August 2, 2014

To be a beneficiary in Christchurch with an added ‘bonus’ of this reform will utterly destroy some

Secretariat
Social Services Select Committee
Parliament Buildings
WELLINGTON 6011
28 October 2012

Dear Sir/Madam,
Submission: Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill

On behalf of our family we wish to express our objection to the Social Security Amendment Bill.

To enforce a disadvantaged percentage of society i.e. beneficiaries, to undergo mandatory compliance (with specific references to sending children to an approved ECE provider for 15 hours a week beginning at age 3 and undergoing compulsory Child Wellness checks), goes against the fundamental human rights of families and individuals in our wonderful country to choose what is best for their children, whakapa and whanau. To punish happy and loving families, especially within different economic, cultural and religious backgrounds, will only damage and further disadvantage those who are already vulnerable.  Beneficiary families that we are in contact with are actively seeking to better their lives and especially those of their children in the face of economic recession and unfortunate circumstances.
Under close scrutiny the Bill is draconian and does not appear to be supported by any solid educational or social research for the requirements it lays out, nor does it have any statistical argument for doing so as shown by your own Ministry Paper.  Indeed we are taught in our Universities and Teachers Colleges that child development is optimised through family support and parents as first teachers. The home is where support should be instigated, if any. Many families already have talented and skilled educators or networks that can provide learning outcomes and milestones through private tutoring in the home, extended whanau, and community workshops. For families with older siblings the Bill may complicate the structural and psychological integrity and responsibilities of the core family unit. It will stretch resources such as travel requirements and healthy eating costs already depleted by constant price rises in fundamental household needs.
Whilst there are a small percentage of high profile cases that may show otherwise they are the exception to the rule and should not force a certain strata of society to be tainted as a whole.  Beneficiaries, despite the further stigma that you will be imposing, have the same rights as anyone else under international law as laid out by United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To force parents, especially mothers, into a theoretical work placement or into job training and take their children away from them flies in the face of fundamental child development processes. There are many academic examples to dismiss this idea. A mother should always be able to act as one in the home ensuring the safety and health of her child/children.

We are in Christchurch and have experienced earthquakes that have been devastating on a scale not seen before in New Zealand. The most vulnerable in the eastern suburbs have been affected by it. We await repairs to our damaged homes year after year and EQC make policy changes without any mandate of the people.  To be a beneficiary in Christchurch with an added ‘bonus’ of this reform will utterly destroy some. There are few jobs to go to if any and current changes to our educational structures would make this new policy change unworkable.

We already have a provision for a free 20 hours ECE per week.  As a family we believe we can offer a superior educational environment in the home than that of ECE and we already have the use of our local Playcentres for our young children as and when we require.

We also oppose sanctions for not complying with the social obligations to send our children to ECE or attend Wellness checks.  As well educated and informed parents we would object to any enforcement measures and those who object would be penalised and ultimately classified as criminals for non-compliance. It may even escalate petty crime, social dysfunction, and force families to separate for financial reasons.

This bill is overtly dangerous and counterproductive. It has no logical basis for its implementation and does not address the fundamental problem of eliminating child poverty. It does not promote healthy families, denies basic human rights, targets responsible parents, and ignores the cultural diversity of society.

The bill should be rejected in its entirety.

I would be happy to appear before the Committee to speak to my submission.

Yours faithfully,