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Commission Urges Commitment To Te Tiriti And Human Rights

Aotearoa New Zealand’s most vulnerable communities will be left wanting by today’s budget announcements, says Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission.

“Today’s budget announcement lets New Zealanders know what the Coalition Government values are and where they want to see investment as a society,” said Chief Human Rights Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo.

A notable lack of funding for Māori development, and cuts to Māori housing, will confirm for many whānau, iwi, hapū that their needs are not a priority. Similarly, an absence of support for Rainbow Communities will be felt.

“We encourage the Government to commit to te Tiriti o Waitangi and human rights and prioritise investment in communities already living with poor health, social, economic, education and criminal justice outcomes.”

Tax cuts announced in the budget will result in superannuitant couples receiving $4.50 a week between them and a minimum wage worker $12.50 a week. Meanwhile, a working couple with a combined income of $150,000 will receive an extra $40 a week.

Today’s budget confirmed that a new Social Investment Agency will replace the Social Wellbeing Agency to assess whether initiatives to support vulnerable communities are working.

“The rights to a decent home, dignified work with fair and equal pay, and a decent standard of living remain critical needs for Tangata Whenua, diverse ethnic communities, disabled people, women, and children,” Sumeo said.

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The budget commitment to 1500 new homes through the community housing sector is vital and needed. Community housing organisations play an important role in realising the right to a decent home. It is vital these homes are accessible and culturally appropriate.

The Commission is concerned by cuts to baseline funding for population agencies Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry for Pacific Peoples and the Ministry for Ethnic Communities, especially when there appear to be no new initiatives supporting these populations.

“These cuts will have flow on effects that will be felt by diverse communities for years to come,” Sumeo said.

Many dedicated initiatives and funding supports for these communities are reducing or ending. The Commission is concerned for community-led initiatives that contribute to maintaining and improving social cohesion and harmonious relations.

Kaihautū Tika Hauātanga Disability Rights Commissioner Prudence Walker said the $1.1 billion over five years to address cost pressures for Whaikaha Ministry of Disabled People was urgently needed to ensure sufficient support for disabled people to participate in community.

“Many disabled people are simply doing their best to survive and have been devastated by recent abrupt changes to their delicately balanced support structures. I urge the Government to co-design supports for disabled people and remember, people have a right to contribute to their own advancement,” she said.

The budget includes investment in improved learning support as part of a $2.9 million package over four years to education including additional teacher support and early childhood education.

“The right to inclusive education for disabled students requires a whole system and whole school approach. Learning support needs to be backed with teacher training and recruitment to ensure all teaching staff are well equipped to support all learners. Similarly, investment in new or renovated classrooms must ensure accessibility for disabled students,” said Walker.

The Commission is concerned about the non-renewal of dedicated funding and support for families affected by the March 15 terror attacks in Christchurch. While it has been five years since the attacks, the Government response to the Royal Commission report has only been underway for three and a half years.

Families and communities are still recovering and rebuilding and that takes specific and dedicated support.

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