In late 2020 the Equality Network underwent a review focused on the questions of whether the Network should continue, and if so, how it would be resourced. The review found that the Equality Network had achieved a great deal during its ‘life’ and contributed to getting, and keeping, economic inequality on the political agenda. Over this time, other groups also began to work more overtly on the issue of economic inequality. The review concluded that despite the best efforts of all those involved, the Equality Network was experiencing a loss of direction and a lack of resources to continue functioning. The review recommended that the Equality Network cease to function.
Over the first few months of 2021, the Equality Network Committee discussed the review report and considered the next steps. After a great deal of deliberation, the Committee concluded that the best way forward was to close the Equality Network, despite the fact that economic inequality continues to be a significant issue for Aotearoa New Zealand. The Committee concluded that the review’s findings indicated that there may be other ways of networking and advocating on economic inequality that are more suitable and effective.
We acknowledge the care, thought and hard work that went into everything the Equality Network achieved over the years. It was, and is, important work. The good news is that the member organisations, and many others, continue this work. You can find out more about member organisation’s work here: MEMBERS PAGE
There remains much to do to make Aotearoa New Zealand a place where all of us flourish, together. Let’s keep collectively exploring, trying new things, and learning, to make this vision a reality.
This organisation comprises community, union, faith and other relevant groupings from across civil society. Te Ohu fosters active citizenship and civil society leaders with the ability to negotiate with decision-makers toward systemic and structural change. The purpose of the alliance is to address the causes of poverty in families and communities so we all flourish. The initial focus is Auckland but the long-term plan is to build city-based alliances around Aotearoa.
Youth confront Party candidates about their rising mental health issues.
“Young people like me are bearing the brunt of Covid 19 with big job losses. The pressure to find an income, but rejection after rejection as I apply for jobs, takes away my motivation. Then I look at the competition I face and I feel hopeless.”
These were the words of Sarah-Jane Seddon, the first of four young voters asking the questions to Party candidates last night at the Child Well-Being election forum focused both on inequities of health outcomes for children and young people’s rising mental health issues.
Sarah-Jane made a connection between the impact of a pandemic on New Zealand’s already broken health and disability system and the future job prospects of young New Zealanders.
“It seems to me that two problems might be solved at once – one the job prospects of young people, the other our health and disability system and thereby the well-being of our nation – if government majorly invested in health sector training and education.”
All six Parties answered positively to her challenge with various policy strategies. Minister Chris Hipkins of Labour introduced the concept of “micro-credentials” for health workforce training, such as learning to perform vital Covid 19 swabs to serve contact-tracing. Alfred Ngaro, representing National, spoke of privatising the health workforce to make it independent from government’s constraints and standards. Focusing on Sarah-Jane’s ethnicity, Green Party co-Leader Marama Davidson made note of the higher impact of job losses for Maori and Pacific women with a promise of equitable investment in both jobs training in health and mental health.
Leilani Naufahu came to the podium to speak for her older brother with epilepsy, and spoke of the racist attitudes preventing his fair treatment inside the system.
“My brother may never be cured of epilepsy, but this doesn’t mean the system should just give up on him. When his condition means he has to miss out of so many opportunities, surely the way he is treated by the health system shouldn’t make him miss out on more.”
Her question however was about the cost burden for her family, of having a long-term condition with persistent need of medication and treatment.
“Will your Party provide universal free primary healthcare to ALL children and young people no matter their illness, so that parents like mine aren’t burdened with what it costs long term to raise healthy children?”
Once again all Party candidates but Act answered with a “yes”, however for most it was more of a “yes but”. Numerous free services that are already introduced were boasted about by the major Party representatives but they stumbled on the timeframe for making children’s healthcare universally free.
“To be frank the minor Parties were more interesting. Jessica Hammond of TOP spoke of ring-fencing tax-takes from junk food and cannabis consumption – if the referendum gets a Yes vote – to pay for more free healthcare,” said Dr Prudence Stone, one of the event organisers. “Grae O’Sullivan of Act spoke of reducing the number of DHBs to free up money spent on unnecessary health bureaucracy. While you might not agree with them, these are at least practical policy solutions focused on the fiscal challenge Leilani brought to the candidates.”
Stacey Ryan and Thomas Lamont-Smith came to the podium to challenge the candidates specifically about the “mental health pandemic” among young people in New Zealand.
