web analytics

Advocacy activism in precarious times

Written By: - Date published: 5:31 pm, December 11th, 2012 - 25 comments
Categories: activism, benefits, child welfare, greens, labour, mana, Maori Issues, pasifika, unemployment, wages, welfare - Tags: , , , ,

In these troubling times, it was uplifting to see the flax-roots, practical and collaborative action at the Onehunga Recession Busting Impact rally for beneficiaries, organised by AAAP.  For 3 days, there are volunteers sitting at tables in front of the WINZ office in Onehunga Mall, giving support and assistance to enable those most in need to get the funding they are entitled to.

A little further along the Mall up to a hundred people attended a rally, as volunteers BBQed sausages for the public.

The rally began with an AAAP spokesman (sorry I didn’t catch his name) explaining the aim of the 3 days of action.  The assistance is being given by trained advocates and is called “direct action casework“.  Such people work alongside beneficiaries as advocates, providing guidance and support based on trust and understanding.

 

Jan Logie spoke about the way the Green Party valued all work that contributed to society, whether it was paid or unpaid.  She gave the example of the unpaid advocacy work being done for Impact.  Logie was critical of the current NZ government’s attitude that pitted paid against unpaid workers, and employed people against beneficiaries.  John Key’s vision is of a low paid workforce, enabled by a shortage of jobs and “precarious work”.  Later speakers also said similar things, using the same term.

Logie also said that hardship in our dysfunctional society was increased by discrimination against Maori, Pasifika and immigrant people, as well as against women and the disabled.  She hoped that this kind of advocacy action would take off and become more common.

The next speaker (sounded like Locka?), was a local community worker, born and raised in poverty in a Pasifika community.  She now did local community work supporting people on a range of issues.

Jacinda Ardern thanked all the activists on this issue. Clearly with Paula Bennett in her sights, she said all politicians should be held accountable.  She was critical of the way Bennett’s welfare reforms treated those on government support as criminals (drug testing) and the way the government was cultivating a “blame culture”.  Ardern wants the government to take responsibility and to return social security to the way it was originally intended: to provide the support needed to enable a dignified return to paid work, and for those that needed long term support, for them to be treated with dignity.  She ended by saying that on such issues, the Labour Party would work “alongside Mana and The Greens and hopefully the Maori Party.”

First Union, CTU

Andrea (Rushton?)  spoke on behalf of the Living Wage campaign. She represents the Service and Care Workers Union. A speaker for the First Union, also the Maori VP for the CTU, spoke against the demonisation of Maori as criminals and for the large proportion of Maori children living in poverty.  Like some of the other speakers, he criticised the government’s tax-cuts that benefited the rich, and supported the campaign for a living wage, especially for Maori households.

John Minto, speaking for the Mana Party, was indignant that NZ is a “land of plenty” but that this “plenty” was only being experienced by the few.  He promoted Hone Harawira’s  Feed the Kids Bill, due for its first reading on 13 February.  Minto asked “Can you believe it?”, that currently we are debating, “Should we feed our kids?” He said Mana believe in doing practical things and would put workers and any economic policy at the centre of the system.

The speeches finished with Sue Bradford thanking all the politcal parties that sent representatives to the rally.  They had invited representatives from all parties. National said they were too busy, and ACT didn’t reply.  The other parties (NZ First, UF, and Maori) were not mentioned.  Bradford said that she wanted all opposition parties to state their policies on social security, and to state they would wind back regressive laws.  She especially wanted a Labour -led government to overturn all the cut backs to social security made in the past by Labour and National-led governments.

Bradford  ended by saying that it would be necessary to keep the pressure on Labour not to sell out beneficiaries again, once they got into government again.  Bradford also thanked the unions for their support, saying that it was a welcome change to have the unions supporting beneficiaries, the unemployed and those doing precarious work.

The rally then marched down the Mall to the National Party office, carrying a “WORK WANTED” sign.  The sign was placed in the window of Sam Lotu-liga’s office and some work CVs were pushed under his door.  A guy standing at the side of the crowd said Lotu-liga was never there, and a uniformed policeman beside him laughed and told the protesters, “Even I can tell you he’s never at his office.”

