the Royal Australasian College of Physicians is saying so in their consensus statement on Health Benefits of Work. Work is good for our health and injured people out of the workforce are more likely to have higher than average rates of depression and suicide, and will potentially live shorter lives. But any old work won’t do. Work practices, workplace culture, injury management programmes and relationships within workplaces influence are also important. Signatories include The CTU, Employers and Manufacturers’ Association, ACC and Department of Labour. The New Zealand Medical Association supports the consensus statement but is disappointed some types of non-paid work were not properly acknowledged as also having an overall beneficial effect on people. "The NZMA recognises that there are many situations in which non-paid employment has a beneficial effect on individuals, families and societies. This includes, but is not limited to, at-home parenting and care of unwell or disabled family members."

So why are we reducing employment conditions?

Wage and salary earners starting a new job can now face a 90 day no-rights trial period, which means an employer does not have to give any reasons for dismissal and a worker cannot challenge the decision. Union representatives also have to seek permission from employers for access to workplaces – even if health and safety is at stake, and employers can require a medical certificate after just one day's illness. More .

Inquiry into house prices

Housing affordability will be one of the first two enquiries by Government’s new Productivity Commission. Government is concerned about large increases in household debt arising from reduced housing affordability and reduced home ownership rates. More

In brief:

Sleepovers - Government has agreed to work with stakeholders and unions to try to find a solution around the decision that disability support workers being paid for “sleepovers”

Let’s eat with our elders - Sharing meals with older people is a really good idea People, especially widowers, aged 75-85 are at risk of malnutrition. Older people living alone do better if they get a proper meal via someone coming and cooking for them, having to cook for someone else or being invited out for a meal. Those at least risk nutritionally tended to engage in more physical activity, had better muscle mass and strength, and drank alcohol at least twice a week. They were probably more social.

What’s on

The Insatiable Moon : This delightful film explores the complexities of living with mental illness with a fine mix of humour, compassion and an openness to the mysteries of life. Closing down the sometimes notorious mental health institutions in the 1980s & 90s meant that many people with mental health problems ended up on the streets or in the boarding houses, such as the one portrayed in the film. Film makers Mike and Rose Riddell are releasing the film on DVD in the lead up to Easter  and they hope that social services, churches and others in the community will see this film as a way to better understand mental health problems and to look at how we respond to them. Go to the website to find out more:

2011 Community Economic Development Conference, April at the Trusts Stadium Waitakere, Auckland. The theme of the conference is Making it happen: from possibility to profitability and will feature a host of leading practitioners from New Zealand and overseas. Register here.

Cognitive Behavioural Interventions with Kids and Families A two day intensive training programme in CBT providing participants with opportunities to practice and refine the techniques central to the approach. Register here

Progressing Social Enterprise in New Zealand – a collaborative effort of NZFVWO, ANGOA and OCVS to examine progressing social enterprise in New Zealand and what government can do to help. Guest speaker is Hugh Rolo, Head of Assets and Investment at the Development Trusts Association in UK. Thursday 28 April 2011 9.30am–midday: St John’s Conference Centre (Corner Willis and Dixon Streets). RSVP by 26 April 2011 by email to . Enquiries: phone Tina Reid (04) 385 0981 or or

Certificate in Pastoral Care of Ageing People. A course which focuses on the spiritual and pastoral care of the elders of our communities.

Mandatory social worker registration? The Social Workers’ Registration Board wants feedback by 1 July 2011.


Christchurch NGO and Community Updater provides a single place for Christchurch community organisations and NGOs to keep each other up to date. It can be used to let other organisations know where to contact you, what services you are currently offering and what support you need in order to improve your ability to operate. Or use it as an opportunity to contact colleagues working in the community and social services support area in Christchurch.

Canterbury earthquake information can be found here

SKIP earthquake resources here

SKIP earthquake and other trauma here

Canterbury earthquake community response fund info here

Lost your IT kit in the earthquake or can't get access to your existing equipment? TechSoup is helping rebuild Christchurch by supplying not-for –profits with donations of computers, printers, mobile phones and networking equipment. Contact Remarkit solutions on 04 9121020 or email

Doorways Housing magazine -Community Housing Aotearoa’ s new publication.

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