The quote I referred to earlier this week sounded like something Margaret Thatcher would say but was actually contained in a response from MSD to media regarding a news item that claimed there were no benefits for 16-17 year-olds and that was why teenagers were living in the bush.
That's an utter nonsense and the media shouldn't just repeat assertions without establishing their veracity. But news is now more important than truth.
Any youth or young parent can walk into Work and Income and begin a process of assistance if they can't live at home and have no other means of support. No, they won't simply get cash thrown at them as per the old Independent Youth Benefit. They will be assigned to a Youth Service Provider who will work out what they need to do in terms of training towards their future, parenting courses perhaps, enrolling any child with a GP, etc. The money they receive from Work and Income will be managed to ensure rent, board, power and other debts get paid. It's not a cushy number any more. But to say they have no option but live in the bush is wrong.
Hence the response from MSD which contained the quote I alluded to:
Assistance for Young People
14 January 2016.
Following enquiries regarding the assistance available to young people living rough in Auckland, MSD wants to assure the public that there is support for young people who find themselves in vulnerable situations.
Any young people with serious housing or other social services needs should get in touch with us as soon as possible. We would also encourage people in the community to alert us to groups that might need our help.
We’ll then get a good understanding of their individual needs so we can talk about the various types of support available, determine what will make a difference for them, and put plans in place to help.
There are benefits available to young people aged 16 or 17 who are unable to live at home. For this group the Youth Service provides wrap-around support. This includes mentoring, budget assistance, and help to continue school and training, so they can gain the skills to find a job and have an independent future.
In addition, if there is a care and protection concern, we’ll assess the young person’s needs and determine, along with other agencies, what needs to happen to support them.
Young people often want to make their own decisions about where they live and we work with them to make sure they’re in a safe and appropriate living situation. We don’t do this alone - a range of agencies and community organisations work together to support vulnerable young people. But at all times we must remember that State support cannot and does not replace the love and care of a supportive family. (My emphasis).
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