Stuff has a profile of Paula Bennett. Extracts:
Her conference speech had just outlined the Children’s Action Plan – a piece of work that Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills calls the greatest focus on child abuse since 1989, and the piece de resistance of Bennett’s tenure so far as the country’s welfare kingpin. …
Next stop is Work and Income’s Manukau office. The 10 people waiting in stacker chairs by the door show no interest as Bennett breezes past. They clearly have no idea who she is. Or maybe they just have more pressing worries.
She parks up behind the reception desk and greets a woman with a baby with a cheerful “good morning”. She’s undeniably good with people. She seems genuinely interested and there’s no supercilious talking down. And why would there be? She has been that young mum with a stroller asking about her benefit.
Raised with two brothers in a roundly middle class family, Bennett is no longer sure whether getting pregnant at 17 was a conscious choice – a continuation of the smoking, drinking, truanting, protesting rebellion that marked her teenage years. “I don’t know if I got in with the wrong crowd – that seems so cliched really. Some would argue I led the wrong crowd, given half a chance,” she says with a trademark cackle.
But she does remember what shook her out of a “lonely, scary, frustrating” life of welfare dependency in which a future was hard to see. It was the school holidays and she was looking after daughter Ana and a friend’s children. Her two-bedroom unit was “an absolute disaster zone”.
“Someone knocked at the door. It was someone I had known from school who had been away and come back and I just remember standing there in my pyjamas with this house that was an absolute bombsite and imagining how I looked through their eyes. I just went ‘This is it. This is actually my reality unless I do something about it.’ I do remember that being quite a moment of reflection and change.”
An interesting profile.Tags: Paula Bennett
Kate Chapman at Stuff reports:
As the second round of welfare reforms come back before Parliament Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the 650 children born to women already claiming a benefit in January are reason enough for her tough reforms. …
There were 659 subsequent children born to parents already claiming a benefit this January, she said.Under changes introduced last October, they will have to return to work when that child is 12-months-old, if their older children are aged over 5.
Bennett said Work and Income staff used discretion to excuse 22 of those parents from the work requirement, largely because of timing around the announcement and implementation of the policy.
Meanwhile, in 2010 more than 7.5 per cent of live births – 4800 of 63,900 – were babies born to sole parents on the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) and Emergency Maintenance Allowance.
And between 1993 and 2011, 29 per cent of sole mums on the DPB had another child.
”It does tell us that those that are already on benefits with children are still having subsequent children,” Bennett said.
I think there is a fundamental difference between having a child, and then ending up on welfare (because your partner leaves you, turns violent, dies etc) and already being on welfare and choosing to have further children.
Bennett admits work testing for sole parents was among the ”tougher” reforms.
But in 10 months of last year there were less people going onto the DPB that coming off. A feat which has only been achieved twice in the last 16 years, once when Working for Families was introduced.
A good start.Tags: Paula Bennett, welfare reform
Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:
Low uptake negates fears beneficiaries and daughters being pushed into free scheme, says minister’s office.
Only 35 women took up the Government’s offer of free long-term contraception for beneficiaries in the first five months – far short of the number expected.
Last July, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett announced the Government would pay for female beneficiaries and their daughters aged 16-19 to get long-term contraception such as an implant, intra-uterine device or the Depo Provera injection.
She set aside $1 million over four years for the policy – enough to fund thousands of grants covering doctors’ fees and contraceptive costs each year.
This is the policy that saw the disgusting cartoon that compared Paula Bennett to Josef Mengele. Shameful.
However, in its first five months from the end of July to the end of December only 35 women took it up.
Ms Bennett said she was not troubled by the low uptake.
“It’s going as I’d expected. We’re not promoting it so there hasn’t been significant uptake, but we’re looking at advertising it more so people are aware it’s available.”
It would be good for more people to be ware of it, so there are fewer unwanted pregnancies.Tags: contraception, Paula Bennett, welfare
The Human Rights Commission reports:
The Director of Human Rights Proceedings announced today the resolution of a complaint under the Privacy Act against Hon Paula Bennett, Minister of Social Development.
