Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Tēnā koe,

Welcome to the first issue of Policy Watch for 2022. Despite facing another uncertain and potentially disrupted year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic – and specifically, Omicron – there’s already plenty of work underway. In whatever way the rest of the year rolls out, we’ll continue to keep you updated on news, events and developments impacting our sector. Kia Kaha!

The Team at NZCCSS

NZCCSS submissions

NZCCSS has made a number of submissions over the last few months:

Accident Compensation (Maternal Birth Injury and Other Matters) Amendment Bill – NZCCSS supports extending ACC cover to include a range of maternal birth injuries as a step toward improved health outcomes for women addressing gender inequalities in current Accident Compensation legislation. Read more >

Mental Health Act – NZCCSS supports the repeal and replacement of the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992. NZCCSS contends that new legislation is urgently needed to reflect a wellbeing and recovery model of mental health, and to improve equity of care and treatment experienced by Māori and Pacific communities.  Read more > 

 Oversight of Oranga Tamariki and Children’s and Young Person’s Commissioner Bill – NZCCSS opposes this Bill and its intent to recreate the Children’s Commissioner’s Office, shifting the Office to a Council that is embedded within the Education Review Office. Read more > 

Read this Newsroom article for comments from a former Commissioner and the current Commissioner.

Treasury Living Standards – NZCCSS made a number of recommendations including that the standards should also specifically reference community and social services and include a specific child domain. It also recommended indicators be added that show how the tax structure improves wealth distribution and the impacts on Maori.  Read more > 

Crimes (Child Exploitation) Amendment Bill – NZCCSS supports the overarching whakaaro of this Bill but not it’s proposed implementation. NZCCSS’s concerns include that the burden of proving harm sits heavily with the victims, and that there is a lack of clarity around the definition of harm and what are harmful behaviours. Read more >  

Seminar on Results of the Youth19 Rangatahi Smart Survey

The Oranga Tamariki Evidence Centre’s next seminar will be held online tomorrow, Tuesday 15 February from 10:30am to 12 noon.

Associate Professor Terry Fleming and her colleagues present their findings from the reports from the Youth19 Rangatahi Smart Survey (Youth19.) Dr Fleming is a senior lecturer, an Associate Professor in population health at Victoria University of Wellington, and a long-standing member of the Adolescent Health Research Group.

The presentation compares outcomes between students who reported involvement with Oranga Tamariki, and those who did not, and cover the following domains: identity and cultural connectedness; housing and home life; health and wellbeing; community and safety; and a final report analysing the voice of young people currently involved with Oranga Tamariki using their open text responses.

There’ll be an opportunity for questions and discussion after the presentations.

Register for the webinar here.

Salvation Army State of the Nation report launching 16 February

The Salvation Army’s annual State of the Nation report is a snapshot of what hardship looks like for the people and whānau who come through its doors. The 2022 report is being launched this Wednesday (16 February) between 12-1pm.  Because of current COVID-19 restrictions, the report is being launched online. The Salvation Army warmly invites your attendance. You can join the launch here.

Boosting the booster

With Omicron in the community, the Ministry of Health has initiated February as “The Big Boost” month to increase focus on encouraging eligible New Zealanders to get their boosters now. Who is eligible? Anyone aged 18 years or over who’s had their second Pfizer dose at least 3 months ago.  And right now, we’re in the middle of “The Big Boost” week where the Ministry is making it as easy as possible for people to get their booster, with pop-up vaccination centres and extended hours.

If you have employees, the Ministry urges you to make it easy for them to get their booster.

Find out where the nearest booster sites are near you at BookMyVaccine.nz

Migrant worker entry restrictions gradually loosening

On February 3, the Government announced the phased reopening of key visa categories to address worker shortages:

From 11:59 pm, Sunday 13 March 2022

  • Open to skilled workers earning at least 1.5 times the median wage
  • Open to Working Holiday Scheme visas

From 11:59 pm, Tuesday 12 April 2022

  • Open to current offshore temporary visa holders, who can still meet the relevant visa requirements
  • Further class exceptions for critical workforces that do not meet the 1.5 times the median wage test will be considered

By July 2022

  • Open to anyone from Australia
  • Open for visa-waiver travel
  • The Accredited Employer Work Visa will open, meaning the skilled and health worker border exception can be phased out

October 2022

  • All visa categories fully reopen.

