WelCom June 2018:
Support for many, but social services will continue to struggle
Community social-services organisations say they welcome the Budget initiatives, announced 17 May 2018, to address poverty, health services, learning support and family violence, but that the Budget bypasses essential and intensive community-based child and family services in urgent need of more funding.
“This Budget has not recognised the extremely dire situation that community social services are experiencing”, said Trevor McGlinchey, Executive Officer New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services. “While, we are pleased to see the initiatives which will begin to address the needs of those in our communities who are living in poverty, the social services organisations who can support families and whānau to make the most of these new opportunities continue to be starved of resources. Like the primary health system, community social services provide support and treatment for families before their issues spiral out of control and need expensive higher-level services.”
The 2018 Budget has responded to the many signals from communities regarding the needs of their people, lack of housing, inability to meet their health needs, needs for improved schools, more teachers, and improved funding for early childhood education (ECE) and special education. This, along with increases in income and accommodation support delivered through the Families Package will see positive improvements in the wellbeing of some of those who live in poverty.
In the social services sector we see a much-needed boost in funding for community-based Family Violence services, which is fantastic news for this sector. The increasing funding going to community-based transitional housing and Housing First initiatives is what is needed to support those who are homeless to be homed for the long-term. Equally we hope that some of the resources for reducing the prison population will be channelled to community organisations which support the reintegration of those released from prisons. The ever-growing Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children receives a significant funding boost ($269.9 million over four years) to ‘expand its services’.
The core community-based social services sector received no additional funding. This sector has received no increases in funding for 10 years – not even a cost of living increase. Yet they provide essential services for hundreds of thousands of New Zealand’s most vulnerable citizens. The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services has worked with other social services umbrella organisations to alert Ministers to the situation of community providers and the impacts of this sustained lack of funding.
“Community social services are struggling to survive, we are likely to see further reductions and rationing of essential community services as organisations try to remain sustainable”, said McGlinchey. “We must have an interim funding programme for these organisations so they can properly support our communities until a more sustainable funding model is developed.”
New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services is the umbrella group for the social services of the Anglican Care Network, Baptist Churches of Aotearoa New Zealand, Catholic Social Services, Presbyterian Support NZ, the Methodist Church and the Salvation Army. (nzccss.org.nz)
Budget 2018 comments
ACROSS, Palmerston North
Graeme Munford, Director, ACROSS
The announcements in the Budget, 17 May 2018, provide potentially a welcome relief for those on low incomes says Graeme Munford, Director at ACROSS in Palmerston North.
There is still some way to go but a start has been made. It is hoped, as Minister Tracey Martin has indicated, that next year will see more support provided to community organisations like ACROSS who support these families.
Increases to funding across the board for essential social services will mean it can work more closely with other community organisations, as it does now, to ensure people who need it are getting the right help at the right time from those who can best provide it. ACROSS looks forward to continuing to work alongside government departments as well to provide that assistance ‒ it believes strongly that the state sector, particularly in its role in reducing child poverty and protecting children, has a fundamental part to play.
Most importantly, the Budget signals in our view, a desire to move away from punitive measures to manage those receiving income support. The funding of other services such as those in the housing area will hopefully be part of a package of funding designed to support those who most need it across other sectors, such health and education as well.
ACROSS Te Kotahitanga O Te Wairua is an Anglican, Catholic and Community Social Support Service providing social work, counselling and foster care services to families. (across.org.nz)
Napier Family Centre
Kath Curran CEO
The 2018 Budget gives a small nod to the call for more material support to helping people into housing, accessing health treatments, supporting education.
The financial boost to family violence services is welcomed as violence-free homes allow for other possibilities for whānau. Children and adults who can thrive, rather than using every ounce of living just to survive the day, go on to participating in healthier lives, contributing to community life.
It’s difficult though to see the vision that government have for community organisations. Community services are key to being part of transformational change for so many families but have been treated as simply a cheap resource. No increase in government contract funding in over 10 years means social services like Napier Family Centre are obliged to relentlessly fundraise to support this work. One example for our organisation is the social work contracts barely contribute 40 per cent towards costs that are already too lean for sustaining professionalism, practice standards and workforce health and safety. The irony is that in this current funding partnership model the onus is 100 per cent on us to prove sustainability, capability and outcomes.
Financials aside, we still believe it is a heartening trend of having no shortage of people making that courageous step in seeking help, extraordinary in their ability to find strength to make change.
Napier Family Centre was established in 1983 as a result of research commissioned by an inter-church group. It has grown its services to meet needs of Hawke’s Bay’s communities and is now a comprehensive provider for social services in Napier. (napierfamilycentre.org.nz)
Caritas welcomes Budget direction – ‘but lasting results will be the real test’
Caritas Aotearoa NZ says the Budget heralds proposed changes that could help families, people on low incomes and the environment. The Government will, however, still need to demonstrate how money reaches those at the grassroots and most impacted by poverty. Caritas is keen to hear how the Government will report against a broader set of well-being indicators and demonstrate its commitment to intergenerational welfare.
Julianne Hickey, Caritas Director, said, ‘[The] Budget promises a significant investment to increase support for family well-being and reduce child poverty.’
In its January submission on the Budget Policy Statement, Caritas referred to Climate Change as the ultimate intergenerational issue. There are no second chances for people whose homes are being impacted by rising sea levels and extreme weather events – both here in New Zealand and among our Pacific neighbours. ‘We are pleased to see joined-up thinking in climate change initiatives such as the Climate Change Commission, but we believe they do not go far enough and do not move quickly enough…on transforming New Zealand into a prosperous, low-carbon economy,’ Mrs Hickey said.
‘We need to have an integrated approach to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, responding to disasters, and climate change.’
Caritas welcomes the increased investment in relations in the Pacific. The real challenge will be to ensure this investment benefits the poor and vulnerable.
Caritas says it believes the Government is taking a step forward, but the real test will be in monitoring progress towards the goals that have been set. ‘Are the actions being taken leading to lasting transformation for those families and communities that need it most?’