The Director, Mr Robert Hesketh said, “On the basis of the Minister’s letter to me, I have agreed to close my file. The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. The letter from the Minister is attached. We have all agreed that the letter speaks for itself and we will make no further comment.”
The complaint had been referred to the Director by the Privacy Commissioner. This is the normal process under the Privacy Act when the Privacy Commissioner considers a complaint has substance, but the parties cannot agree on a settlement.
The letter is here. Bennett says she maintains she was justified in her actions, but regrets the comments same others made re Fuller, and the hurt that caused.
I do believe that if individuals who receive state support portray themselves publicly as “hard done by”, that there is an obligation for the full nature of such support to be revealed. Without it, we the public, have incomplete information.
However the best practice in future would be for the individuals involved to be asked to consent to MSD releasing their details. If consent is refused, that should be publicised, and if then a decision made on whether to release without consent.
Note this does not apply to individuals on state support criticising the Government or its policies generally. Absolutely not. Only if they talk about their individual circumstances in a way which doesn’t provide the full picture.Tags: Human Rights Commission, Natasha Fuller, Paula Bennett, Privacy Commissioner
The Herald reports:
Ms Bennett said there were men in the benefit system who had fathered numerous children, but they escaped much of the criticism. Some had up to eight children to different mothers – and even if they were employed they could not afford child support.
“We talk about teen mums a lot and yes, they are left with the babies. But you hear of older men with multiple children and they actually prey on young women as well,” Ms Bennett said. “I’m not sure we actually identify that as the problem that it is.”
The deadbeat dads are the ones who walk away leaving the mothers with the baby, and the taxpayer with the bill. Good on Paula for focusing on them.
Last night, Mr Craig released the international research he based the claim on – including a survey of behaviour such as one-night stands by an academic at Bradley University in which NZ came second to Finland. Another was the 2007 Durex Global Sex Survey of 26,000 people nationwide, which found NZ women had an average of 20.4 sexual partners – well above the global average of 7.3.
The Durex Sex Survey is not a scientific poll, but a self selecting survey.Tags: deadbeat dads, Paula Bennett
Audrey Young at NZ Herald reports:
Cabinet minister Paula Bennett has confirmed that her new husband is Alan Philps and that he is an old boyfriend.
“Alan and I first met over 23 years ago when he was a truck driver and used to stop in at the diner I was waitressing in,” she told the Herald.
“We recently got back together and Alan and his kids moved back from Australia to New Zealand so we could be a family together.
“We are very happy, and both feel very lucky to have found each other again.”
The pair married on Saturday on the beach at Piha. The wedding feast was champagne and fish and chips.
They are having a brief honeymoon and she is expected back at work tomorrow.
It can be challenging to find time for romance, while being an MP, let alone a Minister. Congrats to Paula and Alan.Tags: Paula Bennett
The Dom Post reports:
A quick bite of chocolate cake and a glass of champagne was all National MP Tau Henare had time for as he headed straight back to work after marrying his partner at Parliament yesterday.
The list MP sprang a surprise on the House, which is sitting extended hours this week, by marrying Ngaire Brown in the former Maori affairs select committee room during the dinner break.
West Coast-Tasman MP Chris Auchinvole acted as celebrant and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett gave a speech on behalf of friends and colleagues.
About 30 National MPs attended the ceremony, along with members of the Labour, NZ First and Maori parties. Labour Maori Affairs spokesman Parekura Horomia gave a mihi, or formal speech. …
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean described the service as beautiful, although she reserved special praise for Ms Bennett’s speech.
“Her speech was more about farting than anything else.”
The mind boggles.Tags: Paula Bennett, Tau Henare
The judicial recount of Waitakere has found a number of invalid votes for Carmel Sepuloni and the Judge has found that Paula Bennett received more valid votes, and with a majority of 9 is declared once again the MP for Waitakere. That’s a wonderful result for Paula, who so loves being the local MP out west. A big ups to her and her team.