That is, of course, as things stand…

Income Insurance Scheme open for consultation

On 2 February, the Government announced details of its proposed Income Insurance Scheme and opened the proposal for consultation. The Scheme is intended to provide coverage for individuals losing their jobs through being laid off or redundancy, or through illness or disability. It is proposed to be funded by employers and workers, both of whom will have to pay a levy of 1.39%.

Find out more about the proposal and have your say here.

Submissions are open until 5pm, 26 April.

Nice idea, shame about the inequity

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) has a number of concerns with the proposed Income Insurance Scheme:

The proposed scheme is fuel for a two-tier welfare system. The scheme as proposed makes support available to people based on their current income and work history. This would fuel the emergence of a two-tier welfare system – unless benefits are concurrently lifted to the levels identified by the Welfare Expert Advisory Group in 2019.

The proposed scheme’s weaknesses reveal a lack in the diversity of thinking. The development of the scheme was closely held, with a noticeable lack of diversity of opinion, viewpoints and humans. It requires the rest of us to put a lot of faith in the consultation process to address the weaknesses.

The impact on household budgets of low-mid income earners. Already, many families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables. How would these families find the 1.39% contribution from their existing earnings?

The impact on Not-for-Profit/Community sector employers. The Not-for Profit/Community sector is largely Government funded and characteristically runs lean. Sector employers would be severely challenged to pay their portion without funders (the Government) raising funding by at least the same percentage.

NZCCSS is keen to see initiatives that genuinely lift wellbeing – but only initiatives that promote rather than diminish equity.

See NZCCSS’s full comments here.

Free fares campaign ramps up pre Budget

The Free Fares campaign is the initiative of the Aotearoa Collective for Public Transport Equity. The Collective is a coalition of 63 organisations and nine local councils, with support of 7,000 members of the public. Its campaign is calling on Government to make public transport free across all Aotearoa for Community Service Cardholders, tertiary students and under-25s. Why? The Collective maintains that the high cost of public transport means that many people can only afford to travel by private car, causing congestion and harmful carbon emissions. It also means that some people don’t travel at all, with the result that their wellbeing and communities suffer.

The campaign is now in high gear over the next weeks with the aim of influencing the Budget.

NZCCSS is one of the organisations supporting the campaign. You too can add weight to the call. Find out how here.

NZ’s first Aged Care Commissioner appointed

Minister for Seniors and Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall today announced the appointment of Carolyn Cooper as the inaugural Aged Care Commissioner, to lead systematic change in the sector. The Aged Care Commissioner will report through the Health and Disability Commissioner.

Ms Cooper has over 40 years of experience across health systems in both New Zealand and Australia, starting her career as a registered general and obstetric nurse. Her career spans governance, executive and clinical leadership roles across District Health Boards, aged care, rehabilitation and quality and risk management.

Ms Cooper has been appointed for a five-year term and will take up her role in March 2022.

Read more >

Elder Abuse Prevention Fund now open

As many as one in ten older New Zealanders experience some kind of elder abuse. Those experiencing abuse come from all ethnicities, genders and socio-economic groups. The abuse is most often committed by a person/people of trust.

The Office for Seniors’ Elder Abuse Prevention Fund provides grants of up to $25,000 for innovative community-based initiatives that raise awareness of elder abuse. The focus of the Fund spans diverse groups within the older population including Māori, Pacific, ethnic communities, LGBTQIA+, and disabled people.

The Fund is now open and accepting applications for projects that support the violence prevention needs of older people (aged 65+) in Aotearoa New Zealand. Applications must be in by 1 April 2022.

Find out more here.

Improving lives of older people, their families and communities

The UN Decade of Healthy Ageing is a global collaboration that brings together diverse sectors and stakeholders including governments, civil society, international organisations, professionals, academic institutions, the media and the private sector to improve the lives of older people, their families and communities.

The collaboration focusses on four areas of action:

  • changing how we think, feel and act towards age and ageing
  • developing communities in ways that foster the abilities of older https://www.decadeofhealthyageing.orgpeople
  • delivering person-centred integrated care and primary health services responsive to older people
  • providing older people who need it with access to long-term care.

The Decade is using an online platform to make a large amount of knowledge available to help those working to improve the lives of older people, their families, and their communities.

You can use the platform to find resources, or submit them. Go to Decade of Health Ageing here:

We welcome your feedback on POLICY WATCH and other publications produced by the Council, email: comms@nzccss.org.nz

 

Ngā mihi nui
From all of us in the team at NZCCSS