Policy Watch March 2019

“Ki a koutou katoa kua tae mai, ahakoa ko wai, ahakoa nō hea, nau mai ki tēnei hāhi, ki tēnei karakia, hei whakanui te tau rima tekau o NZCCSS

To all of you have come today, no matter who you are or where you come from, welcome to this Church, to this service, to commemorate the 50th year of NZCCSS”. Trevor McGlinchey, Executive Officer, NZCCSS.

..”Tonight we are celebrating and remembering that remarkably for the past 50 years the social service arm of the Anglican, the Baptist, the Catholic, the Methodist, the Presbyterian Churches and the Salvation Army, here in Aotearoa/New Zealand have put aside their differences and worked together for the common good”. Sister Margaret Martin, Catholic Denominational Representative, NZCCSS.

Tēnā koutou and welcome to the latest Policy Watch e-letter highlighting the latest news, research and policy developments relevant to the NZCCSS mission to work for a just and compassionate society in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Wednesday 20th February 2019 marked both the United Nations International Day of Social Justice and the start of the Council’s 50 years of service working for justice and compassion on behalf of its member churches.

Our thanks go to Cardinal John Dew who encouraged NZCCSS to celebrate the value and strength of our ecumenical voice on social justice issues that is as important to today as it was 50 years ago.

NZCCSS celebrations were held across church communities around New Zealand, and in Wellington the Anglican Wellington Cathedral of St Paul held a 6 hour vigil and an evening prayer event to give focus to the day. The March Kete Kupu will have a full update on this event.

Towards the end of last month, several key reports were released

Welfare Expert Advisory Group Report (WEAG) Report – This much anticipated report has now been formally delivered to Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni. The views of over 3,000 New Zealanders were considered during the review process and the report is supported by substantial evidence and research. A fair and compassionate welfare system is the aim of the review, but to succeed the report must navigate the choppy waters of politics. We now await the outcome of discussions with Coalition and Confidence and Supply partners and see whether moral courage wins out. The report will be publicly released in March or early April.

The Tax Working Group has released its “Future of Tax” report, which recommends introducing a broad-based taxation of capital gains.  As anticipated there has been some hooha about those with the most (and realistically we are not talking many!) paying a bit more to contribute to the ‘common good’. Reassurance to those needing it has come from a number of international experts who effectively say New Zealand is an outlier for not having a form of Capital Gains Tax. So in short, the world won’t end and the sun will still come up in the morning!

Housing Standards – NZCCSS strongly supports the government new rules for rental properties that will require landlords to install ceiling and under-floor installation, alongside the supply of heaters that can warm a living room to 18 degrees, and range hoods or extraction fans in kitchens and bathrooms. To do nothing to address the issue of poor quality and unhealthy housing would simply be  immoral.

Workforce issues

The Social Workers Registration Legislation Act – It’s been a long time coming but mandatory registration of social workers is now a  requirement. The Social Worker Registration Board has prepared a useful Questions and Answers sheet to advise social workers and employers on new requirements. The Act has some significant implications for employers and social workers working in the community sector, who are now required to resource registration out of all ready stretched budgets. NZCCSS will provide further updates to members on the NZCCSS website later in April.

Children, families and whanau

What makes a good life? The Office of the Children’s Commissioner and Oranga Tamariki have released their joint report What makes a good life? . The Report provides an overview of what they heard from more than 6,000 children and young people, commissioned as part of the wider public engagement to inform the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy. Key insights are:

1. Change is needed – The majority of children and young people are doing well, but some are facing significant challenges. Almost everyone who shared their views could point to something that needed to change if all children and young people are to have a good life.

2. Family and whānau are crucial – We heard that in order for children to be well, their families must be well and involved in making things better.

3. Providing the basics is important, but not enough on its own – Children and young people want more than just a minimum standard of living. Things such as feeling accepted, valued and respected are just as important.

4. Children and young people have valuable insights – Listening to children and young people’s views regularly and meaningfully is the best way to respond to their needs, wants and aspirations. We have heard that efforts to support children and young people need to focus on more than just what services are needed. Support systems need to accept children and young people for who they are, respect their critical relationships and support the people they care about to also be well.

Rise in the number of Porirua tamariki put into care – Radio New Zealand recently reported on the increase to the number of children removed from parents in Porirua (up 40 children since June 2018). Deep concern has been expressed by the community who want to see more help given to families and whānau struggling to care for their tamariki, not removal into state care. The availability of more supports and preventative services is critical to turning these statistics around. In the above report What Makes a Good Life the children clearly say their families must be well and involved in making things better.

Whānau Ora Review Report  has been released and while the report found many examples of Whānau Ora working and turning around people’s lives, the report also says providers are “overwhelmed by demand and often dealing with crisis situations better dealt with by the likes of medical professionals and social workers“. The report finds the demand for Whānau Ora outstripped the funding and resources available to partners, providers and whānau entities to provide support.

Older People

Employer-assisted work visas public consultation: In late 2017 the Salvation Army report Finding a Better Balance highlighted the challenges facing migrant healthcare workers in this country. Now the government is consulting on changes to those rules and the NZ Aged Care Association is looking for recognition of the skills shortage for healthcare workers. Find out more about the MBIE consultation on the their website, deadline for feedback is 18 March 2019.

Vocational Education and Training reform proposals will also have an impact on the workforce in home and community healthcare so the sector industry training organisation Careerforce is seeking feedback to help its response to the government’s proposals. Find out more about how these proposals will affect aged care and home based support workers and their training on the Careerforce website. Deadline for comment is 22nd March 2019.

Other news

Rating Proposals for religious properties – As part of the Annual Budget 2019/2020 consultation, Auckland Council is seeking feedback on a proposal to not charge rates to some types of land used by religious organisations. If the proposal is adopted, it may see a reduction in rates charged for land that your members use. A consultation period is open between 17 February 2019 and 17 March 2019 and you can contribute feedback online at akhaveyoursay.nz. Feedback forms and supporting information will also be available at libraries, local board offices and service centres, or you can request a copy to be mailed to you by emailing  akhaveyoursay@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz or calling 09 301 0101.

The Good Shop – The Salvation Army has launched the Good Shop initiative in response to mobile traders taking advantage of people already struggling with exploitative interest rates that trap people into debt. The initiative involves a roving truck offering financial advice, safe credit and quality goods at no interest.

What’s happening around NZCCSS

Kore Hiakai – Zero Hunger

The Kore Hiakai Zero Hunger Project is currently a collective of social service agencies focused on eliminating food poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand through finding lasting, structural, mana enhancing solutions.

We invite you to join us in seeking long term sustainable solutions to end food poverty and to ensure that all New Zealanders are empowered to source enough nutritious food in an ongoing way.

Save the date for one of our hui in March 2019.

  • Christchurch –  Tuesday 12 March
  • Auckland – Thursday 14 March
  • Wellington – Thursday 21 March

2019 Community Networks Aotearoa and NZ Council of Christian Social Services Joint Conference

Tātou tātou e! : The value of relationships and building wellbeing is the theme of the joint conference to be held on 27th and 28th August 2019 in Wellington. More information will be available shortly. Meanwhile, SAVE THE DATE!

Resources

Intergenerational Wellbeing and Public Policy: An Integrated Environmental, Social, and Economic Framework 

Authors: Girol Karacaoglu, Anita King and Jacek Krawczyk. The book offers a conversation on the design, implementation, and evaluation of public policy when the objective of policy is sustainable intergenerational wellbeing.

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