How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant
of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been
all of these.


Summary of recent NZCCSS submissions

Over the last few weeks the NZCCSS secretariat worked with our policy groups to provide comment on a couple of government consultations:

Submission to the Productivity Commission – immigration, productivity and wellbeing

Submission emphasising the need to accelerate and simplify the pathway to attract new migrant and care workers who are a valued part of the aged care sector. Read here.

Submission to the Ministry of Health – Strategy to Prevent and Minimise Gambling Harm 
Submission outlining NZCCSS concerns around the direct and indirect consequences of problem gambling. Read here.


Information resources 

While waiting on the Government to release more definitive advice on COVID vaccination mandates in the workplace, NZCCSS has produced a trio of information resources to provide an overview and some context, plus helpful links to further information including a range of legal views.

Read an overview on the vaccination context here.

Read a collation of workforce guidance here.

Read about a range of publicly available legal opinions on vaccinations and employment here.

The issue of vaccination and employment is a constantly evolving issue so the information we’ve provided is a picture as at 17 October. We will provide updates as further information is available here. Keep an eye on our website here.

NZCCSS finds narrative unhelpful 

There’s a narrative that’s slipped into usage in the daily 1pm media updates – that “COVID is seeking out the vulnerable.”

It is not. The COVID-19 coronavirus cannot distinguish between postcodes, ethnicity or socio-economic distinctions – or any other demographic. Are the vulnerable communities of Aotearoa New Zealand more at risk? Absolutely. That’s because of the societal infrastructure that has become embedded in this country over decades.  Years of less-than-liveable incomes, lack of secure, safe and affordable housing, and rapidly declining access to affordable nutritious food are behind the vulnerability of a growing number of New Zealanders.

While the talk of a vulnerability-stalking virus may be an attempt to encourage those most at risk to get vaccinated, it’s not accurate and it’s not helpful.

It’s understandable that the focus of the nation’s decisionmakers is on the battle against COVID-19. The battle is real. But so are the inequalities in our society that sees the poor and vulnerable paying a bigger price than everyone else. It’s time to stop imbuing COVID-19 with attributes it doesn’t have. It’s time to get real about fixing the infrastructure of inequality: liveable incomes; quality, genuinely affordable housing; access to nutritious, affordable food – for all.  Bringing forward the slated 2022 benefit increases to this side of Christmas would be one good step forward.

Vaxathon ups the numbers 

If you’re of certain vintage, you might recall the popular telly phenomena that was Telethon. Last Saturday – Super Saturday (16 October) – Aotearoa New Zealand experienced its first ‘Vaxathon’. Broadcast on multiple platform the Vaxathon particularly targeted encouraging uptake amongst young Māori, Pacific and tāngata whaikaha (those living with a disability).

The event delivered – just short of 130,000 doses were given at Super Saturday events around the motu. Of those doses, 29,024 were first doses and 90971 were second.  The event saw the biggest ever one-day vaccine update for Maori with more that 21,000 getting vaccinated – around half of which were first doses. And 4223 Pasifika received their first doses and 8093 their second.

Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker is calling for more such mass vaccination events.

Read more of the event’s success here.

Aged care business providers included in rapid antigen tests trial 

A coalition of around 25 businesses across a range of sectors was last week granted an exemption by the Director-General of Health, to import and use approved rapid antigen tests.

Rapid antigen testing can provide a result within around 15 minutes. But they tend to be less sensitive at detecting cases, so PCR tests will remain the mainstay of COVID-19 testing in most situation

The coalition of businesses covers industries including manufacturing, energy, food production, telecommunications, freight, aviation and aged care. They have signed up to a charter with MBIE and the Ministry of Health, committing to work together and share insights to inform any wider roll-out of rapid antigen testing to other work.

Read more about the tests trial here.

Quantifying the value of the for-purpose sector  

The value of the for-purpose is significant, valuable and crucial to the hauora of Aotearoa. Anyone working in the sector knows that. However, just how valuable is quantified in the latest JB Were Cause report launched last week.

According to the report, in 2018 the sector contributed 4.2% to the GDP of Aotearoa. By comparison, New Zealand’s primary industry contributed 7%.

Here are some of the report’s other findings…

  • Sector income growth rate over the last decade averaged 7% pa – against an expense growth rate of the same or slightly higher keeping operating surplus at or below 10% . Organisations are consequently operating on tight margins, which leaves little room to improve overall resilience and explore innovation.
  • The sector’s labour force saw changes in the increase of full-time staff and the shift from permanent part-time to contract staff.
  • Volunteerism continues to be of critical importance at a $4b pa value to the New Zealand GDP, an average 234,618 Kiwis volunteer each week and 9 in 10 organisations rely solely on a volunteer workforce.

Access the report here.

New change to housing intensification rules to spur development 

In a bipartisan initiative, the Government and the National Party today jointly announced new housing intensification rules that allow up to three homes three storeys high to be built on most sites without resource consent. This is change from previous rules typically allowing for one home of up to two storeys.

Exemptions will apply in areas where intensification is inappropriate such as where there’s a high risk of natural hazards or a site has heritage value.

