The enormity of the number of vulnerable children abused by the State in NZ must force reflection…
The numbers are astounding – figures out this morning from the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care estimate there are up to 250,000 victims over 70 years.
They are children, young people and vulnerable adults who suffered beatings, sexual assault and other cruelty while in state or religious care between 1950 and 2019.
The cost to society of the physical and mental injuries, criminal behaviour, homelessness, lack of education and unemployment is calculated at $217 billion.
…at least quarter of a million NZ children abused, costing over $200billion and causing immeasurable social carnage.
THAT is the legacy of NZ welfare.
An underfunded punitive stick with which to beat the Christ out of the weakest members of society.
We must all hang out heads in collective shame.
This is what happens when a punitive culture of mini tyrants are left in charge of an underfunded process designed to punish the poor.
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.
Between the 1950s-1980s, a perverse mix of ignorance, zero oversight and the darker side of our nature dominated large insinuations that acted more like an abusers paradise than a socially progressive democratic welfare system.
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.
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 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 an agency 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 that still sees skyrocketing suicide rates.
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.
22000 are on social housing waiting lists, 1 in 5 children live in poverty and speculators are pricing home ownership to of reach for every generation who isn’t a boomer.
For me, nothing sums up the horror of our neoliberal welfare state more than what happened in 2016 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?
Right now we have Oranga Tamariki, a neoliberal welfare experiment that argues early intervention will save the State downstream costs and we are seeing the exact same types of State abuses occur again!
Which demands questions of us on the Left.
Is this abuse because of grotesque underfunding of a welfare system that is about punishing the vulnerable or is there something innate about the State that means its lack of oversight and accountability will always be reduced to an abusers paradise?
The older I get, the more convinced I am that the biggest abuser of rights in NZ is the State.
Every passing year I become more of an anarchist at a time when the State will be essential for surviving the climate crisis.
Elections change Governments.
Revolutions change the State.
We need a revolution at the ballot box to seriously reform the State or we are simply enabling it to continue to damage our fellow citizens.
Our forefathers died and bled on foreign shores to prevent Governments from damaging their own people like this, perhaps the real fight was always here.
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