For Carmel, she is out of Parliament entirely, and Raymond Huo is once again a Labour List MP. A bit of a blow to the rejuvenation efforts for Labour, but at least a boost to their fund-raising efforts.
Carmel might now regret her ungracious tone when she was declared winner after specials. Of course she has open to her the option of an electoral petition, but those things can cost $200,000 or so and off memory National has never lost an electoral petition, well for the last 40 years or so anyway.Tags: carmel sepuloni, Election 2011, Paula Bennett, Waitakere
Been released some amusing e-mails from one of the participants (should be easy to guess). Well known Labour activist and wannabee candidate Greg Presland e-mailed New Lynn and Waitakere candidates the following:
I am the acting chair of the Titirangi Ratepayers and Residents Association. We are intending to hold a “meet the candidates” meeting on November 22, 2011 from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Presbyterian Hall, 244 Atkinson Road Titirangi. As the area has parts of two seats in it we are inviting all candidates for the New Lynn or Waitakere seats to attend. …
I am in the process of arranging an independent chair for the debate part of the meeting.
Can you each confirm that you are available.. Can national secretaries send this email to their local candidates.
This was sent on the 10th of November. Most genuine meetings have had incites go out well in advance of the final fortnight. Now Paula Bennett could have just replied with a I’ve already got something on that day (which she has) but her reply was:
Dear Greg -
I must admit your invitation did make me smile. I well remember 6 years ago as a very new candidate unwittingly going to this meeting that was a complete set up by the Labour Party and how appallingly it was run and how rude everyone was, fool me once and shame on me, fool me twice … well it ain’t going to happen. I will not be attending. Since the boundary changes around 4 years ago, none of the Waitakere electorate is in the Titirangi catchment – hence why I wasn’t invited 3 years ago.
Anything involving you would be blatantly party political as you are the West Auckland Labour Party Chairman and constantly negatively blog about me under the psuedonym Mickeysavage, I could bring as many of my supporters to match the Labour stacking that will go on and everyone could have a mud slinging match, but what a waste of everyones time.
Enjoy your evening.
So it was an invite for a group that do not even live in her electorate by the main Labour activist in West Auckland. Don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out there won’t be a single undecided voter there. Now Paula’s response was fairly polite. Then Greg replied with this:
Six years ago I arranged for a local Headmaster of impeccable standing to chair the debate because I acknowledged that I have strong political views and I considered that an independent chair was appropriate. There were at least two members of the National Party on the TRRA executive at the time and I was careful to make sure that the meeting was conducted properly. I received no complaints and thought the meeting went well.
Last election we decided to have candidates from the Tamaki Makaurau seat, this time we thought that we should have Waitakere candidates again. And you are wrong, part of the Titirangi area is in the Waitakere seat. You should get out a map some time and check the boundaries.
This time Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse will chair the debate. Am I missing something?
As for blogging well using taxpayers money to advertise constituency clinics deserves criticism and your particular style of politics is appalling. Why someone who gained a degree using public funds should destroy the opportunity for others to do the same is beyond me. And your disrespect for the rights of privacy of beneficiaries while supporting a Prime Minister that tramples over the independence of the media in trying to protect rights of privacy that were surrendered as soon as he called a press conference is distressing in the extreme.
May this election return a Government that will work in the best interests of ordinary Kiwis.
By the way I am not the West Auckland Labour Party chair. There is no such position.
The funny thing is Greg sent that version of the e-mail with the paragraph part-bolded just to Paula. The next day he sent a sanitised one to all the other candidates, including Paula.
What is funny is Greg regards Penny Hulse as an independent chair. I have no beef with Penny, but she is a politician of the left and not independent, in the sense of someone apolitical.
Anyway good on Paula for not falling into the same trap twice.Tags: Greg Presland, Paula Bennett
Paula Bennett announced:
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is pleased to announce the successful applicants to the Fresh Start Innovation Fund.
“Nine providers have received funding to make a real difference with young offenders, particularly with young Maori,” says Ms Bennett.
“As part of the Fresh Start policy for young offenders, the Innovation Fund supports new ideas or programmes that offer a different approach to working with at risk young people,” Ms Bennett says.
