Friday, August 27, 2010

Winston Smith on bleeding hearts

He does it again. Adeptly exposes the shonky kind of thinking that proliferates among social workers and various other do-gooders (in my own experience);

One of the issues that I have had intense debate with other colleagues over is the issue of an open office door policy where a teenage resident can just walk in to the staff office uninvited to seek support, guidance or more often than not complain or make an unreasonable demand or hurl abuse at you if the mood takes them. The other day one of my colleagues, Nicola, decided to rebuke me for the fact that the office door was closed upon her arrival as this was injurious to her working philosophy of the bleeding heart. She also complained because I demand that the young people knock and wait to be invited in to the office. A diplomatic yet heated debate ensued.

"Winston, why do you close the office door and ask the young people to knock? We have an open door policy here so that the young people can feel they can talk to us about anything at anytime and we don't believe in barriers here."

"Well Nicola, I've talked to Jim, the manager and he said its up to the discretion of the staff and when Im lone working it will be closed. The reason that I am opposed to an open door policy is that it doesn't actually help the young person in that in the real world you have to queue for assistance in banks, shops, benefit offices, job interviews and so on. It also teaches the young person to practice patience which is a virtue in itself and it also teaches them that they are not the centre of the universe, just a part of it. Above all though, it fosters respect in the young person for other people who are taking time and effort to assist them. So, what you on the surface describe as me putting up a barrier is in fact imbued with values that I believe help develop functional young adults with respect, not deference, for their fellow citizens."

"Well, I think its authoritarian and this project is their home and they should be able to go in to whatever room they like and at the end of the day you are here to assist them not hide away in the office."

"Authoritarian? Are you equating my belief that people should knock on a door and wait to be invited in with the Third Reich or Franco's Spain? Perhaps you are right and trying to cultivate good manners is the thin end of a wedge that could lead to a modern day Auschwitz or Guernika. Sarcasm aside, I have spoken to all of our residents and informed them that when I am on shift that they can come and see me at anytime with any problem or with relation to any advice they need related to benefits or education. As they are used to being able to just walk in I have explained why I close the door, but that I am still available should they need me. Only two or three out of the fifteen of them seem to have a problem with this. The rest are fine with it. It seems to be you Nicola that are most opposed to my working practice and not the residents. We will just have to agree to disagree on this."

I saw no further point in talking to Nicola on this topic as I think her mind was well and truly made up. So, just what have been the fruits of the open door policy as practised by Nicola who also espouses a working philosophy of anti-authoritarianism, non-judgmentalism and an opossition to so called barriers? Well, upon coming to work one morning lately there was nowhere to sit for me as the office was full of teenage girls dressed in skimpy and revealing nightwear. Nicola saw nothing wrong with this until I objected and asked the girls to leave. When she is working the office is full of residents and ex residents and other waifs and strays from the neighbourhood, many of them stoned out of their mind and stinking of skunk weed. She allows them to take office materials such as pens, paper, sellotape, envelopes and to use the phone for personal calls. Instead of supporting our young people to do things for themselves, like fill in benefit forms or make their own enquiries to benefit or employment agencies, she will do it for them thus robbing them of the opportunity to learn to become independent. She never makes them wait for anything, including her time, and constantly reinforces in them what their benefit and state entitlements are. She rarely says no and has helped foster a belligerent, demanding, state dependent, instant gratification mindset in several current residents and many more of our ex-residents who still turn up looking for her 'help'. The likes of Nicola are very common across the state dependency sector. With so called support like this is it any wonder that so many youngsters leave supported housing even more entrenched in the value system of an excessive welfare state? The ironic thing is that we exist to help break this cycle and whilst we do have some success, in the majority of instances we are just making matters worse and perpetuating the existence of an underclass.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Questions I have asked myself

How long will it be before this appears somewhere under the headline 'Global warming'?

Did Heather Roy intend to prove just how much better she looks in a pin-striped suit than Rodney?

Would you vote for a man who is so serious about cutting rates he is prepared to do the job of mayor for nothing?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The ACT saga continues

Heather Roy will apparently appear on Close Up tonight, after turning up unexpectedly at Parliament today claiming business as usual, albeit as an MP rather than a Minister. This is getting worse for ACT. As someone who cared enough to stand as a candidate twice - a bigger commitment than being a member, and much bigger commitment than being a voter - if I am getting increasingly turned off then it's a safe bet many more are. To be fair I was pretty turned off anyway but if the antagonistic factions continue to co-exist I have sod all interest in the party left.

Bored with hysteria

The two following passages are just pulled off the net randomly to illustrate a common train of current thinking;

Stress and addiction - Drug Addiction

Many of us suffer from or will experience stress at some point in our lives. Stress appears to be a condition of modern life and even more so for those of us who are ‘asset rich but time poor’.

But too much stress can lead to addiction.

The pace of life has speeded up over the last decade or so and we find ourselves continually trying to keep up! Juggling the demands of work with family and friends can be difficult and this pressure often leads to stress.

