Saturday, September 20, 2014

WINZ - between a rock and a very hard place

As a consequence of the terrible Ashburton killings, Work and Income has closed 29 sites until security can be reviewed. Their WINZ website page is now emblazoned with

The satellite sites are located at the following locations
  • Northland - The Pulse
  • Auckland - Great Barrier Island and Wellsford
  • Waikato – Coromandel, Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Whangamata, Whitianga
  • Bay of Plenty - Katikati, Putaruru
  • East Coast - Te Araroa
  • Taranaki - Ohakune
  • Central - Featherston
  • Canterbury - Akaroa, Cheviot, Oxford
  • Southern – Fairlie, Geraldine, Lumsden, Nightcaps, Ohai, Otautau, Riverton, Te Anau, Tuatapere, Twizel, Waimate, Waimate (St. Johns), Winton.
Social security is a huge industry in this country with MSD having 300 centres of employment. So 90 percent remain open and can never be fully secure.

An opinion writer at Stuff says:
The Ashburton killings weren't part of a rash. They horrified the country because they were extraordinary. Winz should react by securing its offices, not overreact by shutting them.

My worry is making it harder for people to access help, especially when they are desperate, could escalate the situation.

But WINZ visits are often also about getting work. That's on hold too.

On the other hand the safety of WINZ staff must be the first priority.

Of course the whole dilemma is magnified by having far too many working-age people dependent on benefits.


David said...

You can understand the reaction at WINZ. And yet … I have seen hospital reception areas with similar signs and I think they are a mistake. Threats and abusive language can be an indication that the person making them is under stress. Front line staff need to have training to recognise symptoms and act appropriately so as not to make the situation worse.

S. Beast said...

As if it wasn't hard enough living as an unemployed/low income person in a rural area.

Would it be possible to serve these people remotely in a manner similar to the Remote Unit without the internet given the high cost and lack of coverage? Alternatively it would be nice if Work and Income include the cost of internet and additional transport (possibly even altering the TAS calculation to take this into account as internet isn't included as an essential cost).

Without additional support these people will shift into urban areas with higher accommodation costs and perhaps away from family support.

Anonymous said...

National said they would get more people off benefits.
What better way than to close the WINZ offices.

When you look at the offices closed a lot are in places there is no work so it is not as if they could get them into jobs.

We voted for cruelty. I guess we get to see how many would starve to death.

How much is a return trip from Great Barrier?


Anonymous said...

The last comentator has hit the nail on its head: Winz are using health and safety as an instrument to further restrict access to folks in need entitlements to adequate support.
Many Many New Zealanders have first hand experience of WINZ staff tendency to threaten clients with expulsion, trespass, and police (Health and safety?) when the client has done no more than reasonably display dismay and aguish in the face of a Staff members offhand "Im not prepared to accept your application/change of address or enquiry as to entitlement". In such instances it is not a disenfranchised client ming the threat, but rather a lazy, incompetent, or poorly trained staff member using the Health and Safety Policy in a way that beggars belief i.e., as a threat.
Usually the dialogue follows the form of" Client "I want some help", Staff " to prepared to help", C. "Eh?" Staff Your not getting any help from me." C. " What the F**K?" S. Your swearing. Your threatening me. Leave now or I will have you trespassed, and will call the Police." C. "but its your job to update my address." S. "the police have been called. you'd better leave now before they arrive." Client leaves, several days later a letter canceling benefit due to lack of current Address,along with a trespass notice.
notice some glaring inconsistencies with the Official explanation and allocation of blame, and note that the correspondence some how manages to find the client!
Winz is not only responsible for delivering bad social policy, but they are often acting in a fashion that also threaten the very wellbeing and dignity of clients, and raises the risk level for other staff members.
Miss-use of Health and Safety Policy as an instrument of bureaucratic abuse of vulnerable clients makes a mockery of the health and safety legislation and needs to be the focus of any formal investigation.