GUEST BLOG: Simon Buckingham – No nits, but people with disabilities are busting!


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In the news this evening, Paula Bennett announced her new scheme to remove nits from school children in low decile schools.

On the news article, we see the Minister, surrounded by adoring media, having her hair treated. However, the background surrounding this treatment is very dark indeed.

Firstly, the million dollars plus comes from Key’s school meal scheme. So instead of providing food as promised, they have abandoned this in favour of curing those dirty poor. (Forget that nits are an issue in all schools, be they decile 1 or decile 10).

Secondly, the scheme itself I have been informed from a medical professional is doomed to failure as well. You cure nits through brushing every day for a couple of weeks. If you do not hot wash the bedding, clothes etc, they simply come back. Fancy the Minister not knowing this!

However, the worst issue is around the location of the treatment room at Russell Primary School in Porirua. To accommodate the Minister, I understand from people involved in the school that they had to remove the disabled toilet. With some children restricted to their wheelchair, I bet that by now they are busting for a loo they can use! Even if there are no children in wheelchairs, it still reduces accessibility for the future students who may be. After all, we should be not seen and not heard! So, apparently on the Minister’s instruction, and without informing parents or staff, the school removed the disabled toilet over the Easter break, and installed a lovely new hairdresser’s chair, and plumbed it in. As a result, the Minister was able to have her photo opportunity in front of the TV cameras, whilst I can imagine the queue of people with disabilities, people like my daughter and indeed, myself, stretching out of the door.

The school cannot be blamed. If you see what they are doing, they are active politically, advocating for their students. Go to their blog page. It shows a socially aware school doing their very best for the students. This makes the whole issue stink worse than a bin full of snapper outside Countdown. It stenches of political set-up.

Some of this article is speculation. I understand that there was only one toilet, but none now for people with disabilities, but perhaps I am mistaken here. However, removing a disabled toilet with wheelchair access shows where this Government’s priorities lie. They are not with the 20% of students with disabilities. They are with the Minister getting a photo op. And I thought that the treatment used killed bloodsucking parasites!

Simon Buckingham is New Zealand’s first diagnosed Autistic Spectrum lawyer. He is a social justice activist and passionate about politics.

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  1. That was well said!

    Obviously an election photo opportunity – nothing more than a publicity stunt. Sleaze.

    Of course Bennett will know about having to do all the bedding etc – she must have sent her own children to school, and will know all about nits.

    We already know she does not care about the poor or the otherwise disadvantaged in NZ – in fact she helped them get there. Her policies could also have directly caused the problem of the nits – being that some of the families are too poor to afford the nit treatments! I hope she gave each family plenty of treatment shampoo, so all the other members in the family could be done too. The article doesn’t say.

    Does she really think everyone, and every parent is so gullible, and stupid. It is obviously just a publicity stunt, and the money for the shampoo should have been taken from the health budget, or the Nats election budget (Nats for Nits), not the feed the kids budget!
    How disgusting is she – taking food from the mouths of children, just for a publicity stunt.

    Again. Sleaze!


  2. There is also the unspoken insinuation that only “poor” kids get nits – and their parents are “unwilling” or “unable” to deal with this competently.

    From my perspective, the minister is the one who is “poor” in social responsibility, and “unwilling and unable” to be otherwise.

    • Totally agree, I have seen nit outbreaks at decile 10 schools so nits like most things couldn’t care less who they land on.

      This appears almost like an election stunt, obsess about the superficial problem of nits whilst ignoring the root cause which by coincidence is exactly as shallow as Nationals numeracy, literacy and league tables policies.

      And its sad they had cut into a food budget and remove a disabled toilet facility for the ministers benefit.

  3. I was fine with it until I heard that the funding was taken from the food in schools programme. So kids have to go hungry to pay for a publicity stunt! No wonder I’m not voting for Key again!!

  4. About the only useful thing to come out of this, listening to talkback the other day, is the myriads of hints and quite simple remedies there are out there, the most bizarre being mayonnaise. Yup, mayonnaise. You rub some into the hair and leave for a while then rinse out, apparently the oil and vinegar in it does the trick. Your hair will be shiny as well.
    There were some other old remedies like tea tree oil etc, the worst being kerosene (keep away from naked flame) and Advantage.
    If this is just a money juggling trick to make it look like, well, not a trick, then I hope all see through it
    They won’t

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