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July Newsletter

Kia ora koutou katoa, and welcome to Child Poverty Action Group New Zealand's July 2018 newsletter.

He kai tahu me kikini, he kai tahu me tīhore, mā te tamaiti te iho

In This Issue

Annual General Meeting & Guest Speaker 25 July

CPAG Summit 12 September

Submission: Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addictions

Welfare fit for families - upcoming CPAG campaign

Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights

Policy News

CPAG Blog update


Keeping up with the regional Join the conversation on FB & Twitter

25 July - Annual General Meeting & Guest Speaker Len Cook

We would love for our supporters and members to join us for CPAG's 2018 Annual General Meeting.The AGM is a wonderful chance to reflect on the previous year and what each and every one of you have helped us achieve. This will be followed by a presentation by CPAG's guest speaker, Len Cook, former Families Commissioner and Government Statistician.

When: Wednesday, July 25, 2018. AGM at 6:30pm and Guest Speaker at 7:30pm

Where: Saint Columba Centre, 40 Vermont St, Ponsonby, Auckland

Contact: Celia Hayes on 09 302 5260 or email

RSVP here

Poverty indicators - Insights, limits and opportunities

Hear from Len Cook about how we can ensure this and future governments will maintain a commitment to making Aotearoa-New Zealand a better place for low-income families raising children. Len's commentary will include a discussion of the limits to performance indicators when framing and directing government actions in the context of the levers planned to prevent and reduce poverty.

12 September - "Rethinking the Welfare System for the 21st Century" CPAG Summit

With welfare reform a key focus for the current Government, there is a unique opportunity for concerned parties to influence the scope and breadth of changes needed. The purpose of the Summit - Rethinking the Welfare System for the 21st Century is to impact the reform agenda by increasing awareness and knowledge, especially among policy makers, about the chronic problems and the developments that will improve the welfare system so that it works much better for families and children. We look forward to the hearing from the summit speakers who will provide a wide range of perspectives on what an effective welfare system should look like to meet our modern day needs, and ensure all children in Aotearoa-New Zealand grow up thriving.

Date: 12 September 2018

Time: 8:30am - 4:45pm - followed by networking and refreshments

Venue: Otago University, Nordmeyer Lecture Theatre, 23 Mein St, Newtown, Wellington

Cost: $30 Unwaged, $65 Waged

For more information please click here or email:

Celia Hayes

Register here

Speakers include: Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw, Honorary Associate Professor Susan St John, Dr Michael Fletcher, Dr Hirini Kaa, David Hanna, Dr Bill Rosenberg, Alan Johnson, Sam Orchard, Dr Amanda D'Souza and Associate Professor Mike O’Brien.

Full programme to follow

Submission: Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addictions

In a submission to the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addictions, CPAG noted that there is a strong relationship between child and family poverty and adverse mental health outcomes, which may have life-long impacts for children. The damages to children's mental health as a result of poverty can occur from as early as the antenatal period and CPAG said in its submission that any approach to improving mental health outcomes should include a strong focus on reducing poverty and deprivation for pregnant women, young children and their families. Read full submission here

Welfare fit for families - upcoming CPAG campaign

Children should be at the heart of all policies, and we should not be seeing children’s wellbeing compromised by policies that reduce family income. In 2018 CPAG wants to see policy-makers and politicians reform the welfare system, so that it is based on principles of compassion and caring, and the real needs of families, without stressful over-emphasis on work, and punitive, corrective methodologies. We are launching a campaign later in the year asking Government to reform welfare so that it is fit for families in the 21st century and provides support based on each family’s unique needs. In the lead-up to the launch we are calling on supporters to share their stories and tell us what questions they have about current welfare policies, which will form the basis of a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that will be available to the public online.

Please email with your questions.

Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights

Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa (ACYA) submitted to the Universal Periodic Review on behalf of a coalition of organisations working to promote children’s rights and wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand. ACYA consulted widely on the submission including with CPAG who contributed commentary on current failings of State policy in terms of ensuring children’s rights are acknowledged and upheld according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) ratified by New Zealand 25 years ago. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. View the submission online here.

Policy news

Welfare advisory Group update

The Welfare Expert Advisory Group has been asked to undertake a broad-ranging review of the welfare system. From their terms of reference, the broad objective of the group will be to provide advice to the Government on options that could best give effect to its vision for the future direction of the social welfare system. Some areas the group will look into include the purpose of the system and specific recommendations on the current obligations and sanctions regime. We hope to meet with the group soon.

Government consultations on Child Wellbeing, Living Standards and Social Investment

As part of developing a Child Wellbeing Strategy, the Government has been meeting with groups who work with and support the improvement of the lives of children and their families. A cabinet paper was released in May which noted that poverty was deeply connected to child wellbeing. Legislative and political commitments to reducing child poverty currently for consideration include having a specific child poverty section within the final Child Wellbeing strategy, and the development of a detailed Child Poverty Reduction Action Plan, which sits below the overarching Child Wellbeing Strategy. Minister for Children Tracey Martin has said a broader public engagement process will begin in the second half of the year.