Providers in this round will receive a combined total of almost $402,700 funding, out of more than $3.3 million awarded to 43 providers to date. …
“My thanks to independent selection panel chair Katherine Rich and to Sue Bradford who helped assessed the applications and recommended the successful programmes,” says Ms Bennett.
Good to see that Paula will involve someone who is a harsh critic of her policies, and is in fact standing against her. And also credit to Bradford for being constructively involved.Tags: Paula Bennett, Sue Bradford
Paula Bennett launched the first green paper in 14 years at Aotea Square this afternoon. By coincidence I was up in Auckland (for the Blair lunch tomorrow) so I popped along. Excellent speeches by Sir Peter Gluckman and Paula, plus some amazing singing and performances from various young musicians.
The only protesters were Penny Bright and the Men’s Rights brigade – five in total.
The Government poses solutions to complex issues facing children and then asks the public to consider the questions that are raised by those issues, including:
• When should adults who care for vulnerable children be prioritised for services over others?
• How can the Government encourage communities to take more responsibility for the wellbeing of their children?
• How much monitoring of vulnerable children should the Government allow?
“What it doesn’t do is tell people what to think. It is intentionally written in a way that lets people make up their own mind,” say Ms Bennett.
“This is a genuinely open consultation process, giving New Zealanders a chance to have a real say in how we protect our children,” says Ms Bennett.
There are many policy issues I care deeply about – tax rates, performance pay for teachers, youth minimum wage etc etc. But let me tell you that I’d trade them all for some measures which would reduce the level of child abuse in New Zealand. There is nothing worse than a young person not having a happy and productive childhood.
If it would make a difference, I’d happily have those caring for vulnerable children prioritised for services.
The Green Paper for Vulnerable Children can be found online at:
The actual green paper is directly here. It’s only 40 pages, and an easy read. For me one of the key questions is:
When should government agencies step in and intervene with families and whanau?
I think one there has been one major adverse incident, then the threshold for intervention should be relatively low.Tags: child abuse, Paula Bennett
The Herald on Sunday reported:
Youth Affairs Minister Paula Bennett broke young hearts after a paperwork error saw her announce the wrong winner at a prestigious school acting competition.
The frontpage has now changed, but yesterday it had a big picture of the Minister and the headline was about how the Minister broke young hearts.
Bennett told a large crowd at the ASB Theatre that Cambridge school St Peter’s had won the night – but a helper had given her the wrong slip of paper. Auckland’s St Cuthbert’s were supposed to have been crowned the champions in the Auckland leg of the 2011 Stage Challenge last weekend.
So the mistake was not the Minister’s in any way. She was as much an innocent victim, as the poor kids. Yet the reporting (not so much the story, but the headlines and extracts) makes it sounds like the Minister stuffed up in some way, and made the mistake.Tags: Paula Bennett
The Herald reports:
ACC’s focus on getting beneficiaries back to work could become a model for those on long-term social welfare, invalid and sickness benefits, says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.
Such a new direction would be costly, for example, by funding drug and alcohol rehabilitation and other treatments for social welfare beneficiaries, she said. And it could require a culture change to address.
As a taxpayer it is a cost I would be fairly happy to pay, if successful.
Ms Bennett told the Herald she had particular concerns about people as young as 16 and 17 being put on the invalid’s benefit for conditions such as Asperger’s Syndrome or low-level mental illness and remaining on it for a lifetime.
“It feels like sometimes in Work and Income that the whole system is set up to concentrate on what people can’t do.
“If we change that whole culture into one of what can they do, what can we actually do to get that support … it would make a big difference.”
A focus on treatment and work sounds good to me.Tags: Paula Bennett, welfare
The Herald reports:
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has attacked the integrity of a solo mother who is asking for $15,000 to settle a privacy complaint against the minister, after previously denying she wanted any money. …
“I ruled it out right at the beginning, there wouldn’t be any cash settlement and I was incredibly surprised, particularly after her advocate [Labour MP] Charles Chauvel saying that she wasn’t looking for a cash settlement, to then get a letter from the Privacy Commissioner a matter of days later saying categorically that she was.”…
Mr Chauvel said he helped Ms Fuller draft the complaint and the letter sent a few weeks ago, but had since recommended another lawyer.
