Policy Watch 10 April 2017

Rather than understanding other cultures, the starting point for change then is understanding our own biases, and mitigating their impact on our decision-making and interactions with othersUnconscious Bias and Education: A comparative Study of Maori and African American students

Welcome to the latest Policy Watch e-newsletter and for this edition we reflect on the collaborative work of Anton Blank, Dr Carla Houkamau, and Dr Hautahi Kingi, on unconscious bias and its timeliness given deeply felt concerns raised by Maori leaders about the Children, Young persons and their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Bill.

The above report is a thought provoking read. It uses an unconscious bias frame as a tool to understand (and mitigate) unacceptable educational inequities for Maori and African American children. These biases are presented  as ‘natural human characteristics’ (easier to understand and empathise with someone like me than someone different), but taken to the extreme produce damaging inequalities at a personal and societal level.

The good news is we can challenge and change these unconscious thoughts and behaviours and it all starts with a personal journey of understanding our own biases and how they impact on our relationships and decision-making.

So this Easter, take the challenge, and ask yourself What are my unconscious biases?…… and let’s see if we can build a more empathetic and equal New Zealand together.

Are NGOs to go against the advice of the Privacy Commissioner?-  The Privacy Commissioner’s report Inquiry into MSD Collection of Client-Level Data from NGOs has concluded the Individual Client Level Data (ICLD) Policy is..”inconsistent with the principles of the Privacy Act and has the potential to infringe individual privacy” (p39). Add in MSD’s recent privacy breaches and serious questions around liability and accountability (for any future breaches) need an airing.  Minister Tolley has announced a delay while a new and secure IT platform is built but how far will this address the Privacy Commissioner’s concerns?

NZCCSS asks what’s driving this policy in the face of technical issues and deep concern from social service agencies and now the Privacy Commissioner? Gordon Campbell’s blog questions whether the rationalisation of services (re-worded as detecting multiple coverage) and a desire to ..”cut the overall $330 million budget” lies at the feet of this policy drive.

Back in October 2916 Executive Officer, Trevor McGlinchey raised similar concerns early on about community groups becoming the defacto arms of government through the collection of individualised data that would be used to ration services to highly vulnerable individuals and families.

It seems timely for a robust public discussion on why ‘multiple coverage’ is such an issue and where do wrap around (specialist) services fit into this rationale? There is a lot happening in this space and NZCCSS will keep members informed.

Oranga Tamariki launched – Oranga Tamariki has arrived. It’s gestation has been long and its birth hasn’t been without contention but this new arrival is also surrounded by love and hope for a better future for children and young people it embraces.  NZCCSS newsletter will keep you up to date on the latest information and related events as they are rolled out.

Whanau first principles– All credit to the Social Development Minister Anne Tolley (and the Select Committee process) for reviewing draft legislative provisions that water down the prioritised placing of Māori children in state care with whānau, hapū and iwi.  However, further reviewing may be needed In light of serious concerns raised by the Law Commission who support the intent of the Bill  but believe the extent of the changes proposed warrant a rewrite of the Bill Listen to Family Court Judge John Adams, speak to Nine to None about his concerns.

The mystery of case load data – There has been swirls of concern about the resourcing of the ‘front of house’ of Oranga Tamariki (social workers). These concerns arose out of Masterton after judges raised strong concerns over a backlog of cases putting families at risk and called fo rmore social workers. In response, Paul Nixon, Chief Social Worker, response pointed to the data saying “It was still being analysed ‘to identify which areas were worst off“.  But the plot thickens when we listen to Lucy Standford-Reed, Association of Social Workers, who points out resource issues go back at least to 2014 and were captured in a robust report Workload and Casework review, written by the Office of the Chief Social Work (which just happened to be headed by Paul Nixon himself). In fairness, the new model will take a more systems approach to each child, and this was clearly discussed during the interview with Paul Nixon. Nevertheless, it is surprising data on areas with high (social work) needs is not already known. Everyone wants Oranga Tamariki to fulfil its vision but as the Children’s Commissioner, Judge Andrew Beacroft, succinctly put it ”Unless the front of house of Oranga Tamariki is performing to an excellent level and is properly supported and resourced really all of the wonderful new principles that are being introduced in terms of being child centre, in a single line of accontability and a proper complaints service, all of that will crash and burn in a sense without a fundamental commitment to an excellent social work services”. Resourcing levels matter.

