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Collins Comments


29 August 2012


Collins Comments


This month I welcomed a Law Commission’s report with recommendations for reducing the harm caused by cyber-bullying.

Bullying is no longer confined to the classroom or playground – bullies are targeting their victims by text message, on Facebook and on other social networking websites.

We mustn’t underestimate the devastating impact cyber-bullying has particularly on young people – it’s contributing to increased truancy, failure at school and emotional problems such as depression, self-harm and suicide.
It’s time to stand up and send a clear message to cyber-bullies that their behaviour is not acceptable.
The Commission’s report has made a range of recommendations including creating a new offence to target grossly offensive or indecent digital communication.
I’m looking forward to working through all of the recommendations with my colleagues to look at how we can best reduce the harmful impact of cyber-bullying.
*

From July 2013 beneficiaries will risk having their benefit cancelled if they refuse job opportunities which require a drug test or if they fail a drug test.

Forty per cent of jobs listed with Work and Income require drug tests. Currently, beneficiaries can decline to apply for a job if they fear they won’t pass the drug test.

Our welfare reforms are resetting expectations and obligations and recreational drug use is simply not an acceptable excuse for avoiding available work.

It’s estimated around 5,800 people will be sanctioned when the new pre-employment drug testing comes into effect from July 2013.


*

It was a privilege to visit the Counties Manukau District Health Board recently to congratulate staff on their outstanding achievement in elective surgery.

Last year Counties Manukau had 245 patients waiting longer than six months for either a specialist’s appointment to assess whether or not they needed treatment, or for the operation itself. This year no-one waited longer than six months.

The DHB also performed 590 more operations compared to last year.

I’d like to acknowledge theatre teams and staff for their strong focus and commitment to improving frontline service for the people of Counties Manukau.

*

Last week I enjoyed visiting staff and students at Papakura South Primary School to open their new community dental clinic and new classrooms.

I’d like to acknowledge the Counties Manukau District Health Board, Papakura South School Principal Shaun Stevenson and the Board of Trustees and the new Principal George Ihimaera for their support of the dental clinic project.

The new clinic will provide dental care to around 4,000 children aged from birth to 13 years, including about 1,000 Preschool children from the Papakura and Drury areas.

The Papakura South facility joins new dental clinics recently opened at Papakura Normal School and Cosgrove School as part of a national project aimed at improving the oral health of all young New Zealanders.

*

Next week is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Week. MS is an autoimmune disease that affects a person’s nervous system – the immune system, which normally helps to fight off infections, mistakes a person’s body tissue for a foreign invader and attacks it.

Around 72 in every 100,000 people in New Zealand are living with MS – the majority are young New Zealanders between the ages of 20 and 40. Women are also three times more likely to develop MS than men.

Look out for MS street appeal collectors in and around Papakura this Friday and Saturday or visit http://www.msakl.org.nz/ to find out how you can help.

ends

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