October 3, 2023

Media Release 24 – Well Child Obligations Target Families for “Surveillance”

Families Children and Parents Together

Media Release – Well Child Obligations Target Families for “Surveillance

April 5, 2013

Palmerston North, NZ – Minister for Social Development Paula Bennett’s Social Security Bill passed its second reading on Wednesday, 20 March, by a narrow one-vote margin and will soon progress to a third reading vote. The Bill’s “social obligations”, which will remove beneficiary parents’ right to make decisions for their children’s health and education, came under scrutiny from Greens MP Metiria Turei during the Second Reading Debate. According to Ms Turei, Minister for Health Tony Ryall has warned that the social obligations will put the health of children at risk, but his concerns have been ignored by Paula Bennett.

“This Minister knows that children will suffer as a result of this bill,” said Ms Turei during her speech. “They know that fewer children will access health care. They know that fewer children will get medicine.”

Under the Bill, Well Child/Tamariki Ora checks will be compulsory for children of beneficiaries. The Ministry of Health objected to the social obligations in the Bill, saying, “There are risks to the Well Child programme if the checks are seen as a punishment or a sanction. One of the valuable traits of Well Child has been that it is non-threatening with a high degree of public and family acceptability.”

Ms Turai also quoted Health Minister Tony Ryall saying that the social obligations for Well Child checks would case “substantial negative impacts on families and to vulnerable children, including risks of increased maltreatment and neglect.”

“We also expect that beneficiaries sanctioned under the Bill will be more likely to defer health care and present at emergency departments,” Mr Ryall said.

Ms Turei says that the Bill’s social obligations seek to use the Well Child checks to run “surveillance” on beneficiary families. “In July 2012 the Ministry of Health asked the Ministry of Social Development to amend the wording of a paper that was going to Cabinet. The Ministry of Health said, ‘Please remove the word “surveillance”. The Well Child programme is not designed or intended as a mechanism for surveillance of beneficiary families or indeed any families.’”

“This shows what the intention of Paula Bennett was then, and is still now,” said Ms Turei.

When asked about these concerns during debate, Ms Bennett’s answer was revealing. “We think it is incredibly damaging not to have your child enrolled for Well Child checks…It is actually incredibly damaging not to have them immunised.”

“This is horrendous,” says Barbara Smith of the Home Education Foundation. “It just confirms what so many parents in New Zealand have been afraid of—that these compulsory health checks will be used to enforce Paula Bennett’s 95% immunisation goal.

“They will be used to carry out surveillance on families. They will be used to promote treatments like immunisation, which is a parent’s choice.

“Responsible parents don’t want to be spied on. They don’t want to be pressured by government agencies into treatments they believe are harmful.

“They want to make their own informed decisions.”

Metiria Turei says, “That is what the Government is removing from parents: the right to decide for themselves what is in the best interests of their child.”

Mrs Smith encourages concerned New Zealanders to write, call, and ring their MPs before the Bill’s Third Reading within the next week or two.

“The Bill passed its Second Reading by only one vote, 61-60,” she says.

“We particularly need to contact the Honourable Members for Epsom and Ohariu, John Banks and Peter Dunne, who have the option of changing their votes.

“We only need one more vote to make history.”

More information on the bill, together with contact details for MPs, can be found at www.hef.org.nz.

About the Home Education Foundation

The Home Education Foundation has been informing parents for 28 years about the fantastic opportunity to de-institutionalise our sons and daughters and to embrace the spiritual, intellectual and academic freedom that is ours for the taking. Through conferences, journals, newsletters and all kinds of personal communications, we explain the vision of handcrafting each child into a unique individual, complete with virtuous character, a hunger for service to others, academic acumen and a strong work ethic. For more information, please visit www.hef.org.nz or more specifically hef.org.nz/2012/make-a-submission-reject-compulsory-early-education-for-3-year-olds/



If you have not emailed and/or rung Peter Dunne and John Banks this week please do so immediately.

Peter Dunne: peter.dunne@parliament.govt.nz, ohariu.mp@parliament.govt.nz, sue.locke@parliament.govt.nz

John Banks: johnbanks.epsom@parliament.govt.nz, john.banks@act.org.nz

Put in your subject line as the MPs might not be able to read every email if they get a lot of emails: Please vote against the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill

My emails for you to use as a guide targeting their stand on this issue from their Party ideals:

Peter Dunne: https://hef.org.nz/2013/home-education-foundations-email-to-peter-dunne/

John Banks: https://hef.org.nz/2013/home-education-foundations-email-to-john-banks/

Please also ring the MPs. You will probably not be able to talk to the MPs. I have been trying to ring them for several days and I only get their secretaries. When you ring them please make sure you tell the secretaries that you want the MP to vote against the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill while the Social and Work Obligations and Sanctions are still in the Bill.

While at Parliament:

ACT:  John Banks  (04) 817 9999  (corrected phone number-you will be transferred to his office)

United Future:  Peter Dunne 04 817 6827

Until 9 April:

Epsom –  John Banks, Office 2.4, Level 2, 27 Gillies Avenue, Newmarket, (09) 522 7464

Ohariu – Peter Dunne, 3 Frankmoore Ave, Johnsonville, Wellington, (04) 478 0076

THE ISSUES as I see them again:

We will fight this Bill:

1. While ECE is compulsory for any 3 and 4 year old child

2. While the Government is making it compulsory for any mother to have to go to work while she still has children at home

3. While it is compulsory for any child to have to complete the Well Child Checks

4. While our freedoms are slowly being taken from us


Peter Dunne has changed his vote in the past at the 3rd Reading. So although it is very rare for a Bill to have a different outcome at the 3rd Reading from the 2nd Reading we have lots of hope that this Bill will be one of those rare Bills to change at the 3rd Reading.

So please, please, please write emails and ring these two MPs. It will be the volumne of emails and phone calls that will sway these MPs.

Thankyou to everyone who writes an email and/or rings Peter Dunne and/or John Banks.

In 1877 New Zealanders lost the freedom to educate our children at home without applying for permission. Our forefathers let us down by not standing up for their rights.

In 2013, will we be the generation that begins to lose the freedom to preschool our own children, to make our own decisions about health care, or to invest our time in our families above a job?

We say NO

Let us protect the children of Beneficiaries

Because this could extend to ALL children if this passes



Please feel free to repost, forward or pass on  this email

Please do so with the whole post. Thankyou


Related Links:


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: https://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/

Exemption Form online: https://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-exemption-form-now-online/

Coming Events: https://hef.org.nz/2013/some-coming-events-for-home-education-during-2013-2/


Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill