Thursday, April 08, 2010

Whanau ora - overhyped

Turia has been appointed Minister of Whanau Ora. The media is billing whanau ora as potentially the biggest shake-up in welfare in decades. But whanau ora is about welfare services - not welfare cash transfers. There is nothing in the report released today that would indicate whanau ora providers will take over administration of benefits.

How much can whanau ora be expected to achieve in terms of changing behaviour - or as John Tamihere would put it, getting beneficiaries/clients to meet their obligations - when services and benefits are separate? It is like tasking a group within a large company with lifting worker's productivity but giving it no capacity to penalise or reward either motivated or lazy workers. So while some are hailing this development as a great step forward, I will wait and watch.

Whanau ora is about the whole of family approach. Personally I have seen high risk whanau where one (or two) bad eggs keep pulling others down. 'Blood is thicker than water' does not serve Maori well in this respect. So increasing the well-being of the whanau still rests on the individual and his or her efforts.

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