‘Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand’ is being developed by Stats NZ, as a source of measures for New Zealand’s well-being. The indicators will be selected in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, including central and local Government, NGOs, Te Ao Māori experts, academics, and technical advisory groups.

The Treasury has called for submissions on its proposal for a Living Standards Dashboard, closing on 31 July 2018. We recommend taking the survey at Living Standards Dashboard Proposal Survey.

Social Investment: The Social Investment Agency is preparing to engage in korero with New Zealanders about the Government’s approach to investing for social wellbeing and a policy for the protection and use of personal information. Find out more about the data policy, and have your say about the approach to investing for social wellbeing here.

CPAG’s submission to The Treasury on the Living Standards Dashboard will be available online next week, looking at what indicators are missing from the proposed framework and recommending amendments. We will also seek to be part of the consultation process for ‘Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand’, the Child Wellbeing Strategy as well as to be across proposed changes to the Social Investment Approach to child wellbeing.

Working for Families increases on 1 July

CPAG welcomed the long overdue increases to Working for Families (WFF), but after six years of no adjustment for average wage and cost increases, the changes were little more than an overdue catch-up.

Working families on low incomes have been particularly hard hit by past cuts to the income threshold from which  families' payments start to reduce. Labour's Families package raises the threshold to $42,700 from $36,350, so more families will be eligible for the full amount. Just the increase in the threshold means a family on $42,700 will get $37 per week more than they would have under National's proposed reduction of the threshold to $35,000.

Read more here

High court rules loans are not income for welfare beneficiaries

In a breakthrough decision released on 3 July the High Court has said that loans are not income for social security purposes and CPAG is calling on the Minister of Social Development to immediately remove all debts, cases and prosecutions against beneficiaries where loans have been counted as income.

Read more about the case here

The Child Poverty Reduction Bill that is currently in Parliament awaiting a second reading, will use a range of measures to determine the number of children affected by different levels of poverty. The Bill requires reporting on the numbers of children living in households with income below percentages (60% and 50%) of the current national median disposable income (equivalised), after housing costs (AHC)**. These levels are referred to as "income poverty lines". The Bill also recommends (but doesn't require) reporting on numbers below the 40% income poverty line - children living in families whose income falls below this line would be experiencing very severe poverty. According to CPAG's poverty analysis paper (St John & So, 2018) Heather's family income falls far below any of the income poverty lines drawn by the draft Child Poverty Reduction Bill. Her weekly after housing costs income is about 27% of the national median, and the additional income needed to get her to the 50% line is significant.

29 June - Working for Families is not a trap, it’s a run-down house in need of TLC

The idea that families need extra income to support children is not new, and certainly not isolated to Working for Families or to New Zealand. Prior to WFF there has consistently been some form of state support for families raising children in Aotearoa-New Zealand, as has been the case in many other developed countries. In 1946, the Government first brought in the Universal Family Benefit, followed by a range of other tax-related credits, up until and including WFF. In its current state however, our system of tax credits doesn't provide well enough to ensure that every child can flourish, and it needs a real overhaul for it to be successful.

4 July - A heartfelt letter penned by "Ms F"

In a landmark decision made by the High Court yesterday, it was determined that loans could not be counted as income for social security purposes - a huge victory for Ms F, a sole mother who has spent the past eight years facing a possible $120K of repayments and fighting for her case. But the years and the overwhelming stress she experienced cannot be taken back.

Keeping up with CPAG Regional Networks

Currently CPAG has networks in Whangarei, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Nelson. If you're interested in attending CPAG events in your local region please sign up to your closest network mailing list.

If your organisation or event is looking for support from a local CPAG on issues that relate to our kaupapa, please don't hesitate to get in touch. 

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

For the latest news, blogs and policy updates related to child poverty, check out our Facebook page. 

The CPAG social media community is growing and to date we have reached 13,300 'likes' on Facebook!

We are working hard at ensuring we highlight items of significance and relevance to child poverty in New Zealand, and take note of what is going on in other countries so that we can find out what works for children and what doesn't. We also aim to keep you up-to-date on local seminars that are useful and informative, as well as events that will be entertaining, and links to campaigns by other organisations in the child well-being network. 

We need your help to spread the word, and we care about what you think. So join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @cpagnz. Contribute to the discussion, like and share our posts if you find them meaningful. We value your feedback, and invite you to private message us or email us should you have a query or would like to share something with us. Our blog posts online also invite you to comment and share via social media. 

With your help, we can change the narrative about poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand and make it a better place for whānau and tamariki, for generations to come.

Ngā mihi nui