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Beneficiary Advocates & Govt Cement Relationship

Beneficiary Advocates And Government Cement Ongoing Relationship

A conference of more than fifty beneficiary advocates from Northland to Invercargill cemented an ongoing relationship with Government Ministers, the Department of Work and Income and Ministry of Social Policy last week.

The Conference took place at Tatum Park near Levin from 29 to 31 August. It was addressed by the Hon Ruth Dyson, Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment and the Hon Parekura Horomia, Minister of Maori Affairs. It included workshops with representatives from DWI, MSP, Department of Labour, Ministry of Economic Development and Housing New Zealand. Representatives from the Labour, Alliance and Green Parties were invited to the final session of the conference to hear a report of conference outcomes.

“Around 15 representatives from beneficiary advocate groups had been meeting with Government Ministers and Ministries / Departments since late January this year,” said Robert Reid, President of UNITE! and spokesperson for the advocate groups.

“This group had produced a list of 123 recommendations of immediate changes that it wished to see DWI and other Government Departments make to assist those on a benefit,” Robert Reid said. “Last week’s conference enabled the wider group to consider these recommendations and what progress had been made on them. It also deepened discussions with the Ministers and Departments concerned with benefit, unemployment and employment issues.

“The Conference looked at the recently tabled Social Security Amendment Bill and what amendments and additions that beneficiary advocate groups would seek to the Bill.”

Outcomes of the Conference also included the establishment of regional fora between beneficiary advocate groups and the regional commissioners of the Department of Work and Income. Maori Beneficiary Advocates have formed their own network and have been invited to be involved in the DWI Maori structures.

“Finally beneficiary groups established a working party of their own to advocate for such groups to receive adequate funding themselves. Beneficiary groups ensure that the poorest of New Zealanders receive what they are entitled to under Social Security legislation. As such we play a major role in both auditing the work of DWI and assisting in the process of “closing the gaps”, Robert Reid said. However most groups are existing with little help from the state and many are currently in a financially precarious situation.”

The Conference was funded the Department of Work and Income, the Ministry of Social Policy and the advocate groups themselves.

For further information please contact:
Robert Reid, tel: (04) 237 5062 (w); (04) 389 5399

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