Charles seems to be backing away from Ms Fuller at fairly high speed.Tags: Charles Chauvel, Natasha Fuller, Paula Bennett
TV3 ran a story on Thursday night that claimed Paula Bennett had offered money to Natasha Fuller. The basis was a couple of Facebook messages.
Bennett denied she had offered any money, yet TV3 still run the story purely on the basis of the Facebook messages.
It then transpired that Natasha Fuller has also said there was no offer of any sort. Her Facebook messages to a friend (and she should choose her friends better in future, as the friend went straight to TV3) were bullshitting about an offer.
Why didn’t TV3 talk to Fuller before they ran the original story? Given the Minister had denied the allegations, that would be the sensible thing to do.
I also note that the Herald and Stuff both ran the original story with allegations, but I can’t find anywhere on their site a follow up story carrying the details that the allegation of a proposed payment is totally false.Tags: Natasha Fuller, Paula Bennett, TV3
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is strongly rejecting inaccurate claims made on TV3 news last night that she offered money to settle a privacy complaint.
“These allegations are completely untrue,” says Ms Bennett. …
“The subsequent story that money was offered by me to settle the complaint was unbalanced and untrue,” says Ms Bennett.
Ms Bennett says in this morning’s New Zealand Herald, the complainant was quoted as saying there had been no offer of money. When asked about the 3 News report, the complainant said: “None of that is true”.
So both Paula Bennett and Natasha Fuller have said the TV3 report was false, in relation to any offer of money. TV3 should apologise unless they have some proof.Tags: Natasha Fuller, Paula Bennett
The Herald has a profile of and interview with Waitakere candidate Carmel Sepuloni.
Now as I said on Sunday, before she was selected, I regard Sepuloni as the candidate who would do best against Paula Bennett. Chris Trotter is less convinced incidentially, and a fascinating discussion in the comments there.
Anyway some extracts:
Ms Sepuloni, who is from Waitara in Taranaki, said Ms Bennett’s local connections played some part in her victory, but “it was because of the shift that occurred toward the National Party generally”.
To some degree I agree that in 2008, it was primarily the shift to National. Paula had less split votes from Labour voters, than the national average.
However back then Paula was relatively obscure. She is not obscure today, and I would not assume that the 2008 voting pattern will be the same in 2011. I think Paula may attract considerable non-National support.
Of her own links to the electorate, “it’s more what the electorate looks like that I’m connected to”, said Ms Sepuloni, who is of Tongan, Samoan and European descent.
And from Taranaki.
“It’s got a strong working-class base and quite a large Pacific population. It’s got a comparatively large number of sole-parent households and generally, in terms of the people that live there, I think I’m quite capable of connecting with them.”
This I agree with – in fact is why I said she would do best of the four Labour nominees.
Both women are sole parents, but Ms Sepuloni says she is “more down to Earth, more authentic, more genuine”.
This is the statement that really grates, and I genuinely suggest Carmel not use it again.
First of all, it looks strange to apply labels such as authentic and genuine to yourself. By their nature, they are attributes others will decide whether they apply to you. Some attributes such as hard-working, compassionate, sounds fine when talking about yourself, but calling yourself authetntic and genuine doesn’t sound very down to earth.
But the statement goes beyond that, and specifically says more down to earth, more genuine and more authentic than Paula. Again, you look somewhat ridicolous when you claim that as if you are some sort of neutral observer, and it comes over a personal attack on Paula’s character.
Now if you want to run a character based campaign against Paula, so be it. But I really wouldn’t.Tags: carmel sepuloni, Paula Bennett, Waitakere
The Dom Post reports:
Benjamin Easton, who has lodged an Environment Court appeal to stop Manners Mall being turned into a buses-only road, told The Dominion Post on Tuesday he was “deliberately and directly” on the dole so he could bring “the people’s challenge to the courts”.
