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Kia ora koutou katoa, and welcome to Child Poverty Action Group New Zealand's regular round-up of our news and views.
In this issue
Invite:Summit Investing in Children
Invite: Child poverty and social justice
Park up for Homes
Fix Working For Families Campaign
Annual General Meeting
Laybying our future report
Kathyrn's Story report
CPAG blog update
CPAG news update
The Ballot Box event
CPAG summit Investing in Children
CPAG is looking forward to co- hosting the 2016 Summit Investing in children with the Retirement Policy and Research Centre (RPRC) on Friday 2 September.
This Summit builds on Summit 2015 Welfare fit for families in a changing world.
For more than two decades, the primary focus of governments in New Zealand has been (paid work) workfare, not welfare. Welfare itself has become ever more targeted, especially under the social investment approach.
Some presenters at the 2016 Summit will speak to their own experiences of the Government's social investment approach, while others will suggest alternative investment approaches that would genuinely put children at the centre.
We hope to see you there!
When: 2 September 2016, 9.30am - 4.30 pm Followed by networking and refreshments
Where: The University of Auckland Business School, Lecture Theatre OGGB5, Level 0, Owen G Glenn Building
Please visit the RPRC page for more detailed information about the summit and to register.
Child poverty and social justice: not all are equal in NZ
The evening will provide an opportunity to discuss benefit fraud and the effects on families and children in poverty. Including a presentation about Kathryn's Story the story of a chronically-ill beneficiary mother convicted and jailed for benefit fraud despite maintaining her innocence.
The presentation will be followed by research findings around different treatments in the justice system between tax evasion and welfare fraud.
Catriona MacLennan: Author of Kathryn's Story. She is a barrister, journalist and social activist with extensive experience in benefit law, credit and loan sharks and domestic violence.
Lisa Marriott: Associate Professor of Taxation at Victoria University of Wellington's School of Accounting and Commercial Law.
When: Wednesday September 21, 2016 from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
Where: Mezzanine MZ 05 and 06, Rutherford House, Victoria University of Wellington Pipitea Campus, Wellington
Park up for homes
Everyone deserves a home
The #ParkUpForHomes protests will be drawing to a close over the next week, with a final Auckland event on Thursday 25 August in Parnell and another event in Palmerston North on 2 September.
The eight events in Mangere, Hamilton, Wellington, Henderson, Onehunga, Otara, Napier and Parnell have provided a greater awareness to the public of the severity of the housing crisis and the true extent at which many families and children are forced to live in cars, garages and other unsafe housing.
CPAG and Park Up For Homes are hoping this movement will contribute to a change in focus by the Government, that they will have a effective response to the growing housing crisis and provide adequate long-term measures to create a better safety net for the most vulnerable, instead of applying Band-Aid measures.
Fix Working for Families
CPAG is working towards launching Part Two of the Fix Working For Families #FWFF campaign. This second phase of the campaign will have a dedicated focus on low-income working families and the ways in which Working for families (WFF) is failing them through policies that cause payments to erode over time.
The six-part campaign will run up until the election 2017. #FWFF is the result of 10 years of evidence-based research that has shown that Working for Families is not meeting its fundamental purpose (to support families with the extra costs of raising children) for the families who need the most help. Because of this failure WFF has had little impact on the poverty rates for children in workless households.
We have now summarised the first part of the campaign into a FWFF Campaign Part One Summary document. Part One concentrated on very-low income families, arguing that WFF discriminates against around 230,000 of New Zealand's poorest children in workless households as their poverty rates are consistently several times higher than for children in working households.The second part will look into parents in paid work and the Indexation rules, income threshold levels and abatement rates that are imposed on WFF payments.
Keep checking the website for the latest updates on the campaign
Laybying our future:The State of Student Hardship in New Zealand
On 3 August, CPAG held a successful report launch for Laybying our future: The state of student hardship in New Zealand at the University of Auckland Business school.
While the primary focus of Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is on children under 18 who are living below the poverty line, we know that childhood poverty can have an effect on educational outcomes in later life, and can impact upon those who strive to obtain higher qualifications. Some tertiary students are also parents of young children, so it is important to consider how a range of student groups can be disadvantaged by current policies. Laybying our future: The state of student hardship in New Zealand is written by Master's student Max Lin, and takes a look at the challenges faced by tertiary students today.
The speakers at the event included Max Lim, Julie Timmins and a panel of guest speakers including Labour MP Jenny Salsea, Green MP Gareth Hughes, former student Sian Roberston and Linsey Higgins President of NZUSA.
On 1 July CPAG launched Kathryn's Story: How the Government spent well over $100,000 and 15 years pursuing a chronically-ill beneficiary mother for a debt she should not have at the Auckland Women's Centre in Grey Lynn. The report is a powerful account of the detrimental and unjustified treatment of one woman by the justice and welfare systems. The result is an unfair and ongoing persecution for trying to provide the best care for her children. Her charges are based on the welfare system's outdated definition of "relationship" and highlight the long-term suffering she and her vulnerable children have experienced.
Speakers included CPAG economic spokesperson Associate Professor Susan St John, Auckland Women's Centre Manager Leonie Morris and author of Kathryn's Story, Catriona MacLennan.
The event had an excellent turn-out by supporters who contributed valuable discussion about the flaws in New Zealand's social security.
Annual General Meeting
CPAG held its 18th AGM on Wednesday 27 July 2016. The AGM was followed by a very special guest speaker, Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft recently seconded to the position for two years from his position as Principal Youth Court Judge.
The AGM reflected on all that's happened over the 2015-16 year. During this time we have seen a great shift in attitudes and the steady realisation from the public, followed by the Government, that unaffordable, poor quality housing as well as inadequate incomes are contributing factors to increasing poverty. This was manifest in the announcement of the $25 increase to benefits in the 2015 budget (implemented this year in April) and a continued focus on improvements to the regulation of housing quality, as well as attention to emergency housing in recent housing policy announcements.
If you were unable to attend but you would like to hear more about how it went, head over to the event page where you can also find the slides from Judge Becrofts talk.
See our annual report for a summary of our activities for the 2015/2016 year
CPAG Blog update
Latest posts June - August
20 June Whats up with housing but also whats up with incomes Jeni Cartwright
With all the attention to the housing crisis in the media, the problem of inadequate incomes has been brushed under the carpet - despite unprecedented numbers of families needing help from food parcel providers. Working for Families (WFF) is being steadily eroded reducing Government costs, and as expenses rise, purchasing power of low income families for basic necessities goes down. Why don't we increase WFF each year, the same way the Government increases NZ Super? We support the elderly adequately; why not the young?
29 June Australia could teach us a lesson in family tax credits Susan St John
Susan discusses a background paper written exclusively for CPAG by two Australian experts, that compares the Australian and New Zealand family tax credit system. The paper suggests we have much learn from Australia's family tax credit system, which is similar to our Working for Families but more generous, less complex, and far more effective in meeting need.
04 July A $1 billion fund to subsidise speculators Alan Johnson
Alan's blog on the Government's announcement of a $1 billion infrastructure fund as a response to the growing housing shortage. The idea is that Government borrows money for the market and on-lends it, at no interest, to qualifying councils who will in turn use it to supply infrastructure to undeveloped land which has been zoned for new housing. But unfortunately and as predicted it won't provide any affordable housing for those who most need it now.
01 August All jobs are not created equal Jeni Cartwright
As the Government congratulates itself for another fall in the number of people on benefits, CPAG asks the question: "Who is making sure these people are actually moving into meaningful paid work and better financial situations?" We are seeing a rise in the numbers families with children who are living in cars and garages, and added strain imposed on charities who are relied upon for the shortfall.There is agreement among welfare experts that increasingly New Zealand's most desperate citizens are "opting out" of the state welfare system due to its complex administration requirements and hardline approach.
23 August Mums need to be supported, not punished Leonie Morris - Auckland Women's Centre.
The kaupapa of Auckland Women's Centre is to facilitate the wellbeing and empowerment of women, especially beneficiaries and other women on low-incomes. They work alongside other organisations that share this kaupapa and recently hosted CPAG's report launch of Kathryn's Story. In this blog Leonie shares some of the real perspectives from single mothers who want nothing more but to give their children the best possible outcomes.
CPAG news update
Latest media releases June - August
The Ballot Box event - 30 August
Auckland: The Inclusive City with Susan St John and Alan Johnson
Until the mid-1980s New Zealand was considered one of the most egalitarian societies in the world. Over the past two decades this has changed dramatically.
Facilitated by Rod Oram, the panel will discuss the extent of inequality in Auckland, how the social and economic impact of inequality threatens the city's future prospects, and what can be done.
Tuesday 30 August Time:6-8pm
Venue:The University of Auckland Business School, Rm OGGB4, Level 0, Owen G Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road
Shamubeel Eaqub: Independent economist, author and media commentator
Rangimarie Hunia: Director, Whai Rawa Limited, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei
Hon Associate Professor Susan St John: Director of the Retirement Policy and Research Centre, University of Auckland Business School
Alan Johnson: Social policy analyst, The Salvation Army
Acknowledgement of a founding CPAG member
Joan Macdonald died peacefully on Friday, 12 August.
We acknowledge Joan as a founding member of CPAG and her encouragement and enduring support for the group and its kaupapa. As a former Plunket nurse she had deep empathy for children and their needs.
CPAG endorses the tribute by her friends in WILPF ( Women's International for Peace and Freedom) - quoted here " Joan worked tirelessly for Peace Movement Aotearoa, WILPF Aotearoa, Corso, the Treaty People network, Tamaki Treaty Workers, Asia-Pacific Human Rights Coalition, and Auckland Human Rights Network, as well as the many other organisations.
Until only recently Joan worked unrelentingly for peace and justice in so many ways over so many years - promoting peaceful resolution of conflict, the Te Tiriti O Waitangi and Treaty education, women's rights, social justice, demilitarisation, decolonisation and human rights both here in Aotearoa and throughout the Pacific, with a particular interest in Bougainville and West Papua; supporting alternatives to incarcerating women in prison; and opposing racism and violence in all its forms.
Energetic, thoughtful, and caring, with a great sense of humour and keen intellect, Joan was, and remains, an inspiration to everyone whose life she touched. It was always a pleasure to have time with Joan, to enjoy her lively conversation on a wide range of topics, her wit and her ready smile, and to witness her kindness, generosity and willingness to help anyone who needed support. We will miss her very much, and our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time".