Logo for Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Vulnerable Children has been unveiled. The logo draws on imagery of a pou (a pillar / support) and realising potential. The logo was designed by a panel of young people formerly in state care and has been supported by the Children’s Commissioner saying “it showed the new ministry meant what it said by listening to the voices of the children affected“.

VOYCE Whakarongo MaiNew Zealand’s first independent connection and advocacy service for children and young people in care has a name – VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai. The service has been developed in partnership between young people with experience of being in care, the government, the philanthropic sector and NGOs. Legislation was passed in Parliament at the end of last year to enable its establishment. It’s a significant step and means every child in state care will get a trained and committed advocate.

National Care Standards – In another first for New Zealand, National Care Standards (NSC) are currently being developed by lead agency, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). The purpose of the standards is to provide clear expectations for the standard and quality of care placements homes. many would say, about time. MSD has been consulting with young people, caregivers, social workers, providers and whānau on the content of the standards. Information available on the Ministry’s website, suggests the scope is broad, including procurement, assessments and approval process, caregivers training and support. NZCCSS looks forward to the NCS making it on the website so we can all have a look.

Supporting whanau to care for children– A Masterton Family Court Judge was not impressed with CYF on its handling of a couple who approached the agency about formalising the custody arrangements of four kin children (two with disabilities) to seek more financial assistance to care for the children, saying CYF wanted to “wipe their hands” of children in a bid to save money” Ask any parent, money matters when you are raising children and more so if they have disabilities. It’s also an investment in our communities to ensure all children have their needs met. This highlights the difference in payments for children placed in whanau care under Child Youth and Family Care and Protection and those place in more informal arrangements. Whanau (grandparents or great aunts and uncles as in the case here) do not receive the same financial support as whanau who have children placed in their care formally by CYF. Grandparents raising Grandchildren Trust NZ (March 2017) Page 4 sets out clearly the difference in payments and is a useful resource. NZCCSS would like to see more financial support to whanau who step in to care for children within their kin whakapapa.

Information sharing – There has been strong concerns raised about proposed information-sharing provisions in the Children, Young Persons and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Bill. While there is agreement that children’s safety must be prioritised, the Privacy Commissioner’s submission on the Bill raises strong concern about possible unintended consequences for trust relationships with those providing confidential services and the privacy rights of children and their families.

Legislative Updates

Family and Whanau Violence Legislation Bill – This omnibus bill has been introduced into Parliament and aims to implement the Safer Sooner reforms, aimed at breaking the pattern of family violence and reducing harm and cost on victims and on the wider society.  The Bill has been introduced into the House and is awaiting its first reading.

Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill –  There has been cross party support for Jan Logie’s Members Bill to enable victims of domestic abuse to receive 10 days of paid leave from employers help them move house, attend court hearings and consult with lawyers. This is a great step forward and demonstrates increased societal awareness of the harm done by domestic abuse and the need to support victims to make change. The Bill  has been referred to the Justice Committee. The Bill has been referred to the Justice Committee and submissions close 28 April 2017.

Housing

Evidence supports roll out of home safety measures – He Kainga Oranga/the Housing and Health Research Programme might as well be renamed the social investment unit given its outstanding work producing evidence based research to inform public policy development and funding! The latest evidence from the University of Otago research programme demonstrates that injuries from falls in the home were reduced by 26% after home modifications were undertaken (I.e handrails for outside steps, and internal stairs/outside lighting).