Positive, practical, well-planned, collaborative, good humoured, friendly, inclusive, community-centred action.  I like it.

[Update: First Union, CTU photo added]

25 comments on “Advocacy activism in precarious times ”

  1. One Tāne Viper 1

    Great reportage, Karol.

    Keep it up.

  2. Johnm 2

    Sooner Goldman Sachs Key exits this land for Hawaii the better. Shallow piece of Americanised whatsit! This bloke is so lacking in a brain and heart and conscience it makes me sick!

  3. just saying 3

    I appreciate the important work you do in attending and reporting events like this one. It is activism in itself.

  4. Colonial Weka 4

    That sounds awesome, thanks Karol. So heartening to hear of such on to it proactive strategies as providing advocacy for 3 days at the door of WINZ. Wish I could have heard the speakers too. Jan Logie’s words are the right anti-dote to Shearer and Key (yes Shearer, that’s how we see you now).

    • One Tāne Viper 4.1

      Yes, Shearer, that is how we see you now.

      • Tazireviper 4.1.1

        +1

        • xtasy 4.1.1.1

          In the House today:

          Shearer and Peters: “Mediocre”.

          Turei from the Greens: Excellent!

          Key: “Out of it, or high on something, extremely busy distracting with attacks on Labour!”

    • rosy viper 4.2

      +1 – even Ardern’s words were an antidote to Key and Shearer 😉

      I also like that the term social security instead of the odious social welfare is used in this post.

      • karol 4.2.1

        Hah!  Yes, rosy.  I just admit, I did start to type “welfare” a couple of times, but when I checked my notes, people like Bradford had used the term “social security.”

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    What an excellent action, practical assistance and advocacy for people and political consciousness raising.

    To paraphrase Paul Blair a very experienced beneficiary advocate from Rotorua, on RNZ this morning: “Onehunga (WINZ office) was not too bad actually, they (WINZ offices) are all bad of course, just some are badder than others”.

    And it is the mana stripping, bullying, lying by omission culture that puts many people off applying for their entitlements as citizens.

  6. xtasy 6

    You would not believe it. Presently I depend on WINZ again.

    I could not attend the event, due to other commitments, but due to some other matter, I had to drop a form off at the Onehunga WINZ office late afternoon.

    UNBELIEVABLE! I have NEVER been treated with such courtesy, respect and dignity by any of the staff there, since I ever had to deal with them years ago!

    I saw the advocates and Sue Bradford talking with some journalist. I had little time, so did not stop to chat. But anyway, inside WINZ, the atmosphere was subdued, at the same time every staff member appeared to be so “hard working” and worried about all needs of anyone coming in to be looked after, this has NEVER been like this before.

    At the reception I was greeted by my name, instantly by a case manager who knows me well, and also later by another one, who I even flew off at once.

    What a MIRACLE AAAP’s presence has created there for all beneficiaries, to suddenly being taken so seriously, treated fairly, listened to and feeling acknowledged once for all.

    The whole service offered there at present, plus the little demo in the lunchtime and early afternoon time, this has sent a great, welcome message home to WINZ and the beneficiaries in the area!

    THANK YOU SO MUCH, ALL OF YOU AT AUCKLAND ACTION AGAINST POVERTY!

    This is recommendable, and I hope other advocacy services will learn from this and follow this up in front of other WINZ offices all over the country.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 6.1

      Agreed!

      Porirua is the third (?) largest service center in the country, bigger than those in Wellington central. Hope we get something like this action down here. God knows it’s badly needed.

      Great to see some excellent politicians along too : )

      • David Viperious H 6.1.1

        I’m in Levin I already have a framed letter of apology from them.
        But in the last 6 months or so I find that they are not as helpful as they used to be. Mind you that could be because half of the staff have vanished (the good ones) so now we have to deal with the rude, the sighers, (big sighs) And the ‘commentators’ the (“I dont spend money on that”) Now I have to go and battle them next week Oh joy.

    • AAAP 6.2

      Kia ora Xtasy,

      Thanks so much for these kind words. Love hearing how the atmosphere has changed and that so many people are leaving Work and Income with big smiles on their faces.

