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DPB Proposals Undermine Whanau Ora

DPB Proposals Undermine Whanau Ora

The Maori Caucus of the Public Health Association says proposed changes to the domestic purposes benefit may undermine whanau ora.

PHA Maori Caucus spokesperson Kathrine Clarke says moves to financially punish mothers on benefits if they don't name the fathers of their children, ignores the impact of such policies on the children of beneficiaries.

Kathrine Clarke's comments follow statements by Social Services Minister Steve Maharey who wants to raise the current $22-a-child penalty that can be deducted from a single mother's domestic purposes benefit if the father is unknown.

Ms Clarke says she is surprised Mr Maharey appears to be putting short-term financial gain ahead of whanau ora. She is calling for all government policies to be assessed for their effect on whanau, and especially children.

"Financially punishing mothers on the DPB may appeal to some segments of the community but it means children may be deprived of basic necessities like medicine and food."

The PHA Maori Caucus supports statements made two weeks ago by Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia who said whanau development calls for a revolution in the thinking of tangata whenua and the Crown. Tariana Turia said the Crown needs to consider the whole range of programmes that it is imposing on Maori people.

"In light of what Tariana has said, this policy announcement appears to do more to undermine whanau than harness its strengths, potential and talent."

As well as considering the needs of children, government policy should encourage whanau development by encouraging fathers to become involved with their children, Ms Clarke says.

She says the current child support regime actively discourages fathers from being involved with their children. The majority of child support-paying parents earn less than $30,000 per year and about 25 percent of paying parents are beneficiaries.

"It is easy to see why there is pressure on mothers not to name the father of their children."

She says a first step would be amending the Child Support Act to ensure children receive some direct benefit from the liable parent contribution.

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