Call for social security not welfare

Press Release – Welfare Justice

Residents of Hamilton and Rotorua turned out to express their concerns about welfare changes at public meetings this week. The meetings conclude a month long series of public meetings from Whangarei to Invercargill held by Welfare Justice – the Alternative …MEDIA RELEASE: Welfare Justice (Alternative Welfare Working Group)
30 September 2010

Call for social security not welfare: Hamilton and Rotorua conclude Alternative Welfare Working Group public meetings

Residents of Hamilton and Rotorua turned out to express their concerns about welfare changes at public meetings this week. The meetings conclude a month long series of public meetings from Whangarei to Invercargill held by Welfare Justice – the Alternative Welfare Working Group.

The Hamilton meeting on Monday 27 September was hosted by Poverty Action Waikato. Spokesperson Rose Black says participants called for social security, not welfare. “We want the government to re-instate and honour the five principle tenets of our social security system – full employment, adequate income, affordable housing, quality healthcare and accessible education. We simply can’t push people into jobs when there aren’t any.”

The Rotorua meeting was hosted by the Rotorua Peoples Advocacy Centre. Welfare Justice member Sue Bradford says there was a refreshing keenness on the part of those who attended to take action themselves on welfare issues. “One of the messages to come through was how wonderful it would be if beneficiaries could get psychological and social support and assistance – rather than just benefits and harassment – from the state. This would in fact help people in all sorts of ways, including in their ability to move to work, education or training;”

Welfare Justice is commissioned by Church and community agencies to write an alternative report to that expected by the government-appointed Welfare Working Group. Beneficiaries, people with disabilities, sole parents and community workers have been among the many participants over the past month at the meetings, held in Whangarei, Auckland, Manurewa, Hamilton, Rotorua,
Upper Hutt, Wellington, Porirua, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill..

Welfare Justice Chair Mike O’Brien says that despite a community project-sized budget many times smaller than the government group’s reported $1.1 million, and no fees, wages or dedicated staff time, the alternative project had so far succeeded in its aims of increasing input and participation in the public welfare debate by members of the community most likely to be affected by welfare changes.

“Beneficiaries have talked a lot about benefit bashing and about being scared about current directions, which is partly about the broad social values and partly about their treatment in the WINZ office – the two are connected,” Dr O’Brien said. Submissions to the Alternative Welfare Working formally close on 30 September, as the group begins the task of writing an
alternative report.

Ends.
Background information:
Welfare Justice – the Alternative Welfare Working Group – has been commissioned by Catholic social justice agency Caritas, the Social Justice Commission of the Anglican Church and the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation of New Zealand to write an alternative report which will be presented to the Minister of Social Development.

More information is here: http://welfarejustice.org.nz

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