18 March 2013
Private Bag 18888
Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill
Select Committee Report
We refer to the abovenamed Bill. As you are probably aware, along with many New Zealand families we are concerned about the Social Obligations in the Bill, which will remove the rights of beneficiary parents to make informed and independent decisions for the wellbeing of their whanau. We believe, along with the New Zealand Law Society and an overwhelming number of submissions on the Bill, that this is discriminatory and unfair to beneficiaries.
We were very disappointed to read the Select Committee’s report on the Bill. The majority report failed to address our main point of concern, which is preschool-aged beneficiary children being forced to attend ECE and health checks.
The Committee majority recommends that parents should be allowed to home educate their 5-year-olds under the Bill, but does not provide the same home care option for 3-4-year-olds. We are surprised that the Committee should allow 5-year-olds to remain at home under parental care, but not 3-4-year-olds who are less likely to cope with the emotional trauma of being parted from their family.
This concession also fails to address the concerns of home educating parents who wish to provide early education within the context of their own family, without joining a local home-based playgroup.
The Committee majority also did not provide for parents who prefer to personally oversee their children’s health care and choose what health checks and doctors their children will attend without registration being required.
We are also concerned about the work obligations for mothers to work 15 hours per week when their youngest child turns 5. Others such as the Auckland Women’s Centre and the Psychological Society of New Zealand have expressed concern about the impact on women and children of having to work such long hours while their children are young. Like these organisations, we believe that this sends a message that women’s work caring for children at home and building stable families is less valuable and of less worth to society than paid employment. It was disappointing that the majority of the Select Committee did not address this.
Nevertheless we were pleased to see some recognition of the discrimination and harm which will result from the Bill in the minority views of the Labour, Greens, and NZ First parties.
We respectfully urge you not to vote for the Bill at the Second Reading if it contains these harmful and discriminatory Social Obligations, sanctions and work focus provisions.
The Home Education Foundation of New Zealand