Policy Watch August 2020

See with the eyes of love and a thing becomes beautiful. See with the eyes of hate and things are ugly.” Joy Cowley.

Welcome to the latest Policy Watch e-newsletter highlighting the latest news, research and policy developments relevant to NZCCSS’ core mission to work for a just and compassionate society in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We begin this newsletter with an acknowledgement of the courage and grace of the families whose family members were killed in the Mosque tragedy in Christchurch last year, as they remember their loved ones and the day their lives changed forever at the sentencing process at the Christchurch High Court last week. He mihi aroha ki ngā whanau o rātou i hinga. Ki te hunga mate, rātou ki a rātou. Ki te hunga ora, tātou ki a tātou. Kia tau te rangimarie.

Covid-19 returns

Covid-19 continues to disrupt our lives. The Auckland region and particularly Pacific families and communities have been the hardest hit this time around. Their responsiveness to Covid-19 testing and quarantine has been instrumental in slowing down the spread of the virus, but we know from the first wave, this virus has a long tail and more cases are likely. 

Covid-19 Alert level update

From today (Monday 31 August) Auckland is at Alert level 2.5 and the rest of the county is at Alert level 2. These settings will be in place for 1 week, and will be reviewed again before Sunday 6 September 2020. 

Testing – The Government is asking people in West and South Auckland to be tested for Covid-19 if they have cold or flu symptoms.

Masks – mandatory when using public transport at level 2 and above. There are a number of exemptions. For further information click here.

Masks – Aucklanders are encouraged to wear a mask when they step out of the door as a precaution (not mandatory).

The Covid-19 QR code – Mandatory display of the QR Code on public transport from Friday, 4 September.

Gatherings – Auckland – no more than 10 people at any gathering except tangihanga and funerals where the maximum is 50 people. The rest of the country will follow level 2 gathering limits (no more than 100).

A poverty and inequality lens on Covid-19 cases

As we learn more about this virus, public health experts are increasingly concerned for Pacific and Māori communities. Poverty-related housing conditions (overcrowded and damp housing) alongside poverty related health issues (respiratory disease, diabetes and heart disease) are likely to place Pacific and Māori communities at an increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19. There is also new information from the Public Health Otago on the risk of Covid-19 for children and young people, again particularly for Pacific and Māori communities. When we consider the impacts of Covid-19 through a poverty and inequality lens, the same groups are identified as being most at risk. This is not accidental. It is time to address structural inequalities which underpin income, housing and health disparities. 

Demand for food is rising in Auckland 

Community services are struggling to respond to yet another round of unprecedented demand for food and other essentials during the second wave of Covid-19 and alert level 3 restrictions. Auckland City Missioner, Chris Farrelly said his organisation has given out three times as many food parcels as the same time last year (1200 a week) and he is planning for this situation to be long-term, not short-term. People newly redundant, students, new migrant and families make up the demographic of those seeking help, but following the pattern of the GFC, women are the predominate gender seeking food assistance.

On a national level, the data on Special Needs Grants (SNG) for food by the Ministry of Social Development, reflects the growing need for food assistance that has been exacerbated by Covid-19. The most up to date data June 2020 shows the number of SNG has increased 333,813 during the June 2020 quarter when compared to the June 2019 quarter. These figures are before the second wave of Covid-19 in Auckland. The September SNG grants will likely paint an even greater picture of food stress as job losses continue around the country and the wage subsidy ends.

Cross-party support for Community Housing Providers

Chair of Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA), Bernie Smith was ‘pleasantly surprised’ by the broad support community housing providers received from politicians attending a CHA-sponsored webinar held last week. The webinar featured a policy discussion involving ACT’s Karen Chhour, Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson, Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere, National’s Simon O’Connor, and TOP leader Geoff Simmons. Bernie advised “While there were a number of different views on the causes of the current crisis, there was a general consensus that solutions needed to reflect individual communities’ needs, and that involving the community housing sector was one way to ensure that would happen”.

