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Barnardos says Welfare recs have transformative potential

Barnardos says that new recommendations about how the welfare system should be reformed have the potential to be transformative for children, their families and whānau and for Aotearoa New Zealand as a society.

The recommendations are made in the report ‘Whakamana Tāngata: Restoring Dignity to Social Security in New Zealand’ by the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG). Government made the WEAG’s report public today.

Barnardos General Manager Advocacy, Dr Claire Achmad, says that “Barnardos strongly welcomes the WEAG’s report. We advocated to the Group to be bold in its recommendations to Government, to create a welfare system that supports the human dignity and social inclusion of all people, which puts children and their families and whānau at its heart, and which is fair, equitable, upholds Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and which alleviates poverty and promotes wellbeing. The report published today takes this approach. We commend the WEAG’s work and thank its members for listening, and reflecting many of Barnardos’ recommendations in its work.”

Achmad says that “Barnardos is calling on Government to implement the WEAG’s recommendations effectively and in a timely manner. We know that for some children, young people and their families and whānau, change is urgently needed. We will keep calling on Government to support this. The WEAG report charts a pathway for transformative systemic change. Barnardos wants to see that change realised and endure over time.”

Dr Achmad says that Barnardos made clear in its submissions to the WEAG that the social welfare system is not currently working as well as it could be for many children and their families and whānau, and in too many instances is having a detrimental impact on those it seeks to serve. She says that “Barnardos acknowledges that changes are already underway at the Ministry of Social Development and we welcome those. But what this Report makes clear is that transformative change and a significant shift in our system of social welfare is needed, so that it again becomes a system that restores and upholds human dignity, does not discriminate, and which ensures every child, family and whānau is included in our society and can live meaningful lives of dignity.”

Dr Achmad says that Barnardos was pleased to be at the announcement of the report this morning in West Auckland, and to hear Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development, Hon Tracey Martin, Minister for Children, and Marama Davidson, Co-Leader Green Party of Aotearoa welcome the Report and confirm that welfare system reform remains a priority for the Government. “We urge the Government to implement the recommendations in the Report, and in doing so, give priority to those recommendations that will make the biggest difference for children and their families and whānau, and for those in our society who are particularly marginalised and vulnerable. Increasing main benefit rates is something that would make a significant difference, and extending the Best Start payment to all children 0-3 is a specific recommendation we hope to see implemented in the upcoming Wellbeing Budget.”

Dr Achmad says that Barnardos will be focusing on understanding the detail of the 209 page WEAG report over coming days, but that “We believe the general shape and trajectory of the recommendations will, if implemented, make a significant positive change in the lives of children and young people, and their families and whānau in Aotearoa New Zealand. We are pleased to see a strong focus on ensuring the system supports and serves Māori well, on amending legislation to ensure it is human principle-based, and on increasing income adequacy. We know with our country’s high rates of child poverty and homelessness that having more income will enable children to experience childhoods in safer and healthier homes, which are under less stress and more resilient to social and economic shocks. Wrapping the right support around children and their families and whānau is essential, and the social welfare system has a big role to play.”

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