The rule changes are designed to accelerate the number of new home builds. Modelling by PwC suggests that the new rules will see 48,500 to 105,500 new homes built in the next five to eight years.

The changes will be effected by a new Bill amending the Resource Management Act. The bill is paired with a speed-up of the Government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) and will require Councils to have intensification policies in place by August 2023.

Read more on the rule changes in this Stuff article here.

Whai Kāinga, Whai Oranga Māori housing investment  

Applications to the Whai Kāinga, Whai Oranga open this week – Wednesday, 20 October 2021- to provide $730 million of investment and support for Māori to determine their own housing solutions.

Whai Kāinga, Whai Oranga has been established to provide investment for:

  • Increasing organisational capability and capacity to deliver Māori-led housing solutions.
  • Delivery of new or upgraded infrastructure to increase the supply of build ready land.
  • Repairs for whanau Māori homes to improve housing quality in the immediate term.
  • Housing projects that increase the supply of housing provided by Māori.

Find out about eligibility and how to apply here.


New Children’s Commissioner announced 

Judge Frances Eivers will Aotearoa New Zealand’s next Children’s Commissioner. Judge Eivers is Ngāti Maniapoto and Waikato. She is currently a District Court Judge in Manukau, working extensively with mokopuna in courts. Judge Eivers will be starting on the 1st of November, when she takes over the role from current Commissoner, Andrew Becroft.

Government debt level rising – but by less than expected 

Net care Crown debt increased from $83.4b to $102b in the past year lower than the more gloomy forecast of $113.7 feared following borrowing to support wellbeing and the viability of businesses as the pandemic grinds on. A higher tax take – double what was budgeted – tax revenue up to $98 billion – double the budgeted increase.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has stated that he will continue with his ’balanced approach’ which is defined as investing heavily to support wellbeing, a transition to a low carbon economy and to improve productivity, while carefully managing resources with an eye to the long-term sustainability of the economy.

Advisory Board report on Oranga Tamariki 

The Government has accepted the recommendations of the Ministerial Advisory Board set up to provide advice on how to fix the child care and protection system.

The recommendations from the Board’s report Hipokingia ki te Kahu Aroha Hipokingia ki te Katoa included:

  • Shifting decision making and resources to communities, with children and whānau at the centre of the system
  • Developing a new operating model, with better support and training for social workers
  • Restricting ‘without notice’ orders (uplifts) only after proper engagement with whanau.

The report reflected a shift in focus from reaction to prevention in order to reduce harm and reducing the number of tamariki entering the system.  The Board highlighted the importance of:

  • Shared decision-making
  • Equitable distribution of resources
  • The need for Oranga Tamariki to not just develop strategies that enable and empower tamariki, whānau, and communities but to operationalise those strategies into action on the ground.

An accompanying Action Plan has been developed to ensure the recommended changes are implemented

Read the Ministerial Advisory Board’s report here.

Read the Oranga Tamariki Future Direction Action Plan here.

Report into the economic impacts of Dementia  

The Hon Ayesha Verrall launched the Dementia Economic Impact Report in late September. Prepared for Alzheimers NZ by the University of Auckland, the report provides estimates of the prevalence and costs of dementia in New Zealand and projections for the future.

Confirming that dementia is a major and rapidly growing problem for Aotearoa New Zealand, the report indicates nearly three per cent of all Aotearoa New Zealanders will have dementia by 2050, including over 10 per cent of our 65+ population. This is a 240 per cent increase in dementia numbers in the next 30 years. The Report also confirms the likelihood of significant equity issues affecting the dementia community due to the rapid growth of the condition among Māori and Pasifika communities.

Read the report here.

Conference – Living with dementia: Taking action for a better future 

Alzheimers NZ is hosting its 2021 conference online on 18-19 November.  ‘Living with dementia: Taking action for a better future’ Te noho rangatira me te mate wareware: Te kōkiri kaupapa mō ngā rā e tū mai nei will present a range of compelling insights to make a real difference for people living with dementia. Presentations will demonstrate how reflection and learning from changing and challenging times can support human rights and wellbeing.  Conference themes include:

  • Dementia rights are human rights
  • Becoming dementia friendly
  • Initiatives that make a difference
  • Supporting our diversity
  • Preserving well-being in times of community crisis.

Find out more about the conference here.

See the conference programme here.

Register for the conference here.


Mid-term review report into Mental Health and Addiction 

As part of Budget 2019, the Government allocated $1.9bn in response to He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction (He Ara Oranga), particularly to significantly enhance support available to people with mental health and addiction issues in the community.

A mid-term review was commissioned by Ministers in July 2021 to focus on the delivery of the outputs, risks and barriers to delivery and whether the appropriate governance, planning, reporting mechanisms are in place.

The review finds that strong progress is being made and that most initiatives are on track to deliver or have already delivered their intended outputs by 2023/24. Because they are at an earlier stage of development, key outputs for tailored services for Māori and Pasifika people aren’t yet able to be assessed.

Growing, developing and retaining a suitably qualified workforce is cited as the main risk to delivery by the agencies under review, a risk the review suggests will be mitigated by strengthened system, leadership and governance

Read the review report here.