“It is a sacrifice, really. I am perfectly capable of earning.”
No it is not a sacrifice to force taxpayers to fund your political activism.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said she was “appalled” by the comments, and Work and Income officials had called Mr Easton in for an immediate work test after reading them.
Mr Easton said he had been told to attend Work and Income at 9.30am today, but he was not worried about the potential threat to his benefit.
“I’ll take to them the information of what it is I’ve presented to court relative to the issues I’ve raised, and if anyone’s gainfully employed, it’s me. I’m working hard. The amount of hours I’ve put into these proceedings in the public interest is extraordinary.”
If Mr Easton thinks he is gainfully employed, then he does not need a benefit, so just cut it off.
To get the dole you need to be available for work and seeking work. He is neither.
Mr Easton – who has taken several cases on a range of issues – has lodged an appeal against Wellington City Council’s $11.1 million project to make Manners Mall a bus route.
Mediation is set for next week, but if it fails the resulting court action could cost the council up to $90,000. Last year, it spent $72,000 successfully defending Mr Easton’s High Court bid to stop the proposal.
The appeal is being taken on behalf of protest group The City is Ours, which has applied for legal aid.
I actually oppose the change to Manners Mall also, but I don’t want taxpayers funding the protest. Individuals should use their own resources to protest.
The row comes as Ms Bennett prepares new work-test rules that will see people on the dole lose their benefit after a year if they cannot show an honest attempt to find work.
“If you say, `well, actually, I haven’t done anything and I live deliberately and directly on the unemployment benefit so I can bring the people’s challenge to the courts and to the system’, then we will cancel your benefit.”
She is also planning compulsory work tests for sickness beneficiaries deemed fit to work part-time and domestic purposes beneficiaries whose youngest child is six.
Ms Bennett said she wanted a simplified system for work tests, with graduated sanctions rather than the current sole sanction of complete suspension or cancellation.
Can’t happen soon enough.Tags: Benjamin Easton, Paula Bennett, welfare
Colin Espiner reports:
The Government is considering cancelling unemployment benefits after a year and forcing beneficiaries to reapply.
This may be a step in the right direction but I would have thought a time limit on benefits would be more effective.
Other changes under consideration by the Government are understood to include work-testing for domestic purpose beneficiaries whose youngest child has turned six,
This will be known as the Phil U policy on Kiwiblog
compulsory budgeting advice for beneficiaries who claim frequent grants,
and part-time work obligations for some sickness and invalid beneficiaries.
There are very few people who can not work even two hours a day. Kids should not grow up in households where no adults work at all. A work culture is vital to stop inter-generational dependency.
Harris is on a sickness benefit because he has a medical opinion saying he has cannabis addiction. He must get reassessed by a doctor every 13 weeks, but Work and Income said yesterday that it could not force him to undertake drug or alcohol rehabilitation under existing laws.
Rehabilitation programmes exist for sickness beneficiaries addicted to drugs, but the department cannot force them to attend or withhold their benefit if they refuse.
Well that would be a good law change also.Tags: Paula Bennett, welfare
Colin Espiner reports in The Press:
Information obtained by The Press shows Marcia Harris and her husband, former gang leader Darryl Harris, have claimed unemployment and sickness benefits continuously since 1984.
25 years without working.
They are one of about 300 couples who draw about $1000 a week in benefits from the taxpayer and are the subjects of a government audit.
So why work if you can get taxpayers to give you $1,000 a week?
They have four children, three of whom are also drawing benefits.
What a surprise! What I can’t work out is how they get $1,000 a week, if at most they have one dependent child.
In addition, they have received $30,000 in special-needs grants since 2000, including $16,000 in the past two years.
Life must be tough on $1,000 a week.
Among the successful applications were grants to put new tyres on the couple’s 2007 silver Chrysler saloon and to fence a swimming pool at one of several properties the family owns in Christchurch.
Well the silver Chrysler must look its best, so of course the taxpayer should pay for new tyres. And if you own multiple properties, then again the taxpayer is who should pay for fencing the swimming pool.
