Alternative Welfare Working Group, Welfare Justice, released its final report “Welfare Justice for All” today at the Wellington Catholic Centre.
The authors of the 164-page report – Mike O’Brien, Sue Bradford, Paul Dalziel, Mamari Stephens, Muru Walters and Wendi Wicks - were asked by Catholic social justice agency Caritas, the Social Justice Commission of the Anglican Church and the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation of New Zealand to write an Alternative Report on Welfare Reform.
"Poverty, rather than dependency, should be the focus of welfare reform," says Dr O'Brien. “Welfare reform should be based on the relentless pursuit of well-being”.
The report suggests that New Zealand needs to invest more resources in the next generation by addressing income, housing, health and education needs in the present. The government needs to focus on addressing poverty and inequality, especially among the inherently voiceless in this debate - the children of beneficiaries, it states.
The group challenges the government's preoccupation with paid work, saying the work of caring for children and others also needs to be recognised.
The report follows five months’ voluntary work by the six appointed members and a team of supporters from the church, community and academic sectors, accomplished on less than 3 per cent of the government-appointed Welfare Working Group’s original budget of $1.1 million, including public meetings, submissions and research. Their reflections and recommendations are a significant contribution from the Church, community and academic sectors to the welfare debate Social Development Minister Paula Bennett called for at the Welfare Working Group Forum in June.
Welfare Justice was set up with the aim of ensuring beneficiaries and community groups are part of the debate on government welfare reforms and out of concern that the government’s official working group does not represent those most affected by changes to the welfare system.
For more information or a copy of the report contact Lisa Beech at Caritas 04 496 1742