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Child rights abuses in WINZ policies

Thursday 24 October 2013, 1:39PM
By J. James
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Recently – yet another young mother with an 8 week old baby was told to go out and find full time work – her baby’s rights to a full time mother was superseded by new punitive measures to get people into the work force – Baby blair was not the first child to have their rights taken away – nor their food nor their home – it’s a common practise in New Zealand to disregard the rights of the child

It is also common practise to punish the most vulnerable while supporting the most wealthy

Recently the NZ cabinet agreed to provide $5 million in bridging finance to fund team NZ to ensure staff are secured until 2014 – this ‘benefit’ was not from WINZ of course and there would be no punitive conditions laid out upon receipt of it and no ones kids would go hungry unlike baby Blair and the many hundreds of thousands of other nameless babies – toddlers and children whose parents for whatever reason find themselves unable to pay their rent, or even afford a house or buy food when benefits are cut because  hoops were not jumped through in the right order or time or the right way

In his ground breaking documentary – Minding the Gap – film maker Bryan Bruce revealed that more resources, time and energy go into enforcing punitive measures and prosecutions against beneficiaries  then for tax dodgers – it was revealed that errant tax payers owed the government something in the vicinity of  BILLIONS of dollars – yet more effort go in to pursuing  the most vulnerable  - sole mothers, sick and disabled people over riding the rights of all children involved

There is something quite perverse in a society that does this and in its wake cares nothing for the rights of the children – creating hideous justifications for this persecution while supporting the already wealthy 

As Bryan Bruce has pointed out in his assessment of this latest child abuse by WINZ – it’s the baby’s rights that have been abused and the mothers background or circumstances are irrelevant

In November 2006 an important document was created by the institute of public policy at Auckland University it was titled CHILD IMPACT REPORTING and in part it said this

“…..It is stating the obvious to say that public policy decisions affect children and that failure to consider their likely effects on children could lead to unforeseen, negative outcomes…… New Zealand policies of the 1990s are a case in point. In 1991 benefits were slashed at a time when unemployment was already on the rise. Between 1992 and 1999, 11,000 state houses were sold and from 1993 state house tenants were charged market rentals (Johnson 2003). In the wake of this, the rate of child poverty soared (from 13.5% in 1987/88 to 34% in 1992/93)  as did rates of overcrowding, substandard housing and a raft of poverty-related diseases, including the meningococcal epidemic which caused 119 deaths between 1991 and 1998 ……."

it goes on to say this ……

One way that such consequences might be avoided in future is by increasing the visibility of children in the development of public policy. Child impact assessment is a process which does precisely that. By this process, prior to the implementation of a policy, its likely impact on children is assessed. Policy is assessed against the principle of “the best interests of the child”; it is then adjusted to mitigate or remove any negative impacts and, where possible, to maximize benefits…

has this been implemented – and if not why not ?

New Zealand has ratified the UN convention on the rights of the child in 1993 – however it does not seem that it has been implemented nor has it been monitored in the case of the MOD punitive changes towards the most vulnerable

New Zealand already has a high degree of dead babies and children from families in receipt of benefits – and the stress of having no money for food or clothes is one familiar to a growing number of us 

The role of motherhood is devalued and the rights of the child are ignored even though this government and all governments are signatories to rights  that should be protecting every single child unfortunate enough to have a parent in need of financial support

There is something morally reprehensible about the way a government - using such abusive tactics while citing a cost burden to the country  - turn around and support already wealthy individuals for a boat race by giving them five million - give it back - shame on you 

Where are the human rights lawyers ?

where are those whose job it is to ensure – being a signatory to such ratified rights of the child are actually being protected – where are you ?

And why is  Minister Paula Bennett able to continue this abuse without accountability

There certainly does have to be some changes in WINZ but not the ones currently being drawn from the Victorian era where children were wet nursed while their mothers were forced to work

what sort of mockery is the rights of the child if no one is actually looking at what winz is doing ?

Who in positions of power and influence will stand up and look into the policies being implemented by winz and lay them out against the rights of the child – who amongst you will look at the impact government departments are having on the rights of the child  - who ?

Does a person loose their human rights and the rights of their child when they sign up for support from WINZ – all evidence seems to suggest that this is the case for the children

“…….The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends that states which have ratified the Convention adopt child impact assessment for all policy that affects children ……(UN Committee on the Rights of the Child 2003:11). This recommendation has been heeded to varying degrees by governments around the world, including Belgium (Flemish Parliament), Finland, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Sweden. ………Here in New Zealand, the Agenda for Children, which was endorsed by the Government in 2002, proposes child impact reporting as a possible future development……”

its now 11 years on ......That future is NOW – and if not why not