In 2016, John Key’s Government was under an enormous amount of pressure as network news TV broadcast images of NZers living in cars. Key assured voters that Ministry of Social Development staff had tagged alongside the Salvation Army in going up to these desperate people to see if they could be of assistance…
Prime Minister John Key claimed a team of social workers went out to Bruce Pulman Park in Takanini on Monday night where they spoke to people in eight cars — none of whom wanted the Government’s help.
“MSD and the Sallies went around and knocked on [the] eight cars that they could find,” he says.
…less than 24 hours after Key made that statement, the Salvation Army came out angrily denouncing that claim and stated no MSD staff had come along with them.
What Key hadn’t appreciated is that the neoliberal welfare state agencies are there to terrify, intimidate and break beneficiaries so that the interaction becomes so awful the poor chose to flee these agencies rather than seek them out.
That’s why the Salvation Army had to distance themselves when Key claimed MSD staff had tagged along because the Salvation Army knew those most in need fear the Government and would refuse any help if they thought MSD staff were accompanying the Salvation Army.
That’s why the National Government in 2017 was so surprised at the ‘hidden’ number of homeless using Motel emergency allowances because the homeless try to avoid the state departments. Now that every state agency all share information, they help chase debts that have been built up by the poor when those poor touch base with any agency.
From stealing babies straight from a women’s womb, to spying on beneficiaries with powers not even the Police have, to the State House meth hysteria, the most vulnerable don’t see state agencies as anything they can trust or believe in. Such is the demand for big data algorithms, the privacy of the individual has been sold off and with that privacy any trust the individual has in the state.
People chose not to fill in the census, they didn’t forget.
So what to make of todays announcement of $320m on family and sexual violence...
In an announcement this morning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government would commit $320 million over four years to what she called the first-ever joint Budget bid from multiple government departments.
The funding would provide further funding for Integrated Safety Response, a three-year police-led pilot, she said.
The scheme was set up in Christchurch and Hamilton by the former National government in 2016, and today’s announcement meant it would be expanded to Gisborne, Counties Manukau and Kaitaia.
Under ISR, every family violence call to police is referred to a team of government agencies which share information, assess risk and then set up a safety plan.
…it’s good that there will be a promotional advertising campaign calling on behaviour change and support for the men who cause this violence, but my suspicion is that once people in harms way realise calling the Police triggers inter-agency backlash then those in danger will stop calling Police.
The problem is those most in need don’t see Government departments as saving or helping them. If the by-product of calling for help is a Government social worker who is going to snatch the baby at birth, why go to the hospital?
If the by-product of calling the Police is the family split up and the children forced into foster care with a chance of being abused in state care, why call the Police?
Those who have been the whipping boy at the hands of a neoliberal welfare state are unlikely to turn to it in their deepest need.
The legacy of the neoliberal welfare state are vulnerable people too traumatised by the experience of the interaction to ever hold out their hand in need again.