Policy Watch 4 May 2017

All we need is a creative project, and a few good people to work with, and a new thought may spread like wildfire.

As the anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Dame Anne Salmond, 2013

Welcome to the latest Policy Watch e-newsletter and for this edition we celebrate a small group of people that have brought big change to 55,000 low paid women working in care and support roles in aged and residential care, and home and community support services.

And it’s all thanks to the determination of one women Kristine Bartlett and the pay equity claim brought by E Tu union on her behalf against her employer TerraNova. Four years on, and the claim has been settled by a $2 billion pay equity package that will see a hourly rate of pay increase to $19 to $27 per hour (from 1 July).

As an umbrella group, with a mission to advocate for the best care of older people, whose members employ thousands of dedicated carers, NZCCSS is heartened by this decision and looks forward to receiving the details on the settlement to understand the full impact on our organisations and services. Many details of how the settlement will be implemented are still to be finalised so we are still finding out just what this all means for the sector.

Budget 2017 

With a surplus of $1.8 billion government has choices about how it spends taxpayers money. So what will it choose to spend it on? All will be revealed on Thursday 25th May. Meanwhile, pre-Budget speeches from the Prime Minister and Minister for Finance provide a taste of spending priorities for 2017.

Prime Minister Bill English’s Pre-Budget Speech remains faithful to his focus on vulnerable children and the social investment approach as the tool to turn things around for kiwi kids who don’t get a good start.

Budget 2017 will see an extra $68.6 million over four years to support vulnerable children and their families. This is part of a bigger $321 million Social Investment Package including 14 initiatives (details still to come). The $68.6 million vulnerable children package includes:

  • $28.1 million to increase Family Start, an intensive home visiting programme, by around 570 a year
  • $34.7 million to support more children with behavioural issues (target at 8 years and under)
  • $6.0 million to help children with communication issues

There are also 10 new Better Public Sector targets, three of which speak directly to children.

  • Having 90 per cent of pregnant women register with a Lead Maternity Carer in their first trimester
  • Reducing the number of hospitalisations for children 12 and under with preventable conditions
  • Improving the literacy and numeracy of children – focusing on higher achievement of students in year 8
  • Reducing the number of serious crime victims by 10,000
  • Achieving a 20 per cent reduction in the time it takes to house priority clients on the social housing register

Further information about Better Public Service Targets can be found HERE.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance Steven Joyce has also given a pre-Budget speech and he’s spending even bigger bucks to build new infrastructure – $11 billion on roads, rail, broadband, schools, houses and hospitals as well as justice and defence.

Latest reports

Thinking Outside the Box: Review of Seclusion and Restraint Practices in New Zealand The report by Sharon Shalev reviews seclusion and restraint practices in NZ and finds at a time when the international trend is towards reducing the use of these practices, New Zealand bucks the trend with an overuse of solitary confinement and other forms of restraints used in a range of facilities – prisons, health and disability units, youth justice residences, children’s care units and police cells. The list just goes on…This is a truly sobering report raising many questions about how we are treating some of our most vulnerable citizens.

People’s Mental Health Report – The report reflects a story-based inquiry into the public mental health system and is based on a collection of 500 stories from people involved with mental health in New Zealand from mental health professionals to those with personal or family experience of the system. These stories offer unique insights into mental health from many angles, and capture a multitude of themes, many of which were raised as far back as the Mason Report – inadequate funding for mental health, ring-fencing undermined; the need for an independent body overseeing the mental health system, staff shortages and burnout, need to access early intervention services, and need for culturally appropriate services; effective services for children and young people; and, mental health promotion and illness prevention. This unique piece of work is a must read.

Bailing Out The Justice System: If prisons are “a moral and fiscal failure” – why build another one? This is the question the JustSpeak team asks in their latest report analysing the reasons why the prison population is growing again, despite lower levels of crime. The main reason it seems is tougher bail rules mean people are ending up in prison on remand for minor offences. Check out the report on the JustSpeak website.

The latest from the office of the Children’s commissioner  

History may judge us quite harshly – Judge Andrew Beacroft gives a ‘free and frank’ views on his role as Children’s Commissioner nine months into the job. It’s clear from his insights that decades of experience in the Youth Court has produced a deep understanding of the drivers of vulnerability and youth crime – poverty, learning difficulties, behavioural disorders – in an environment of little adult help and in a society not doing enough.  Budget 2017 offers some hope of positive change.

Some hope for young offenders – The confronting reality is that many young people on remand end up in police cells simply because there are no alternatives. So news of plans to establish three remand homes for Whangarei, Palmerston North and Dunedin have received an enthusiastic welcome from a broad range of child advocates.

Housing

We must speak up about our housing crisis – Catholic and Anglican church leaders, Cardinal John Dew and Archbishop Philip Richardson spoke out in response to the release of research by the Housing Foundation on the benefits of home ownership. “Families are paying to live in places that are simply not fit to live in, places that make them and their children sick. There are no consequences for landlords, but significant consequences for all taxpayers who pick up the costs of the consequences,” they said.

Legislation/Submissions Update

Family and Whanau Violence Legislation Bill – The bill has been referred to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee. Submissions are due on  24 May. NZCCSS is currently analysing the bill and will be consulting with members. Watch this space for updates.

Social Work news

The Social Workers Registration Board is consulting on a draft general ‘scope of practice’ for social work. This work has come out of recommendations from the Social Select Committee Report on the Inquiry into Operation of the Social Worker registration Act 2003 to prescribe a scope of practice for social work. Comments to consultation@swrb.govt.nz by 5pm Friday 19 May 2017.

Spotlight on NZCCSS members

Selwyn Village hosts baby play dates – More innovation from Selwyn Village’s rest homes with the ‘Baby Buddies’ visiting programmes. For the past 18 months, Auckland’s Selwyn Village has been hosting visits by local Plunket mothers and their babies and toddlers and it’s proven to be a great success for residents, babies and mums alike.

If members have stories they would like featured in Policy Watch send an email to admin@nzccss.org.nz and tell us news you’d like to share across the network.

Resources

Guide to using administrative data – Superu have released a short and practical user guide on how to use administrative data to evaluate a programme or service.

Health and Independence report 2016 – The Report is the Director-General of Health’s annual report on the state of public health in New Zealand and draws from health information from a range of sources.

The last word goes to

Pope Francis who joined TED Talks to deliver encouragement about the future, and a plea for the tech-savvy audience to care more for each other and themselves than things –  Why the only future worth building includes everyone.

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