Meet ‘Carol’ from WINZ
Once upon a time in New Zealand, the agencies of state welfare were constructed as an instrumental and direct means to ensure our egalitarian values.
Social welfare was seen as a way to redistribute back to the most vulnerable amongst us and these agencies were critical in carrying out that redistribution.
There was a pride involved in this public service, our compassion made us unique and it built the values from which we as New Zealanders have benefitted from.
That simply is no longer the case.
For the last 30+ years, the neoliberal experiment has turned our once egalitarian welfare state into a neoliberal welfare state. The branches of social welfare, the MoD, CYFS, Corrections, Parole Services, Housing NZ, WINZ and Mental health have all been warped and mutated into weapons to punish the poor for being vulnerable.
In a culture of me first and gimme, gimmies where success is private and failure is personal , we see the poor as victims of their own circumstance rather than as a result of the hegemonic structures of power.
I’ve been wanting to put a face to the Neoliberal Welfare State and ‘Carol’ from WINZ sums up the agony and frustration so many beneficiaries feel when dealing with WINZ, CYFs, Corrections, Parole, Mental health and Housing NZ. It could be ‘Carol’ from Ministry of Development, or ‘Carol’ from Corrections, or ‘Carol’ from CYFs, it’s interchangeable.
‘Carol’ is a symbol of the repressive face of bureaucracy that beneficiaries are forced to endure.
The poor, the vulnerable, the weak, the sick and the disabled do everything in their power not to be needing assistance from these Government agencies, because these Government agencies don’t help, they only punish.
We have a WINZ service who break people each day and force them to grovel on their belly to make ends meet. Who perform mass surveillance spying on beneficiaries to catch them out in ‘relationships’ despite WINZ not telling anyone what the actual relationship equation is and we have 60% of beneficiaries oweing WINZ money because WINZ claims they’ve defrauded the system by having a ‘relationship’.
We have a Corrections department that is more interested in hiding prisoner suicide stats than actually looking after their prisoners (more on that developing story next week), more interested in locking 10 000 NZers up for profit than rehabilitating them.
We have a Paroles Service that almost every NGO despises having to work with because it’s staffed by people who enjoy the power they have over prisoners lives and are concerned with only throwing them back into prison.
We have a CYFS that sexually molests, abuses and assaults the children they are supposed to look after while continuing to remove children from families.
We have a mental health system more interested in allowing people to die than help them.
We have a Housing NZ more focused on throwing people out of their homes based on flawed meth testing than providing shelter to the poorest amongst us.
For me, nothing sums up the horror of our neoliberal welfare state more than what happened last year with the Auckland Action Against Poverty beneficiary clinic they held for 3 days outside a South Auckland WINZ office. Over a 1000 people lined up to beg for help from activists to gain some type of assistance from WINZ.
Just comprehend that.
WINZ are so evil to these people that a 1000 of them lined up to gain assistance from AAAP. Some had walked since before dawn to arrive in time to get help. Many were in tears and emotionally distraught by the way WINZ had treated them.
What kind of an indictment is that?
So what are we going to do?
Here’s the simple, unvarnished truth. MoD, CYFS, WINZ, Corrections, Parole Services and Housing NZ only give a fuck when the media pick up on a story of their disgusting attitude and treatment of the poor. They only magically find a way to solve the problem when the news media focus on them. All they care about is avoiding embarrassment and negative media attention.
Your power, our power, is in shaming these bastards publicly.
So what are we at The Daily Blog offering?
To every beneficiary who has been abused by our system, we offer you Your Voice Election 2017
This is will be your opportunity to speak out against how the neoliberal welfare state has hurt you and continues to hurt you.
This is your chance to let the rest of New Zealand know as they enter the voting booths in 2017, that the punitive, spiteful and damaging social welfare policies of WINZ, Housing NZ, Corrections, Parole, Mental health, Ministry of Social Development and CYFs are crucifying the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us.
There are almost 300 000 beneficiaries in New Zealand, yet their voice and true political muscle are ignored and forgotten. The Daily Blog offers you a chance to take back some mana and have the empowerment of a platform that will amplify your truth.
Use the form provided to contact us anonymously with your story of how the policies of WINZ, Housing NZ, Corrections, Parole, Ministry of Social Development and CYFs have actually hurt, not helped you.
We will contact you via the contacts you provide to check and verify your story. We will review what you have written, and as long as it isn’t defamatory, we will anonymously publish it and give you a voice in this election so that you can criticise these agencies and highlight their abuses without them being able to retaliate negatively against you. We will consider your stories of abuse at the hands of Government agencies as whistleblower material and will never hand your details over to the Government.
It’s time the rest of voting New Zealand understood just how harsh the neoliberal welfare state is.