It’s time for our leaders to harness their power to take action on meaningful and sustained welfare policy changes, so that all children can have the opportunity to live good lives and to experience a happy, healthy childhood, says Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).
CPAG’s annual welfare Summit, this year themed Whakamana Tāngata: Where to from here? is being held in Wellington this coming Monday. The Summit will bring together experts from across a range of disciplines, to draw attention to the recent work of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) and discuss its implications for welfare reform.
“There is an overwhelming, cross-sector acknowledgement – including from politicians – that poverty for those who are experiencing it most severely has not been fixed, and that more needs to – and will – be done for families whose struggles are not abating,” says Professor Innes Asher, CPAG’s Health advisor and former member of the WEAG group.
“The question is not how – now that we have the advice – the question is when.”
Professor Asher is among the keynote speakers at Monday’s Summit. Laura O’Connell Rapira, Director of ActionStation will also be there to discuss taking action for effective change. Laura says the reality is that families are trying to scrape by on low incomes in an era of high housing and food costs.
“As New Zealanders, we believe in justice and compassion. We want everyone to have the opportunity to thrive. By providing good income support that gives real options in life the Government can make it possible for everyone to do well. Strengthening benefits, as called for by the Government’s own Welfare Expert Advisory Group, would help more people escape the restraints of poverty. It would release the pressure on families and children and help more people to unlock life’s rich opportunities.”
And Lifewise CEO Moira Lawler, who will be joining the Summit panel with her colleague John Zois agrees.
“At Lifewise, it’s our understanding that New Zealanders really want to see children and families living above the poverty line, and to have a society where children are able to thrive and have all their needs met,” says Lawler, “We all share the view that if the Government invested in the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group then things can be different.
“We recognise that it would be difficult to implement all of the recommendations at once, but there are certainly some real priority areas that can be acted on and to see some indication of what the plan looks like would be really important to those of us championing this cause, so we have confidence that change is at hand.”
Associate Professor Susan St John, CPAG’s Economics advisor, will be speaking at the event on Monday.
“Families have waited far too long for any real, meaningful relief from the disabling stress of poverty that features in their lives,” says St John.
“For their children to have better lives and opportunities, we need urgent change. An emergency package to see them through till any long-term changes can be made is imperative – we should not be forcing them to line up in queues at the City Missions and Salvation Armies this Christmas.”
Former Families Commissioner and long-time child welfare advocate Len Cook, says that the measure of a successful welfare system is if every element of it can be trusted by people, whether they need it or not.
“We have become far too tolerant of extraordinary inequalities and inequities that exist in Aotearoa, and welfare can be shaped to improve conditions and remove the inequities for people so that they have a chance to do well,” says Cook, who believes that change should involve simplifying eligibility tests and reducing means tests to align more to those used in the tax system.
Join Len and other keynote speakers at CPAG’s Summit 2019: Whakamana Tāngata: Where to from here ? And hear about what changes will make New Zealand truly a great place to be a child.
Other speakers include: Minister of Social Development Hon. Carmel Sepuloni, Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft, Associate Professor Khylee Quince, Samuel Murray of CCS Disability Action, Professor Tracey McIntosh and more!
We warmly invite attendance by journalists and other media representatives.
Date: 18 November, 2019
Time: 8:30am – 4:30pm.
Venue: Nordmeyer Lecture Theatre, University of Otago, Wellington, 23 Mein St, Newtown, Wellington.