"The fast pace that we live our lives is causing more problems then it is solving. Quality time has diminished while road rage, automobile accidents, and health problems are all on the rise due to our fast-paced lifestyles.

The fast pace of our lives leaves little time for quality time over dinner. When I was growing up we would sit down and spend an hour taking about the day’s events and connecting with each other. With the speed of life as it is my dinners with my family are rushed to an average of 15 minutes, then it is on to the next thing each of us has to do that evening."

The next extract is from an article titled "The Mental Hospitals" and refers to the increasing admission rate.

It was from the Evening Post, September 6, 1910.

I am so bored with hysteria I cannot be fagged blogging about the changes to alcohol laws and what is driving them. Suffice to say the government takes our money to control us in ways that are unnecessary, ineffective, and unwanted.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Paula Bennett - big tick

I have talked before about MSD's habit of quietly posting stuff on its website late Friday. One such document appeared 2 days ago. The forward alone, by the Minister, Paula Bennett, is written in a different style from that to which we have become uncomfortably accustomed. I have not read the full document yet but there are shades of ex-Governor General Dame Silvia Cartwright's farewell speech in which she referred to NZ's "dark secret" ;

Minister’s Foreword: Why you should care

New Zealand is a land of opportunity and for most, a great place to bring up kids. But there is a dark side to this remarkable country which resides within too many homes.

Thousands of children are growing up unsafe and unprotected in chaotic homes. Many are abused and neglected by the very people who should love and protect them. This is New Zealand’s ugly secret.

In the last year Child, Youth and Family received over 125,000 reports from people concerned enough about a child’s safety to notify authorities. In over 21,000 of these cases, child abuse or neglect was confirmed. So that’s over 340 notifications and 57 confirmed serious abuse and neglect cases every day. That’s 2,400 reports of child abuse and neglect every week in New Zealand.

There is no excuse for beating, abusing and neglecting our children. No child’s life should begin this way. And when it does, the harm is substantial and long lasting. The social and economic costs of abuse and neglect are beyond comprehension. A baby shaken in anger and out of ignorance may be left with permanent brain damage, or even die as a result. Children beaten and sexually abused grow up carrying the burden of that abuse. Many driven by anger, low self esteem and distrustful of others, follow a path to crime and violence and many repeat their experience on the next generation.

The neglected child is a silent timebomb. Left alone, unwashed and unloved this child may not be physically bruised or injured but will be deeply affected and is unlikely to grow into a healthy, loving individual who is a productive member of the community unless we step in to help.

What we are discussing here is ugly, it is shameful and it is unpalatable. But it is New Zealand’s reality and one we must all address. Not just the Government, not just Police and Child, Youth and Family, but community, families, individuals, neighbours, teachers, friends, uncles, aunties. We must face this together. We must do everything we can to protect our children from abuse and neglect. This is a challenge for all New Zealanders. It is a challenge for Māori. Māori children
are over-represented in abuse and neglect statistics. Māori clients make up more than half of all findings of abuse. In New Zealand, there can be no excuse for beating and neglecting children.

I invite you to read this document. It shows that Child, Youth and Family is more responsive now than any time in the past two decades and able to respond to increasing notifications and reach out to more at-risk families. It outlines important changes to further improve the way we protect children which are in the pipeline as well as some recent initiatives. It’s clear there is a lot of work being done and more to do because protecting children and keeping them safe will always be a Government priority. Which is why we need to think about the following things:

No matter how efficient and how innovative Child, Youth and Family continues to be,
resources are limited. The organisation and its dedicated, hard working staff are coping well with current demand but in truth that only takes care of the critical cases.

We all know early intervention is the best way to make a difference, but Child, Youth and Family is in the position of having to throw the bulk of its resources into dealing with critical cases when the aim is to be more involved with families before things get really bad.

Surely, the answer ultimately lies in a change in our country’s culture; a change which leads to zero-tolerance for child abuse and neglect. Otherwise, we will continue to lead the world in beating, neglecting and abusing our children.
And we know those children who are abused and neglected are the same adults we
see years later filling New Zealand courts and prisons. Many of those who live ruined lives will ruin the lives of others - the victims of their crimes and also their own children. That is the price for tolerating child abuse. We must work together to protect our children.

Just scanning through the rest of the document, a detailed description of the work CYF is doing, it is similarly-written and shouts transparency. What a change.

And this is what Paula was trying to talk about on The Nation yesterday but the pathetic panel kept steering the conversation back to the Welfare Working Group, the 'manufactured crisis' and the awful spectre of insurance. Then they had the audacity to say she didn't have the intellect to pull it off.

What she can do is get into this child abuse area like no other player can. And I think she can make a difference.

But I return always to my main objection. All of the early intervention, which is clearly being stepped up, cannot combat paying people to lead dysfunctional lives and putting a monetary value on the children they have. Welfare reform is critical alongside the intervention.