Social housing demand up 49 percent since 2015 – Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has reported that as at December 2016 the number of houses on the social housing ‘Priority A’ waiting list was 3189, a 49 percent increase since December 2015. Those households on the Priority A list are defined by the Ministry of Social Development as having a severe and persistent need that must be addressed immediately.

St David’s Naenae takes action over housing crisis –  St David’s Anglican Church held a peaceful protest over the weekend to highlight the lack of affordable, good quality housing in Naenae and Epuni.Tents went up on Friday on a vacant Housing NZ section opposite the Church. 4 years on from giving tenants notice many of the houses have been knocked down due to earthquake risks but no replacements have been build.  Meanwhile rents have sored in the area and demand for affordable rents has increase. Spokesman the Rev Martin Robinson said the focus was on the 17,000 square metres of vacant HNZ land in the city…Much of it was in Naenae and Epuni, and he said it annoyed him that it had been left vacant for so long. It was “inexcusable” at a time when there was a clear need for rental and social housing.

Is it time to review letting Fees? – Renter United spokesperson Kate Day questions who benefits from a letting fee that is increasingly prohibitive (ranging from $500 to $1,000), creating a further barrier to affording rental accommodation. Scotland outlawed letting fees back in 2012 and the British government has announced letting fees will be banned in England and Wales.

Data watch

Recent reports on a man wrongly accused for 15 years of being a sex offender, with the wrong information kept in CYF files and repeated in reports to the Family Court, is a reminder about the need for secure systems for information and an independent review process around the storage and dissemination of sensitive information.

Client Level data

There is a temporary reprieve to sexual violence services from new contractual requirements for client level data to receive funding.The new arrangement, due to come into place on 1 July, requires agencies seeking state funding to hand over clients’ private details to government organisations. However, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has directed her ministry to delay implementing the information-sharing programme for those working with sexual violence victims until it works out how to securely collect and store the data. Umbrella group ComVoices spokesperson Brenda Pilott told Nine to Noon that agencies she works with feared the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) did not have a secure system for information from any of the groups to be covered by the new programme.

What’s on

Oranui’s Indigenous Diversity Forum on 5 May 2017, will explore how New Zealand can transition from biculturalism to multi-culturalism.

Friday, 05 May 2017 (8:00 – 17:00). Soundings Theatre – Te Papa Tongarewa, 55 Cable Street, Wellington, New Zealand.

The New Horizons for Women Trust Award  – The New Horizons for Women Trust provides awards that benefit women and/or girls. Each year the Trust provides a number of second-chance education, research and specific purpose awards. Closing on Wednesday 12th April at midday.

Resources

The Dementia Economic Impact Report 2016  – Alzheimer New Zealand has launched this new report on the economic impact of dementia in NZ at Parliament. The Report 2016 shows new models of care are needed urgently if the government wants to reduce the significant human and financial cost of the condition.
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Te Ritorito 2017 hui : Towards whanau, hapu and iwi wellbeing. If you missed this outstanding hui, don’t worry you can watch many of the presentations on the Te Ritorito 2017 hui  facebook page.

Here are some resources sent to NZCCSS aimed at providing information about senior mental health. 

According to the American Psychological Association, about 20% of seniors 65 and older meet the criteria for some kind of mental disorder. They also found that this age group is significantly less likely to receive mental health treatment, typically sticking to primary care doctors for all their needs. While there is no substitute for seeing a mental health professional,  it’s important for seniors to have access to the most current, comprehensive information about their mental health.

Caregiver’s Guide to Understanding Dementia Behaviors

The Benefits of Cooking with Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Guide

Six Things Seniors Can Do To Improve Memory

Preparing Your Home for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s

10 Easy Ways Seniors Can Boost Their Mental Health and Well-Being

Eating for Your Brain as a Senior

Overcoming The Loss Of A Child Without Drugs Or Alcohol — A Parent’s Guide

Mourning A Parent or Spouse’s Death

 

 

 

 

 

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