New survey on Covid-19 income relief payment

Early findings from a new survey give weight to calls to urgently lift benefit levels. The University of Auckland, Child Poverty Action Group Auckland Action Against Poverty, and FIRST Union are collaborating on a survey to compare the experiences of people receiving different types of income support (Job Seeker Support; Sole Parent Support; Supported Living Payment; Youth Payment; Young Parent Payment). Louise Humpage, lead researcher, at the University of Auckland, found those receiving the Covid-19 income relief payment ($490 a week) are fairing better than those on other income support payments ($250). This is in spite of the Government’s $25 a week increase to benefits announced by the Government earlier in March. NZCCSS looks forward to reading the findings of this report once available.

Election 2020: 17 October 2020

Election 2020 has been postponed to 17 October 2020 in response to the second wave of Covid-19 in the Auckland region.

What to look out for in September?

  • NZCCSS – Election Statement – to be released soon.
  • The Equality Network – Political Scorecard
  • Tick for Kids – Political Scorecard
  • Election Forum 2020: Enough for All.16 September. 6pm-7.30pm. Online. Hosted by the Equality Network with partners the Anglican Movement, Action Station, Tick for Kids and Child Poverty Action Group.

Election Resources released

SPPA Good Information Sharing for Child Wellbeing

A joint-venture capability development programme of SSPA and NZCCSS

Held nationwide in September at no cost to you

Registrations are now open – check your region and the date for your local workshop here.

The half day workshop will support the implementation of the information sharing provisions in the Oranga Tamariki Act that came into force on 1 July 2019. It is an interactive session that aims to promote good information sharing practice across professionals in the child welfare and protection.

The workshop is open to front line staff as well as supervisors and managers from both NGOs and Oranga Tamariki and aims to:

• support consistent understanding of the information sharing requirements

• help build strong regional connections.

Good information sharing practice across the social service sector significantly contributes to the wellbeing and safety of tamariki. These regional workshops are an important and exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of the social sector’s responsiveness to the changes to information sharing.

It will also provide a launching point for on-going communities of practice that enhance the sector’s capacity to effectively support tamariki wellbeing. Benefit from the chance to share insights, connect with others in your region and deepen your own information sharing practice. Further information: Email: admin@sspa.org.nz,or phone 027 5101517

Social Justice Week 6-12 September

Easy as CST: Unlocking the Church’s Potential, focussing on Catholic social teaching (CST) is the theme selected by the Catholic Bishops of New Zealand for this year’s Social Justice Week, 6-12 September 2020.  Resources are available for download on Caritas NZ website: You will also find more information on the CST principles which include background information, case studies, scripture and CST links, action ideas and prayers.

Funding support to NGOs

Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of a well-resourced community sector. Below are 2 new funding sources for NGOs.

MSD – Community Capability and Resilience Fund – $36 Million

The Community Capability and Resilience Fund (CCRF) is a fund available to community groups for initiatives that support the rebuild and recovery from COVID-19. The $36 million fund is available from 1 August 2020 to support communities over the next two years.
The CCRF builds on the success of the Community Awareness and Preparedness Grant Fund

(CAP Fund), which was established by the government to provide immediate support to communities during the COVID-19 lockdown. The CCRF allows the success of the CAP Fund to continue on a larger scale. Like the CAP Fund, the purpose of the CCRF is to provide assistance and support for community groups working with priority populations as they respond, rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
To read more Click here

New Lottery Covid-19 Initiative Fund – $40 Million
The Right Honourable Tracey Martin has announced the ‘Lottery COVID-19 Community Wellbeing Fund’ of $40 million to focus on Community and Social initiatives.

“Community groups responded incredibly to the initial lockdown and continue to play a vital role in supporting the most vulnerable people and communities,” Minister Martin said.

“The Lottery Grants Board wants to help these groups as they provide support, rebuild and strengthen our communities and help with the recovery.

“The funding will be able to be used to support groups that have lost access to funding sources, have extra demand on their services or are now working in different ways in responding to COVID-19.” 

The Fund will provide one-off grants and is expected to be up and running in the last quarter of the year. To read more Click here.

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