Policy Watch : Christmas 2016

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Advent is a journey towards Bethlehem.
May we let ourselves be drawn by the light of God made man.

Pope Francis

Welcome to the latest and last Policy Watch e-newsletter for 2016. For this edition we reflect on the Advent season and its promise of hope, peace, joy and love in readiness for the coming of Christ. Across the country NZCCSS social service agencies are putting the Christ in Christmas and supporting thousands of families, older people and single people, young and old to make Christmas a special day to remember. The story of basic needs unmet remains unchanged for another year and some of our agencies are predicting even greater need this Christmas. There is promise of future economic surpluses next year and hope these might actually start to “flood down” to those in need as part of the investment approach. Although as we write this edition Prime Minister John Key has announced his resignation and we can expect some political uncertainty for a time. We also remember those who died in the 14 November 7.8 earthquake quake and who continue to be affected in Kaikoura and Wellington. As we near the end of the calendar year make a time to read the Earthquake Commissions resources on how to prepare for a future seismic event. There are sound reasons why New Zealand is know as “the shaky isles” so be prepared.

Faith and hope this Christmas

Congratulations to the government for listening to feedback and responding to advances in brain science as part of their decision to include ‘lower risk’ 17 year olds in the youth justice system. There has been tremendous advocacy across the NGO sector for this result so congratulations to all those involved too. From 2019 youth who fall within this group can expect a second chance and a promise of services and resources to help them improve their lives. Just Speak has supported the decision but questioned the 2 year wait. NZCCSS shares this concern. But all said, a great present to end the year!

A little more Room in the Inn

The announcements of yet more new money directed at emergency housing could be read as an acknowledgment of the crisis point reached in the availability of low cost housing around New Zealand.

Emergency housing boost but will it solve affordable housing crisis – $300 million for emergency housing to find an extra 1400 places in areas ‘of high demand’ has been announced. The money will go into emergency housing, more support for tenants and more frontline staff. Overall, the social housing sector is positive but have concerns the underlying issue – insufficient growth in building low cost housing – may not be addressed in the medium to long term.

18 for 4 –  For those looking for a quicker solution to the Auckland housing crisis, check out a creative and affordable response from Auckland Community Housing Providers Network that sees 4 houses turned into 8 social housing, 6 assisted ownership and 4 affordable homes.

Income related rent subsidy offered to council housing  – For the first time the income related rent subsidy is being offered to council housing through a new partnership between Wellington City Council (WCC) and The Salvation Army. The pilot is starting small with two homes in Newtown, with the option of taking up to 20 houses. It’s early days but there is hope that this partnership may go on to inspire other such partnerships around the country.

The Holy Family : Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Legislative reforms to support Ministry of Vulnerable Children : Oranga Tamariki. Reforms to services for vulnerable children and young people are picking up momentum. The new Chief Executive, Grainne Moss (pronounced Gron ya), has been  announced. The Social Services Select Committee has reported back on Bill 1 and Cabinet papers underpinning Bill 2 are available. This second suite of changes are expected to be introduced into Parliament before the end of the year (last day of sitting is Thursday 15 December). Given the magnitude of these reforms, the timing of the pending consultation (likely to be while at the beach with family and friends) could not be described as conducive to a thorough consultation process. NZCCSS notes that already, the Cabinet papers have raised some controversy around a proposal to removal the ‘whanau first principle’, which derived from what was at the time a highly credible report from the Ministerial Advisor Committee on a Maori Perspective (1988). There has been a strong call from our Maori partners not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Urgent things to do before Christmas

The Many Faces of Trauma – Wesley Community Action has announced the arrival of Tein Ung of Harvard University’s Centre for the Developing Child, and Ray Pillidge, Regional Director at the Dept of Children and Families in Massachusetts, for a full day workshop (4 January 2017) on the many faces of trauma. As we know, the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children has recognised the need to provide a trauma informed lens over the care support and service delivery for children and young people in New Zealand. This workshop is timely and a must do for frontline child welfare practitioners and administrators, in Government and NGO’s, as well as systems leaders who oversee the delivery of services for children and families. Be in quick as there are limited spaces.

Superu Children and Families Research Fund – Applications are now open for the Superu Children and Families Research Fund. The Fund is dedicated to funding policy-relevant research using external data from the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) study to explore and shape social policy that supports children and their families, whānau and communities. Applications close on 28 February 2017.

Information Sharing – Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Social Development are reviewing their information sharing process and looking to replace it with an Approved Information Sharing Agreement that looks to extend the current arrangement to include information used to assess applicant’s entitlement to student allowances and housing assistance. This website explains the proposals and invites feedback by 16 December 2016.

Bringing peace on earth

Help a child stay warm this winter – It may be summer in New Zealand, but temperatures in Syria are below -5C and Syrian children are struggling to stay warm. UNICEF NZ has launched an appeal to provide blankets and warm clothes to the children. Watch the video clip and reach out and support UNICEF NZ’s appeal. Let’s give some love and hope this Christmas.

NZCCSS top 6 reads this christmas

ComVoices issues Paper – ‘The Collection of Individual Client Level Data’ summarises key issues for the community sector on the collection of individual client level data. Well worth a read to keep informed.

ComVoices Survey – The second ComVoice survey of community and volunteer organisations is a must read this Christmas for those wanting to learn more about how community organisations are faring amidst financial pressure, greater volumes for services and increased complexity.

What Next: Addressing NZ’s Youth Unemployment – The Salvation Army says persistent unemployment in this age group suggests Government and some industries see immigration as an easy-fix to skill shortages, rather than tipping the balance in favour of upskilling young New Zealanders. This is an essential read for those working to improve the outcomes of young people in New Zealand.

Beyond the Prison Gate Reoffending and Reintegration in Aotearoa New Zealand – Salvation Army has just released a significant report that says changes must be made to how prisoners re-enter society for New Zealanders to feel safe and secure in their homes and communities. The report also looks at the experiences of past inmates for a first-hand look at how the system impacts those who have been released and how things might be improved. Recommendations include better access to accommodation and health services, private-public partnerships to provide employment, and mentors.

Our Rights, Our Voices – This is a great report written by Save the Children and UNICEF’s youth ambassadors and captures the voices of 1198 children and young people on issues that really matter to them. In the brave new world of adults putting children at the centre, this is a must read report.

CPAG Social Security Summit:Investing in Children – And don’t forget to slip this one in your bag as you head off to the beach!  Packed with papers from the conference held earlier in the year, its a great resource for those wanting to get their heads around the government’s definition of social investment –  the good, the bad and the ugly!

Presents in the Christmas Stocking

Pay equity – There has been support all round for law changes announced that will make it easier for women to file pay equity claims with their employers, rather than go through the courts. This is part of government’s acceptance of the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity and will update the Equal Pay Act 1972 and amend the Employment Relations Act 2000. The Joint Working Group reported back earlier this year with a number of recommendations, including 1) Principles to provide guidance to employers and employees in identifying, assessing and resolving pay equity claims and 2) A process for employers and employees to follow to address pay equity, including a bargaining process based on the Employment Relations Act framework. These changes will impact on many of NZCCSS members who employ aged care workers, social workers, and support workers in their organisation and could be aground breaker for gender equality in the workplace.

Ross Home National Finalist 2016 in Care Awards – NZCCSS congratulations to Ross Home for receiving the National Finalist Award, Community Connections category, at the New Zealand Aged Care Association’s Excellence in Care Awards in Auckland. The award was  for establishing Ross Café as an innovative way to bring together residence and the wider community.

Hawke’s Bay DHB – NZCCSS also congratulates Hawke’s Bay DHB for their enlightened decisions to extend free primary healthcare to all children until they turn 18. The DHB targeted practices would target practices with the highest Maori populations and located in less affluent areas.  NZCCSS looks forward to hearing more DHBs following this investment approach.

What Works Website One Year On – Community Research has recently celebrated its first year of Webinars and the ‘What Works’ Website. These resources were developed to support NGO build capability around the collection of data/information/narrative to demonstrate contract specific outcomes have been achieved. Community Research stepped into the breach following a shift to ‘evidence-based contracting’ by the Ministry of Social Development. NZCCSS would like to acknowledge Jan Hinde, Director, Community Research, and her Team, for the resources and leadership they have provided throughout the year in what remains a time of significant change across the social services sector.

Job vacancy: Head of Mission, Methodist Mission Northern

Methodist Mission Northern (MMN) is looking for a leader who is an advocate, dreamer and connector of people.  A person who radiates a joyful presence and commitment to the mission of a people’s movement to take collective action that supports social justice and social change.

You will require:

  • An understanding of the Methodist Church of NZ
  • Recognised theological leadership and parish experience
  • Knowledge and experience of working and engaging with other sectors
  • Highly developed relationship-building, facilitation, communication, public speaking and team leadership
  • An understanding of how large, matrixed organisations work, especially not for profits
  • Ability to perform governance and management roles and responsibilities
  • Ability to work with others to innovate community-led developments
  • Proven organisational, time and stress management skills
  • Willingness to undertake further professional development

Applications close 17th February 2017.  A full job description is available on request from Cheryl Banks, Executive Assistant, Methodist Mission Northern via [email protected]  Applications can be emailed via Cheryl or sent via post attention Marion Hines, Board Chairperson, Methodist Mission Northern PO Box 5104, Auckland 1141

A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all Policy Watchers.

May you have the gift of faith, the blessing of hope and the peace of His love
at Christmas and always.
 
Best wishes from the NZCCSS Secretariat
Our Office will be closed from 23 December  2016 to 16 January 2017

 

Advent Devotion

by the Rev. Jerry Chism

Oh Immanuel, God with us, truly in this Advent season we celebrate that you are not hidden in some faraway cloud, but you chose to be with us in the blur and mystery of our lives.

In the midst of lists and rush, you are with us as a song that echoes in our minds, as the light of a candle, as a card from a friend. They are signs of your presence.

We turn to you this season and pray that you would birth joy and healing, blessing and hope in us.
Let something wonderful begin in us — something surprising and holy.

May your hand be upon us. Let your love fill us. Let your joy overwhelm us.
Let our longing for you be met on a coming holy night. Immanuel with us once again.

Amen.

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