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Bennett’s ‘social obligations’ are unfair
By Suzannah Rowntree
Minister for Social Development Paula Bennett must be behind on her kindergarten quota.
The ministry’s ‘Supporting Vulnerable Children’ crusade pledges a 98% early childhood education attendance rate throughout the country by 2016, to say nothing of a 95% immunisation rate.
You’d think this quota would depend on the willingness of parents to comply.
But instead of trusting people to make informed decisions about surrendering their preschoolers to strangers or having them injected with chemical cocktails, Bennett’s new slew of welfare reforms makes preschool attendance and the statesponsored Well Child checks compulsory for beneficiaries.
Under the “social obligations” of the new Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill, parents receiving a benefit will be compelled to send their children to an approved preschool from the age of three, ensure regular school attendance from the age of six, register children at birth with an approved healthcare providerand attend all Well Child checks.
Who knew losing your job disqualified you from making decisions about your children’s health and education?
Bennett insists that the reforms are not invasive or coercive. “It doesn’t feel like I’m going into their homes and telling them exactly what to do, it just feels like I’m trying to put the right kind of care around themand their kids.”
Well, that’s nice for you, Paula, but feelings don’t always reflect reality. Let’s look at the sanctions that await recalcitrant free-thinkers.
Parents who refuse to cooperate with the compulsory programme will undergo three stages of “support contact” with WINZ to “encourage” them to submit to their “social obligations”. Parents who continue to show evidence of independent thought after this will have their benefit slashed by 50%. And in case anyone should be foolhardy enough to continue defying their benevolent overlords, “there are operational processes in place for clients to be referred to CYFS or fraud investigation if they continue on a 50% sanction,” according to the MSD’s Welfare Reform Paper E.
The Bill reflects these sanctions, dressing the CYFS threat up as “intensified case management support”. There’s literally no choice for parents who just want to opt out.
The structure targets responsible parents making principled educational or medical decisions for their children. Not irresponsible parents with neglected children, unless you want to redefine irresponsible as committed to providing better educational alternatives than those available at the local “cookie cutter kinder”.
But this legislation doesn’t just affect beneficiaries who want their three to five-year-old children to learn in a rich and stimulating home environment. It should also be a concern to everyone who sees that 98% early childhood education and 95% immunisation quota.
Because the Social Security Reform Bill proves one thing. If coercion is needed to achieve this goal, coercion is what we’ll have. If the MSD believes it knows best, and is willing to impose its vision on beneficiaries, why should it stop at them? Today the beneficiaries, tomorrow the rest of us.
Submissions to the committee are due by November 1, 2012. For more information and help making a submission, visit hef.org.nz
Suzannah Rowntree is paralegal
for the Home Education Foundation.
- Possible timeline for Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill
- Media Release 3 – Social Security Bill’s ECE Obligations Breach Human Rights
- Media Release 2 – Vulnerable Children Not Benefited By Social Security Bill
- Media Release 1 – Social Security Bill Coerces Parents, Removes Freedom
- Make a submission: Reject compulsory Early Education for 3 year olds
- Some of the main links
- Comment on Q+A: Social Development Minister Paula Bennett
- Human Rights in New Zealand Today: The right to education
- Raymond S. Moore on Early Childhood Centres
- Should preschool be compulsory?
- TVNZ One this morning Q&A with Paula Bennett
- Maxim Institute: What is best for children?
- HUGE Concerns over the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill
- Letter from Paula Bennett concerning beneficaries and home education
- Toby Manhire on Benefit-slaying Nats starting to look plain nasty
- Linking welfare to preschool attendance a world first
- New Update on: How will the new Social obligations which will be required of all beneficiary parents effect home schoolers?
- How will the new Social obligations which will be required of all beneficiary parents effect home schoolers?
From the Smiths:
Updated 5 October 2012: One year on (Craig Smith’s Health) page 7 click here
Needing help for your home schooling journey:
Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:
This link is motivational:
Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill