Policy Watch September 2016


We are happy to see that a special attention and huge effort is put for the protection of the vulnerable children. However, I have to reiterate what was mentioned by my colleague yesterday that the convention on the rights of the child is not about vulnerable children, it is about every child living in the state party“.

Amal S. Doseri, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Welcome to the latest Policy Watch e-newsletter and for this edition we reflect on New Zealand’s Fifth Periodic Report under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) and the opportunity it provides to consider how our children and young people are faring, what we as a society are doing well, and what we can do better.

Early feedback from the UNCROC Committee indicates confusion about New Zealand’s social investment approach to policy, service delivery and funding which targets a specific group of vulnerable children (in state care and vulnerable to harm and abuse).

There is clarity on both sides about why investment in children and young people in state care is long overdue. The contention lies in the narrow scope and meaning of the terms ‘social investment’ and ‘vulnerability’.

UNCROC makes clear the rights-based obligations of signatory countries must apply to all children and not targeted groups of children. This means public resources should not be ciphened off from one group of children (universals) to another (targeted) but rather additional resources should be made available to specific groups of children where required (proportionate universalism).

The New Zealand delegation (government and non-government) has returned and there will no doubt be some soul searching. The stakes for a whole generation of children are too high not to!

Finally, this edition celebrates the achievement of the New Zealand’s Olympic and Paralympic Team 2016. It has been awesome to watch all of these young men and women make their mark as athletes and for some to transcend all expectations. What an inspiration!

Older People

Valuing Live, Living Well research report – NZCCSS’ latest report is all about sharing what it means to ‘live well’. It is about the less tangible dimensions of life like companionship, meaningful participation and the opportunity to grow as a person even in the face of physical challenges. It is about how faith-based social services help create social value on our communities. It is indeed about ‘going the extra mile’.

World Alzheimers Report – Rebalancing support for people with dementia towards primary and community care with specialist providing guidance and support, is one of the main recommendations coming out of the latest World Alzheimer Report. Find out more.


High poverty and inequality: a not so new normal – The latest Household Incomes in New Zealand 2015 Report indicates relatively little improvement and none if you are captured in the children in most hardship measure (40% Rel measure). No matter how the numbers are presented there are 230,000 children still living in poverty (22%).

Stop the Sanctions Petition – The Social Security Rewrite Bill has been reported back to Parliament by the Select Committee. The report is brief, just 11 pages long and makes few changes to the Bill. One change that NZCCSS strongly supports is to remove the parts of the Bill that continue the practice of taking away part of the welfare benefit from mothers of children who do not disclose the birth father. Auckland Action on Poverty has set up a Stop The Sanctions petition and Child Poverty Action Group has come out strongly in support.

Local body elections

Local body elections and social justice – Local councils, regional councils and District Health Boards are all vital parts of our democracy and have a huge impact on our daily lives. For that reason it is important to vote! Every Child Counts has been surveying candidates about what they can do to make their communities more child-friendly. In Auckland and Wellington the Living Wage movement has been asking mayoral and council candidates what they will do to support the Living Wage if elected. The Closing The Gap group have also come up with questions for candidates about issues that impact inequality and The Public Health Association in Wellington has rated candidates on based on their position on equity, population health, fluoridation, and knowledge and experience.

Easter Sunday protection is gone – Local body elections are one place where people can test candidates and influence councils about their position on Easter Sunday trading now that those councils have been made responsible for making the decision.

Child and family

Changes to family violence laws – Sweeping reforms to family violence legislation has been announced by Justice Minister Amy Adam that aim to put ‘early and effective intervention’ at the center of its focus. The gravity of this societal problem is now well understood. Comments by the National Addiction Centre Director Doug Sellman, provide a reminder however that we also need to understand the drivers of violence.

Lift youth court age: the tide is turning – Vigorous discussions about the cut-off age of youth justice continue with an open-letter to Prime Minister John key calling for the youth court age to be raised to 18 years. There are so many reasons to increase the youth court age as more and more evidence mounts that vulnerable children in the justice system need intensive care and support and not locked up with adults.

Grandparents raising grandchildren – Grandparents raising grandchildren do it for love and are making a difference, but a new report says more public funding is needed, alongside access to professional support for grandparents raising grandchildren with psychological and health needs. There is hope Oranga Tamariki will provide an opportunity to address the concerns raised in the report.

The triplets : Investment in outcomes for the vulnerable  Michael O’Brien, University of Auckland, and child advocate has written a thoughtful paper about changes in social services for children that have been built around three key terms: 1) investment 2) outcomes and 3) vulnerable. It’s a provocative piece and well worth a read.


More funding community housing – NZCCSS and others in the social and community housing sector have been calling for the Government to re-introduce capital grants for developing social housing that were stopped in more than two years ago when the Social Housing Fund was wound up. The announcement of $24 million in grants for community housing in Auckland represents a recognition by government that such grants are needed. This announcement comes along with another announcement of more social housing in Auckland through a redevelopment of Housing NZ houses in Northcote in Auckland that will replace 300 social housing units with 400 social housing units and up to 800 other houses to be sold on the private market.

World Homeless Day: NZ events – World Homeless Day is nearly upon on us and NZCCSS members Salvation Army and the Wellington Homeless Trust are busy organising their support for this event (Friday 7th October)

What’s on

Community Research webinar – Introduction to RBA™  – Make a measurable difference  (webinar). 19 October 11:00. Learn about Results Based Accountably™ (RBA™) from one of New Zealand’s experts. In this 60-minute webinar Sharon Shea will introduce the RBA methodology and explain how you can use it to better show the impact of your work.

The Justice Conference (October 28-29)This is the Time. This is the Place.  New Zealand is hosting for the first time The Justice Conference (October 28-29, Auckland) and it’s not one to be missed! The line up includes: Eugene Cho – Founder and lead Pastor of Quest Church, Bishop Justin Duckworth – Anglican Bishop of Wellington, Danielle Strickland, Salvation Army officer leading the social justice cause in the United States, Andrew Beacroft, the Children’s Commissioner and more.


Self-help for Trauma Therapists : A Practitioner’s Guide – This book by Margaret Pack, Australian Catholic University, intends to assist human service workers, such as those working as therapists, social workers and counsellors, to maintain their self-care and professional effectiveness when working in fields where stress and trauma play a key factor in their everyday working lives. Could be a timely resource given the focus of Oranga tanariki on trauma based practice in the new way of working. 

Migrant Worker Research Report – Caritas New Zealand has recently launched a new report Stand up for what’s right – supporting migrant workers. The report is based on a small-scale qualitative research project about migrant worker experiences and is in response to ongoing accounts of the unfair treatment of migrant workers in New Zealand.