To the Honourable Members of Parliament
In charge of the Select Committee for the
Social Security Ammendment Bill
I wish to present to you a submission regarding the four social obligations which are proposed to be applied to all beneficiary parents under the amended law.
“These require beneficiary parents to take all reasonable steps to have their dependent child:
- aged 3 years or over, enrolled in and attending early childhood education until they start school; and
- enrolled in and attending school from age of 5 (or 6) years depending on when the child first starts school; and
- enrolled with a primary health care provider; and
- up-to-date with the core Well Child checks.
These obligations will apply universally to all beneficiaries with dependent children “
I believe that these requirements would be detrimental to the well-being of children were they to be enforced by law. Often children whose parents have had to go on a benefit (particularly widows or solo parent benefits), have already had to deal with the grief of losing one parent to death or divorce. For the second parent to be effectively taken away from them as well except on weekends and for a brief time in the evenings, is likely to be terribly traumatic.
Three year olds are far too young to be away from their parents without considerable damage to their development especially in social skills but also in confidence and security. In fact many five year olds are not ready either. Parents have a right and resonsibility to choose what type of education to give their child, based on the needs and philosophy of their own family.
You must not allow the good goal of trying to reduce social welfare dependency erode these areas of autonomy. They are enshrined in law.
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs there is and the fact that it does not bring in an income does not mean it is not incredibly valuable to society if done well. I would suggest that the few parents who chose to reject the government’s generous offer of early child care and state funded education, are doing so because they take very seriously their role in their childs lives.
Presently a decision to home educate a child saves the country thousands of dollars per year. It is not easy to get an exemption certificate (from enrollment in a registerd school) and there are regualr declarations required to be witnessed as well as the Education Review Office system as a safe guard.
A stay at home parent may be able to manage a home based business, perhaps even involving the children which teaches them valuable character qualities and life skills as well a the opportunity to learn a good work ethic. My children have earned money by collecting and selling pinecones; raising animals and selling them, or their products (eggs and wool); running cake stalls and lemonade stands; helping their Father stock take and recycle metal; etc. They have been taught to budget and manage their own money wisely and generously. They also have much more opportunity to explore and learn by doing than children in a classroom.
It is a well documented fact that children thrive in a safe home environment where they are guided in their learning by a loving adult who knows their learning style and can give them far more attention than a school teacher or 30 students who only has them for a year.
The children educated in such homes usually become confident leaders, discerning and reliable citizens with excellent character and plenty of ingenuity. Yes it might mean a bit of lost taxes for a few years, but the long term benefit of these families far outweighs the investment.
I would also venture to suggest that for a parent to reject free immunisation; and free well child check ups, they must have a good reason. In our case it is primarily because we have done our own research into the dangers of immunisation and have decided that it is not worth the risk to expose our little ones to this invasive and poorly researched procedure. We choose to make our diet and life-style our main health investment, although we will use a family Doctor if we need one. I don’t see any need to register the children with a doctor unless they are unwell. (More tax money we save you by doing it ourselves!)
I am an experienced mother with 8 healthy children and no longer need the services of the plunket nurse system either. I go to our doctor if the children are failing to thrive in some area, and have at times greatly benefitted from specialist allerologist and nutritianists when some of my children had allergies. This has proved so effective they that all out grew their allergies by the age of six at the latest, and usually much younger.
Although I am not a beneficiary myself my mother spent some years on the DPB after my father deserted her. She chose to put my three youngest siblings in school (they had previously been homeschooled), so she could train for and go into the work force. This left her exhausted emotionally and physically and I was very distrubed by the trauma my siblings manifested by not having her there for them. Thankfully I was able to move to be closer to them and provide a place for them to come home to, but it was no substitute for a mum. It was like they were orphans with BOTH parents having abandonded them. I begged her to come home and let us suppliment her DPB income, but she had been raised with the idea that it was shameful to be dependent on the tax payer for her livelihood so she refused. How much harder will it be for Mothers to make the decision to care for their children themselves if this bill passes, making it not just a financial battle but a LEGAL battle to do what is best for their children?
In conclusion I would urge you to continue to encourage the beneficiaries to work hard for their living, but not to undervalue the few who choose to do their hard work as full time (albeit unpaid), Mothers and Fathers. This is an extreamly important career choice and must not be taken away from those who decide to make the sacrifices to persue it.
Thank you for considering these matters. I am aware that I have not provided citations for many of my assertions. If you would like me to do so please let me know. I have had time pressures and so was not able to put the research time into this submission as I usually do in such matters.