      These kinds of stories are important, and we’re really keen to compile them so that we have a record that this kind of action has a positive effect.

      Would you mind if we used this story (anonymous of course) in our ongoing campaigning?

      Please get in touch with me if this is at all possible 🙂

      Thanks

      Chris Zack
      (chris.zack@aaap.org.nz)

    • fender Viper 6.3

      “THANK YOU SO MUCH, ALL OF YOU AT AUCKLAND ACTION AGAINST POVERTY!”
      +1

      Great post Karol, 1st class.

      The portrait of Bennett has really captured her blackened soul perfectly, great work artist responsible.

      • karol 6.3.1

        Thanks, fender.  I don’t know if it’s clear from the photo, but the Bennett caricature has a couple of vampire teeth.

  7. Good stuff Karol.

    I tell you the really frustrating part about factional politics is that it draws us away from campaigning on issues that really matter.  Like poverty and excessive wealth and making sure that social security (yes!) protection is maintained and enhanced. 

  8. kiwi_prometheus 8

    I like the “Jobs Wanted” sign on the Nats office and the police laughing about the M.I.A. Nat guy.

    Don’t like this or should I say the double standards of – “spoke against the demonisation of Maori as criminals”.

    How about someone on the Left speaking up against the demonisation of men as rapists by the Feminist zealots?

  9. Jenny 9

    Here in Papakura I hear that many young people who are unemployed are not on any benefit. Mainly because WINZ here are so oppressive and abusive, and the unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles they make people jump through keep young people especially from getting their entitlement.

    How they survive I don’t know.

    One of Papakura WINZ favourite tricks; When an unemployed person goes to WINZ to sign on, instead of allowing them to sign on for a benefit, Papkura WINZ give them an address to go to for a fictitious job interview. After borrowing the money for gas or a bus fare to get there and spending most of the day going to this interview they return to WINZ the next day and are given another fictitious job address to go to. Of course none of these jobs eventuate. This procedure can go on for weeks and still no job and no income to show for it. It is only when people are reduced to crying and weeping, are they finally allowed to see a case manager “to assess your needs”.

    I also hear that many on those surviving on benefits are sometimes just cut off for no reason at all, just to see if they complain.

    The whole experience is so degrading and humiliating it probably explains why young people in Papakura with few jobs and no income give up, and drift towards the gangs.

    Does this rigamarole and runaround happen in other areas?

    Maybe AAAP might like to investigate. I would gladly give them a donation for their efforts.

    Do they have a website?

    • fatty 9.1

      Their website is http://aaap.org.nz/
      Or, they have a facebook page here.

      I am interested if there are similar beneficiary advocacy groups throughout other main centres? I know that places like the City Mission & Sallies offer these kinds of services, but its not their focus.

    • karol 9.2

      Appalling stories, Jenny that are similar to others coming from different sources and places – probably staff trying to follow directions from above to save money and treat claimants as criminals.

      I linked to the AAAP website in my post above.  The website is here, and there are contact details. 

    • Johnm 9.3

      Hi Jenny
      “I also hear that many on those surviving on benefits are sometimes just cut off for no reason at all, just to see if they complain.” True:
      A friend of mine has lived in the same house for 20 years and is currently on a unemployed benefit.He has an answer phone. It takes 6 rings for the answer machine to start up. While he was out Winz rang him about 6 times (Heard by a fellow house mate) to contact him but hung up before the answer phone could begin. Once he received a message from them and he phoned back and had to leave a message on their answer phone. They then said he couldn’t be contacted though they had his email address and not sending him any notification by letter cited Section 81 of the SS Act to stop his benefit.
      Realising this with no payment he phoned them and made a formal complaint of harrassment. They had no appointment for him for 8 days! But pleading hardship he got an appointment the next day where the benefit was reinstated. The effect on him has been demoralising and depressing the complete opposite of the climate you’d want for job hunting. The reality he was at all times contactable and the excuse to cut his benefit an outrageous trigger happy ploy. He really feels contempt for these “case managers now” who have behaved as arrogant bullies.
      I well believe they are bullying and oppressing young people out of their rights and the culture is coming from the very top. 🙁

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago