Thursday, August 16, 2018

Matters regarding Family Violence

There's a report at the NZ Herald about family violence. It's come from NewstalkZB:

Figures released to Mike Hosking Breakfast under the Official Information Act show police launched 121,739 thousand family violence investigations last year - or 333 a day.....Yet as those numbers increase, the number of apprehensions and prosecutions is trending down with 16,764 prosecutions made last year – down more than 2500 from 2008. 
I had to read the report twice cause I couldn't understand the point they were trying to make. Why?

Look at the table they made:

Coincidentally, directly before reading this I was chewing through a research report into Pacific family violence.

Amazingly reference is made to 'family structure' being a contributor:

Changes in traditional family structures and dynamics that may contribute to violence in Pacific families include an increase in single-parent households and the absence of
fathers (and male role models) within the immediate family structure (Pacific Advisory Group, 2009). 
That's highly unusual from anything funded or published by MSD.

Also of interest, the Pacific authors make a point not often heard that 'Pacific people' are grouped together but comprise seven different island groups that do not necessarily share homogeneous cultural or belief systems which results in differing behaviours. Highlighting that is a graph that shows how varying the types of family violence are across the different groups:

(Left click on image to enlarge)

Update: The NZ Herald table has now been corrected.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Not naming fathers a "rort"

MEDIA RELEASE: Not naming fathers a "rort"

MSD Minister Carmel Sepuloni, and Green Party MP Jan Logie are promulgating misinformation about sanctioning mothers who won't name the fathers of their children.

The sanction, which takes around $28 from beneficiary mothers who do not provide the name of the father, is neither cruel nor excessive. If the mother fears risk of violence from a named father, Work and Income already provides an exemption. The Work and Income manual clearly states:

'Your benefit payments may be reduced if you don’t legally identify the other parent or apply for Child Support. In some situations you may not need to do this, for example if you or your child would be at risk of violence. Work and Income can tell you more about this.'

Minister Sepuloni has been advised by MSD:

'Repealing Section 70a could provide an incentive for clients not to apply for Child Support and establish private arrangements with the other parent. This is because clients would retain their full benefit rate and receive the child support paid privately.'

The previous Labour government acknowledged this practice and labelled it a 'rort'. Former MSD Minister Steve Maharey said in 2004,

'It is a rort, and I have said time and time again in this Parliament that fathers must front up to their obligations, and we will make sure they do, as much as we can...It is not unreasonable to expect that single parents bringing up children on their own identify who  in law is the other parent, or to expect that they seek financial support for the child from the other parent. It is not unreasonable to penalise financially those who do not.'

The current government has shifted a long way from their predecessor's position with no good reason.

Whatever fathers do not pay for their children, someone else will have to.

Carmel Sepuloni needs to explain why this is fair.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

More children being added to a Sole Parent benefit

MEDIA RELEASE: More children being added to a Sole Parent benefit

Data released under the Official Information Act shows that more beneficiaries on Sole Parent Support are adding children to their existing benefit.

Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell says, "The number of children being added to a Sole Parent benefit has risen from 5,384 in 2013 to 6,584 in 2017 - a 22% increase."

The number of children who are dependent on any benefit by the end of their birth year has also recently increased.

"At the end of  2017,  beneficiaries responsible for a child born that year numbered 9,810  - an average of 817 a month. But in the six months to June 2018 that average grew to 937 per month. A 15% increase."

The Ministry of Social Development links lower exits from benefits to higher payments for beneficiary families with children. Staying on a benefit and possibly adding a child is a behavioural response to more money.

The National government lifted basic benefit rates for families with children in 2016. Labour has since lifted Family Tax Credits for children of beneficiaries and introduced Best Start - a further $60 weekly payment for newborns in workless homes.

Children long-term dependent on benefits are far more likely to be abused or neglected; far more likely to grow up to be reliant on a benefit themselves and more likely to receive a community or custodial sentence.