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Benson-Pope, Burton: Familes free from violence

Hon David Benson-Pope
Minister for Social Development and Employment

Hon Mark Burton
Minister of Justice

2 June 2006 Speech Notes

Making every family free from violence

Joint presentation to a South Auckland community discussion on preventing family violence, Conference Centre Rainbows End, Manukau, 10.30am.

Hon David Benson-Pope
Minister for Social Development and Employment

Good morning everyone.

On behalf of myself and my colleague the Minister of Justice, Mark Burton, and on behalf of the whole Ministers Groups leading the families – young and old theme, my warmest thanks and acknowledgement to everyone involved in today’s event, particularly those who have shared their work to eliminate family violence and to promote strong families in South Auckland.

New Zealand has a proud history of social innovation. Over the past century and beyond we have worked to create a society that based on fairness and inclusion, and that ensures everyone gets a fair go.

That’s the New Zealand way, though many of us would probably acknowledge that it took something of a hit in the 1980s and 90s.

However, over the past six years the Labour-led Government has reinvested in New Zealand and reinforced the relationship between social and economic development.

We’ve put a much stronger emphasis on the wellbeing of families. We’ve taken a much more active approach to social assistance, with case managers increasingly focused on supporting people into sustainable work rather than simply processing benefits.

And the results show this approach is working:

- 2.1 million New Zealanders are now in work.

- Our labour force participation rate is at its highest ever, at 68.5 per cent; and

- we have the second-lowest unemployment rate in the OECD, at 3.9 per cent.

The number of New Zealanders receiving an unemployment benefit has fallen by 72 per cent since 1999.

The total number of beneficiaries has fallen by nearly 30 per cent over the same period, and as a result, the number of children living in a benefit-dependant household has dropped by 20 per cent.

These are significant changes – for individuals, for communities and for our country. These results have been achieved by opening up real opportunities – not by impoverishing beneficiaries or placing them in make work schemes

And I am proud to say, these results have been delivered by a Labour-led government.

We’ve achieved these results by building on strong economic growth.

We’ve achieved these results by providing work-focused, active assistance that’s supportive, not punitive, and that develops new, creative approaches to seemingly intractable issues.

It has been this economic and employment growth that has given us more resources to invest in social development.

To invest in parents, children and young people, workers, students, job seekers, people with ill health or a disability, older people, and communities.

To invest in families – young and old.

We are all here today because we want every family to be safe for all its members. We want to see every family raise healthy, confident children. We want to see every community provide the support and protection that families need.

Budget 2006 includes a total investment of $5.8 billion in operating expenditure and $460 million in capital expenditure over the next four years for families. This is one of the Government’s priority themes, and it’s one that encompasses all areas of family wellbeing.

Budget 2006 is designed to provide opportunity and security for all families. We want all families to have opportunities to take part in education and employment. We want all families to enjoy the security of good housing, of access to quality health care, of safe and supportive communities.

Significant spending in Budget 2006 will see tax relief extended to more families through Working for Families; affordable primary health care made available to more New Zealanders; and substantial investments in early childhood, school, and tertiary education.

All this investment supports our journey towards opportunity and security for all families, and a fundamental part of this journey is to make every family free from violence.

Family violence is a critical social issue for New Zealand. Nobody here needs to be convinced of this message; everyone here is well aware of it. Nonetheless, it is a message that we must keep repeating, and it is a message that we must back up with action.

Within the Ministers Group that is leading work on the families, Mark (Burton) and I are part of the cluster focused on the specific issue of family violence.

This morning has been a strong affirmation for us of the depth and scope of community action to eliminate family violence. We’ve seen an extraordinary amount of knowledge, commitment, and courage.

I say courage, because of all the work the government and non-government sectors are doing for families, eliminating family violence is probably the most challenging and difficult. It is also the most urgent.

I will now hand over to my colleague, Justice Minister Mark Burton, to tell you what Budget 2006 has committed to this area.

Hon Mark Burton
Minister of Justice

Strong families in safe communities

Thank you David, for your overview of Budget 2006 for families. I’ll begin by adding my own thanks and acknowledgement to everyone who has taken part today. This has been an invaluable opportunity for us to meet with people involved in family violence work here in South Auckland, and to gain a real sense of what’s happening in your community.

One very successful initiative is, of course, Strategies with Kids Information for Parents, or SKIP. SKIP is a superb example of government and non-government partnership to provide parent education and support about positive parenting and non-physical discipline. Budget 2006 includes $14.8 million over the next four years for SKIP to fund more community-based projects for families.

Budget 2006 is also investing $11.5 million over the next four years for a national and local community prevention programme to reduce family violence. A key component will be a campaign to change social attitudes towards family violence. The programme will be led by the Taskforce for Action on Violence within Families, which comprises both government and non-government representatives.

$9 million over the next four years has been committed to strengthening and expanding family violence prevention and support services. Services that will get extra funding include 24-hour crisis lines, counselling, social work support, safe-house accommodation, advocacy, and information. The aim is to ease pressure on providers and improve access to their services.

$17.5 million will go towards services for young people. This is made up of $7.5 million to strengthen and expand Youth Transitions Services, and $10 million for community-based programmes that address the problem of youth gangs here in South Auckland.

We’re also spending $6 million operating funding over four years, and $4.5 million capital investment over two years, for a system that will electronically collect student enrolment information, and enable services to trace children absent from school for more than 20 days.

And, still on the theme of young people, Budget 2006 directs $643,000 over four years into Project Early, a programme based in Christchurch and Auckland for three to eight year olds with behavioural problems.

We believe that investing in children and young people, supporting them to develop positive life paths and make positive choices, is crucial to our work to build strong families and eliminate family violence.

The earlier we act in the life of a young person or a problem, the less chance there is of a problem developing or escalating. The earlier we act, the greater chance we have of supporting young people into safe, healthy, and positive futures.

Budget 2006 is a Budget not just for families today, but for the families of future generations.

The two government agencies whose work is most directly concerned with family violence are the Ministry of Social Development and the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services. These two agencies will merge on the first of next month, providing significant opportunities to strengthen services to families and communities.

I’d like to talk for a moment about what we think of when we use the term ‘safe community’. Clearly, a safe community is one in which every member is safe and secure. A safe community is also one that respects the rights of everyone living in that community. A safe community is one where everyone can access the services they need. A safe community has high levels of trust and support among its members. It has high social capital.

A safe community is also free of crime. Removing crime from our communities is not just important for its own sake; it’s also vital for us to achieve the other qualities of a safe community. Budget 2006 provides a total of $164.3 million in operating costs and $52.3 million in capital costs over the next four years, for the first tranche of a thousand frontline sworn police and 250 non-sworn police.

Since 2002, the Government’s work to eliminate family violence has been guided by the Te Rito Family Violence Prevention Strategy. We’ve made good progress under the Strategy at raising awareness of family violence, supporting people who have been affected by it, and building stronger relationships between the government and non-government agencies involved.

Now, with the leadership provided by the Taskforce for Action on Violence within Families, the forthcoming merger between Child, Youth and Family and the Ministry of Social Development, and the initiatives that will flow from Budget 2006, we are ready to get real traction on one of New Zealand’s most critical issues.

We look forward to continuing to work with you. Thank you.


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