Recent efforts to cancel Darryl Harris’ sickness benefit failed after he obtained a medical opinion stating he was addicted to cannabis.
Sadly, he probably is. But people can beat addictions – and I don’t see a lot of incentives for him to do so.
The opinion was from one of Work and Income’s “designated doctors” after the agency appealed against a medical opinion that Harris was suffering from “stress and anxiety” over being work-tested.
Oh the poor baby. He hasn’t had to work for 25 years, but the stress of being work-tested in itself made him so stressed out he was not able to work.
This year Marcia Harris was ordered to repay some benefits granted by Work and Income, including one to pay for her car to be released after being impounded. She was driving without a licence at the time.
Well that is hardly her fault. Society is to blame, so only fair us taxpayers pay.
Work and Income paid for the family to spend 10 nights at a Christchurch hotel, the Towers on the Park, in 2007 after their Islington home burnt down, a review of the family’s case found.
I am sure the burning down was a freak of nature, and had nothing to do with gangs. Hopefully the Towers on the Park was adequate for them It is only 4.5 stars and they may have suffered from it not being a five star hotel.
Since then the family has been transferred to a special “remote monitoring” unit. The unit deals with Work and Income clients deemed too dangerous for face-to-face meetings with staff.
If they are too dangerous to meet with staff, then maybe they are too dangerous to receive $1,000 a week?
Bennett said she planned to introduce pledges made by National during last year’s election campaign but shelved this year because of the recession.
They include work-testing for domestic purpose beneficiaries whose youngest child has turned six, compulsory budgeting advice sessions for beneficiaries who claim frequent grants, and part-time work obligations for some sickness and invalid beneficiaries.
The Government plans to suspend or reduce benefits for those who refuse to comply with requests to attend work interviews or take up work opportunities.
Can’t happen quickly enough.Tags: Darryl Harris, Marcia Harris, Paula Bennett, WINZ
The Herald reports:
Abused Maori children in state care will be monitored to see whether they do better with their own whanau or another family.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has asked Child Youth and Family to compare the progress of the 50 per cent of children placed with extended family and the 50 per cent placed elsewhere – normally with foster families or permanently with a new family – to see what works better.
This is a very sensitive area, and each placement will have its own circumstances. But in terms of overall results, it is a question that should have been asked before now.
The idea stems from her concern at the high re-abuse rate for Maori children and anecdotal evidence that some placements with extended family can do more harm than good.
Last year almost 1800 children were re-abused within six months, an average of five a day. Almost half of all abused children are Maori.
1800 a year is huge, when you consider that is just the number of kids who are re-abused.
The Maori minister admitted the question was “hugely controversial”. For 20 years New Zealand social work had been based on the philosophy that children should be kept with their blood relatives wherever possible.
“In my opinion it works when that extended whanau are taking full responsibility for that child.
“When it gets a bit blurred is when we know who it is that’s doing [the abuse], when we’re keeping them daily involved, and it all starts getting mixed.”
Detective Sergeant Megan Goldie, the child abuse team manager for Waitakere police, echoed her local MP’s concerns about the dangers of staying too close to parents accused of abuse.
“The family that the child is going to may be perfectly OK but they may not be able to keep the offending parents … away from that child.
That is probably asking a lot from the extended family.
Child abuse specialist Dr Patrick Kelly said it was a hard call: foster care also had a patchy safety record and permanent placement was a huge step.
But he agreed it was common for an abused child to be sent to an aunt who turned out to be no better than the original mother – and the case was renotified.
“By then the child’s been living in an abusive or neglectful environment for another year.
“Sometimes you can go through five or six cycles of that process before CYF is forced to concede that this entire extended family is dysfunctional.
“But by then this poor kid has been in that situation for four or five years.
And by then it is too late – the next generation of abusers has been created.Tags: child abuse, Paula Bennett
Simon Collins reviews Paula Bennett’s first year:
If John Key’s Cabinet picks a year ago were bets on the Melbourne Cup, then giving a critical job to Paula Bennett was a gamble on a complete outsider.
