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Parents Centre New Zealand e-zine #8

March 2004

e-zine of Parents Centre New Zealand Inc.


1.. Where are the mothers in the Government's action plan for women? 2.. Family friendly pharmacies: developing local relationships. 3.. Work-life balance project: is it time Govt analysts got a life? 4.. Immunisation: information and consent - who knows what? 5.. Birth : when decisions go wrong - A US mother on trial 6.. Paid Parental Leave: when parents work, who cares? 7.. When election campaigns start early - who pays? 8.. Superannuation and the grandparent debate 9.. Jobs Jolt: towns without futures - the small minded approach to small town life. 10.. Water on mars, but is there intelligent life on earth.

1. Where are the mothers in the Government's action plan for women? The only time that mothers appear in the action plan for women is when reference is made to the workforce and our participation in it. Our lives are only of value as workers not mothers. Nor is there any mention of maternity services, parent education and support programmes or the value of mothers as the backbone of many community and volunteer organsiations. The reality of mothers at home, by choice or circumstance, is overlooked entirely. Much of the action plan is a statement of denial. Teenage pregnancies and unplanned pregnancies remain a fact of life for many women, they will never be reduced to zero; yet there is no recognition that the best way to plan for an unexpected birth, (as it is for a plan one) is to attend an antenatal course, followed by parent education classes and support groups. There are times in the lives of many women when choosing fulltime motherhood is a valid option. Supporting stay at home mothers is as important as supporting working mothers - as always its having the choice and the opportunity that makes the difference. The action plan makes no mention of choices for mothers, it begins with the assumption that all mothers want to, or should want to, join the paid workforce. What about supporting mothers in successfully raising a family? There is also a lovely statement about improving heartland services, but what does this mean in light of school closures and threats to regional maternity services? The final grade (in NCEA terms) would be an excellence for presentation and a not achieved for content. We suggest the Ministry be given an opportunity to resubmit the project and focus on developing a more realistic perceptive.

2. Family friendly pharmacies: developing local relationships. Parents Centre NZ Inc and the Pharmacy Guild are doing it for themselves. The Family Friendly Pharmacy initiative is a local community response to developing family friendly communities which are working to support the needs of parents. The initative will be launched by the Minsiter of Health in Wellington on 6 May. Watch out for the fabulous decal which will be appearing on pharmacy windows near you. Support your local family friendly pharmacy and your local parents centre.

3. Work-life balance project: is it time Govt analysts got a life? The Work-Life Balance Project is a major drive to encourage New Zealanders to take stock of their quality of life: to identify what the issues are that affects them, what works and what doesn't. According to DoL, submissions received so far highlight issues around childcare and working parents, the need for part-time work options, handling work stress, work place culture and the need to improve flexibility at work.Individuals or organisations can contribute by completing the response form online at . Discussion packs and hard copy response forms are also available by emailing the project at It is a great initiative but what a shame the timeframe for submissions is about as family friendly as an oil rig. Info kits were sent out at the end of Feb and they want submissions by end of March. Many volunteer organisations like Parents Centre only meet once a month. Although we have been told that we can make a late submission but it might not be incorporated into the consultation summary. It all begs the questions: how sincere is this consultation process? and do policy analysts live in the real world?

4. Immunisation: information and consent - who knows what? Apparently, only 60% of two-year-olds have been vaccinated, despite a national drive for 95% coverage. A study reported in the Medical Journal confirmed that NZ rates are low by international comparisons, and lower still for Maori and Pacific Islanders which stand at 42% and 45% respectively. Those who particpated in the survey (who had decided not to immunise) were described as 'highly educated' and had actively collected informaton from a wide range of sources and had made their decison based on a perception of risk. It sounds like there is still a need for public debate, perhaps on a jab by jab basis. Maybe some are better than others, or are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

5. Birth : when decisions go wrong - A US mother on trial A report of a US woman charged with murder because she allegedly ignored medical warnings to have a caesarean to save her twins. Does this raise questions about the motiviations behind the allegation and charges? Are the medical professionals pre-empting a suit against themselves for not adequately responding to an emergency? Is it an attempt to discredit the woman concerned? Or is it another attempt to scare women into operating theatre?

6. Paid Parental Leave: when parents work, who cares? Paid parental leave has been extended from 12-14 wks (over 2 years) and will now cover mothers who have been with the same employer for 6months (a reduction from the earlier 12 months). While it is step in the right direction, we will withhold the fanfare until Government policy recognises the full range of family needs and cicumstances. Flexibility is the key to making it work in the workforce. What about supporting all parents of all children by supporting the Universal Child Benefit Bill?

7. When election campaigns start early - who pays? The Prime Minister's Hikoi of Hope report card which appeared with a letter referring us to as 'friend' was a delight to receive. We wondered why she would call us friend when she has turned down or deferred invitations to meet with us. Then we realised that friend is code for "I'm desparate and i need your vote - whatever your name is? More taxfunded campaigning from the big girl's office? 8. Superannuation and the grandparent debate Is this something most of us baby boomers already knew that we'll be working until we drop because the coffers will be bare by the time we retire. Chances are that retirement will be a thing of the past for our children. Isn't it time for today's grandparents to use their political clout to advocate for their grandchildren's future well-being. Or have we gone too far down the road of self interest to start thinking in terms of legacy? It's time to get serious about the sustainable economy and a sustainable population policy.

9. Jobs Jolt: towns without futures - a small minded approach to small town life. How can you blacklist a town? Short answer is you just put it on a no-go list and forget about quality of life, cheap housing, growing your own vegtables, and the return to free ranging childhood for your kids. You also forget about regional development iniatives, which your own Government is promoting, and you forget about the benefit arrangements for artists, and any ill-effects it might have on the people already living in the blacklist towns. A total of 259 towns have been jobs jolted, so watch out for a place near you. In an age of technological innovation living in the backblocks should not be a limiting factor, all that is needed is training, motivation, and a Government capable of a creative thought.

10. Water on Mars, but is there intelligent life on Earth. The trouble with this exciting news which has animated NASA scientists, is that it's all past tense. Water may have existed on Mars - not any more. In the meantime, life on Earth carries on like there's no tomorrow!


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