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Closing the Inequality Gap priority for new NZCCSS President

Closing the Inequality Gap priority for new NZCCSS President


Lisa Woolley, newly-elected President of the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS), will prioritise reducing inequality during her term, as part of the Council’s commitment to help overcome the huge structural pressures on New Zealand’s most vulnerable families.

Ms Woolley is CEO of VisionWest Community Trust which provides a wide range of community services to more than 10,500 individuals and families in West Auckland every year.

“One of the major things we see on a day to day basis is the impact of inequality on people on very low incomes, often on benefits, not being able to afford housing”, Ms Woolley says.

“We see people who are either couch-surfing or living in over-crowded situations. We’ve got a caravan park on our doorstep, with people paying up to $400 a week to live there.”

NZCCSS service providers report high rents pushing people to sleep in cars and in overcrowded houses. Coupled with insufficient Housing New Zealand stock and long waiting lists, this has had a significant impact on emergency housing.

NZCCSS members have found New Zealanders describing mobile home dwellings, improvised dwellings and shelters as their home.

Over 200,000 New Zealand children live in households that rely on income from benefits. Income inequality is reflected in a failure to invest in children in poor households who, in the first 5 years of life, are more likely to grow up with poor health and fewer opportunities.

As a result New Zealand is now one of the lowest ranked countries for child wellbeing, health and safety among the wealthy countries in the OECD.

“We know if we invest in these people and make housing more affordable, more accessible for them, and look at the income that they have available to them then their health will be better. We know their children will be in education, training and employment”, Ms Woolley says.

“If we invest in people, I know what difference that will make in terms of their hope for the future. In a more equal New Zealand we’ll all be better off.”

Closer Together Whakatata Mai is an information programme aimed at raising awareness of the problem of income inequality, to promote debate about solutions and support action to reduce the gap between rich and poor. Find out more at www.closertogether .org.nz

View two MP4 video clips of Lisa Woolley recorded at the NZCCSS post-budget briefing, including the quotes cited at: http://closertogether.org.nz/lisa-woolley


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