A year later, in political terms, the bet has paid out handsomely. Despite her official Cabinet rank of 16th, voters in Saturday’s Herald/DigiPoll survey placed Ms Bennett third in the most-effective-minister race after Mr Key himself and his deputy, Bill English.
Without taking anything away from Paula, I would note that the way that question was asked unprompted, means it is more a poll on name recognition. A better approach would have been to read out the names of various Ministers and ask them to rate how effective each is. That is not to say, the result would necessarily be different.
Her public popularity stems from the very qualities that made her a wildcard – the teenage solo mum, soon revealed to have a daughter who was a young mum herself with a jailed partner. Not the kind of privileged pedigree that arouses resentment.
She broke up a fight in Henderson in January, put Christine Rankin on the Families Commission in May, and hit back at two women who criticised restrictions on the training allowance in July by releasing details of their personal welfare files.
The last two of these were divisive. But they all made her look like a down-to-earth “bad girl” who plays tough and dirty when she has to. She is strong and sometimes wrong, but she is “one of us”.
Not a bad summary. Labour used to target her a lot in the House as someone they thought would be “weak”. She gets left alone a lot now.
She quickly implemented her party’s promise of short-term help for redundant workers. She gave social service agencies a surprise pre-Budget $40 million boost to cope with the recession. She played a key role in an August youth package which brought back job subsidies for young people.
Apart from the recession, Ms Bennett has said that she went away at Christmas and thought, “How do I want to measure myself at the end of this period of my career?” She thought about our appalling child abuse statistics and decided her test should be “that I made a positive difference for children”.
That’s a question more MPs should ask – what do they want to have achieved at the end of their time in Parliament.
She “started talking to as many people as I could” – people like Dr Patrick Kelly at the Starship hospital. In September, she delivered much of the experts’ agenda: a pilot project and an advertising campaign on not shaking babies, another pilot to intervene when domestic violence occurs in families with infants under 2, more social workers at hospitals, and multi-agency plans for abused children leaving hospital. …
Driving such initiatives is not easy. Ms Bennett’s Labour predecessors talked about a “single core benefit” for nine years but never managed to implement it. On this count, she deserves an above-average mark as an effective minister.
People (including myself sometimes) often complain about a lack of action from the Government. One senior Minister the other day put to me that the Government was doing just as much as any of its predecessors – it just wasn’t pissing people off doing it, and making big headlines.
Over the summer break I might try to compile how many laws and policies have been implemented, and how significant they are.
All these initiatives also help to chip away at Mr Key’s growing “underclass”. The job subsidies, too, flag an unstated recognition that the last National Government’s strategy of bludgeoning the unemployed into work by cutting benefits actually fuelled multi-generational dysfunction.
This time round, there is more emphasis on opportunities than on penalties.
Yet in all this chipping around the edges, there has not yet been a full frontal attack on what Mr Key described in his 2007 underclass speech as the “exclusion” of many from mainstream working society. At last count 5 per cent of working-age non-Maori women, and 22 per cent of working-age Maori women, were on the domestic purposes benefit alone.
A frontal attack on exclusion requires hard thinking about how taxes and welfare rules drive young couples apart and then trap parents on benefits.
Goodness. Simon Collins is a former editor of City Voice (great Wellington urban newspaper while it lasted) whose politics were pretty clearly on the left. If Simon is talking about the need to change tax and welfare incentives that trap parents on benefits, you know there is a mood for change. Not change is a brutal penalising way, but change in a way to break the cycle of exclusion.
It requires across-portfolio policies such as regearing education to produce tradespeople as well as academics, lifting low-end wages, making home ownership affordable, and providing accessible parenting and life-skills advice through places young parents go such as schools, preschools and doctors.
Ms Bennett has yet to rise to the challenge of using her Social Development Ministry’s policy grunt to lead this assault across the Government. For that reason, she has to be marked down in terms of ministerial effectiveness to just above average – 6 out of 10.
Certainly a cross-sector approach is needed.Tags: NZ Herald, Paula Bennett, Simon Collins