Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dangerous WINZ clients

Remember the Harris family?

Fairfax newspapers reported Marcia Harris and her husband, former gang leader Darryl Harris, have claimed unemployment and sickness benefits continuously since 1984.

Three of the couple's four children are on benefits. The family got $30,000 in special-needs grants since 2000, including $16,000 in the past two years. Grants went towards car tyres and a pool fence at one of several properties the family owns in Christchurch....the family has been transferred to a special "remote monitoring" unit. The unit deals with Work and Income clients deemed too dangerous for face-to-face meetings with staff.

At the time I made comment that the people managed through this unit would be able to avoid face-to-face intensive management and work-testing. Now I reflect on this, it is really rather silly. Yes. My comment.

I received a letter from MSD saying that these clients "must meet their obligations, including work-testing, just like any other client."

That means that people deemed too dangerous, too aggressive and violent to have direct contact with case managers, are nonetheless expected to find work in other workplaces. Are they sent along for interviews with unsuspecting prospective employers? Somehow I doubt it.

There were 18 clients in 2004, when the unit was established. Now there are 52. Fifty six percent are on an invalid's benefit and 77 percent are male. Two have dependent children. I hope their children are safe.

What should happen to people like this? In the past they were probably institutionalised. When the benefit system was introduced there was a strong and accepted ethos that people had to be of good moral character and sober habits. Sounds archaic but we have since travelled to the other extreme, where the benefit system is the place where people with acute anti-social behavioural problems are parked.


Anonymous said...

What should happen to people like this?


as whaleoil would say.

nothing else is going to work.

Oswald Bastable said...

They have a lead deficiency.

They need 158 grains of it between the eyes.

wino said...

This is just so ridiculous! Obviously if you can't be polite and behave in a non threatening manner towards WINZ staff you shouldn't get a benefit. So simple in my view - I must be missing something.

Anonymous said...

I was being difficult during a meeting with the IRD several years ago and was told if I did not moderate my behaviour they would call the police.

If only IRD could take a leaf out of the WINZ book.


Lindsay Mitchell said...

What a shame they didn't threaten to cut off your taxes...

The police are involved in some cases and trespass notices have been issued.

Anonymous said...

Laughs out loud at Lindsay's quip.

they did call their own secruity which consisted of two elderly gentlemen who spoke with north of England accents or some such place. If you stood them on top of each other they would not have reached my shoulder.

Having dealt with beligerent pommie union organisers back in the seventies and eighties I was in no mood to listen to these throwbacks from yesteryear, hence the federales. I did a runner before I was dragged off to the pokey.

Discretion was the better part of valour.