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Hungry young mums should be treated with dignity

6 August 2008

Hungry young mums should be treated with dignity: Greens

It is not acceptable that Work and Income case managers continue to bully and intimidate people seeking their assistance, the Green Party says.

Green Party Social Development Spokesperson Sue Bradford will ask questions in the House today about why the Government allows this culture of abuse to continue, in some Work and Income offices at least.

"In the past week several particular cases have been brought to my attention.

"The first involves a young woman, Tara Marks, who approached Rotorua Work and Income for a food grant.

"As she stood with her baby in her arms asking for assistance the case manager laughed at her and told her to 'fuck off'.

"In the second instance, a woman registered with the Gisborne office was subject to an unscheduled bullying session with three staff harassing her at once - resulting in her becoming too frightened to go back to Work and Income - even though her subsistence income depends on it.

"In the Murupara office, a case manager is reported to have screamed right into the face of a person approaching them for assistance. That case manager is still employed there."

The Green Party believes this culture of harassment and intimidation is unacceptable and the legacy of 1990s attitudes towards beneficiaries, Ms Bradford says.

"It is simply not acceptable.

"I also believe these are not isolated cases - numerous other beneficiaries continue to be treated in the same way, including being followed around offices in an intimidating manner by security staff - although treatment varies very much between offices and individual case managers.

"I call on the Government to end this culture of abuse; to involve beneficiary advocacy groups in the training of frontline Work and Income staff; and to apologise to all those who have been treated in this way."


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