Two good articles by Simon Collins on welfare reforms. While not always agreeing with them, I almost always find his articles well researched and fair.
The first article is here.
Tough welfare reforms now going through Parliament may deter some women from seeing the sole parent benefit as a viable lifestyle – but at the risk of long-term harm to their children.
As with almost all policies, there is a trade-off. The reforms should deter some women from having multiple children while remaining on the DPB, but they may cause some hardship for some families. I don’t think the status quo was working or acceptable, so support the reforms.
Now she is pregnant again to a man she met only once.
“It was just a silly thing one night, I got drunk one night in town,” she says. “I was alone by myself that weekend, Antonio had gone to his family. I decided to go into Auckland City with friends and they showed me a whole life that I didn’t know.”
She considered an abortion but rejected it: “It’s a Maori belief, it’s a gift from God.”
A good example of the problem with the status quo.
New Zealand has among the world’s highest rates of sole parenthood, especially among low-income groups for whom the DPB may seem a viable lifestyle option. In the 2006 census, 25 per cent of all New Zealand children and 43 per cent of Maori children lived in sole parent families, compared with an OECD average of 16 per cent.
Otara administrator Delaney Papua, who turns 20 next month and is expecting her first baby in November, says going on the benefit seems to be just what you do when you get pregnant.
“All the people that I know that have kids go on it, so I kind of just assumed that you have to be on that,” she says.
And again, the challenge to break those expectations.
Another woman, Renee, became pregnant with a flatmate while on the benefit when her first two children were 8 and 5, and says it “was never a boyfriend/girlfriend thing”. She also thinks the new law is “fair”.
“If the law had been in place, I just would have been probably more cautious,” she says.
At another McDonald’s recently, she overheard two young mothers with babies talking about how they were trying to get pregnant again.
“I’m loving this benefit shit,” one said. “I’m going to have another baby, I’ll keep having them, it’s free money.”
And that is a very bad reason to have a baby.
In the second article, Collins reports:
A single-parent support group says some women are being driven to abort their babies because they are scared of the Government’s new hardline welfare laws.
Which is why free contraception is a good idea. Contraception is far preferable to abortion.
Julie Whitehouse, of the Auckland Single Parents Trust, says other mothers are going “underground” and trying to hide their babies from authorities rather than go back to work one year after giving birth.
This is a weird and illogical statement. Hiding your baby means you get no reprieve at all from work testing, rather than a one year reprieve. It also means they get no additional DPB. I suspect Ms Whitehouse doesn’t know what she is talking about – or her comments have not been communicated well.
Interviews with solo mothers who have become pregnant again while on welfare have found that most plan to respond to the new law as the Government intends – by taking more care not to get pregnant again, and by agreeing to look for work after a year if they do have another baby.
Excellent. The best outcome is taking more care not to get pregnant.