“I’m going to be blatant with you, the mental health system in this country is appalling. One in six kiwi students have reported a suicide attempt in the past year. Over half of openly LGBT youth have reported symptoms of depression and anxiety,” said Thomas. “In addition LGBT minorities have had mixed experiences of support within mental health services. I found that autistic LGBT people are not taken as seriously in a medical setting due to the practitioners’ pre-existing biases, in conjunction with inadequate education and training.”
“We say we want New Zealand to be the best place in the world to be a child. We are a long, long way from that target. The rapid rise in mental health concerns among young people over the last decade cannot be ignored,” added Stacey Ryan, a youth representative of United Community Action Network. “There is an urgent need to identify youth-specific risk and protective factors to inform effective prevention strategies that can be implemented from early childhood.”
Once again, the Party representatives all answered in agreement, with varying approaches for how to tackle the problem. NZ First’s Tailor Arneil promised more counsellors in the primary and secondary school setting, as well as addressing bullying in social media, although he was not specific how.
“The most interesting answer of the night for me came from the Minister of Health when he spoke about New Zealand’s ‘tyranny of happiness’ in our culture,” said Norma Mclean, first time voter and Twitch cameraperson for @RaiseYourVoices. “I related totally with him about our education system focusing on academic success and NCEA achievement, without recognising the value of failure for learning. He may not have had any solutions within mental health or healthcare, but I couldn’t have agreed more with him about where this mental health pandemic starts.”
“Every day NZCCSS members see desperate families and whānau both in work and receiving income support struggling to provide food and shelter. Their income is simply not enough to cover both rent for housing and the basic essentials necessary for their health and wellbeing. Having a liveable income and a warm, safe home is fundamental to the protection of our intrinsic value and dignity as human beings made in God’s image” says NZCCSS President, Ian Hutson.
The New Zealand Council Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) has a vision of Aotearoa New Zealand as a fair and compassionate society in which everyone has a ‘liveable income’, a warm, safe home and can participate meaningfully in their community.
In order to manaakitia te ara whakamua and create a fairer future NZCCSS urges all political parties to implement policies that ensure all New Zealanders have a liveable income, and can access to good quality, affordable housing.
This is a “high-income nation”: No one should be worrying about how to afford essentials like healthy food, hot water or the internet. For decades, government has played a part in concentrating resources among those who are already doing well. There are policies that drive economic inequality, and there are policies that limit the life chances of those who need the most support. When government policy is the driver, none of these inequalities is inevitable or natural: they are all the result of bad political decisions. So every election, we have the power to create a government full of better politicians who can make good, fair policy. Politicians aware and committed to the households that are struggling, and will introduce new income measures.
Special thanks to the Tick for Kids coalition for rallying Raise Your Voices, a group of young voters to develop this video for election 2020
From damp housing to unsafe work, doctors see every day the conditions worsening the health of thousands of New Zealanders. Dr George Laking of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians explains the four things we can do make a change for the better.
Physicians are specialist doctors who look after people with medical illnesses. We mostly don’t do operations. We listen to patients and whānau, find out what’s happening, and work out a plan for recovery.
Our plans may involve medicines, but we know health depends on a lot more. Health often requires linking people up with social supports. Most importantly, good health depends on change. We need to change the conditions that make health fail in the first place.
At hospitals, we often talk about the “revolving door” that keeps people coming back into care, again and again. The revolving door is there because the condition of people’s lives makes them sick. It does not need to go on like this. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) can point to four things that, when we get them right, will lead to good health for all New Zealanders.
These four things have long been known. They’re summed up in words famously associated with former Prime Minister Norman Kirk: “People don’t want much – just somewhere to live, someone to love, something to do and something to hope for”.
You won’t find a better prescription for a nation’s health than these words. They’re the starting point of the RACP’s work to #MakeItTheNorm. They’re backed up by our knowledge, experience, and evidence of the things that matter for health:
Somewhere to live: It needs to be the norm that everyone has healthy housing.
Someone to love: It needs to be the norm that all whānau enjoy wellbeing.
Something to do: It needs to be the norm that everyone has good work.
Something to hope for: There needs to be justice. Everyone has to have a fair go.
As Aotearoa goes to the polls, the RACP has one question: what are our elected leaders doing to make these four things the norm?
Our members are physicians and paediatricians working mainly in hospitals, all over the country. Every day, in clinics and on the wards, we see how New Zealand gets it wrong. We see the harm caused by cold, mouldy and damp housing; by whānau life on subsistence incomes; by unsafe and precarious jobs; and most perniciously, by inequity – the uneven access to resources that leads to avoidable and unjust loss of health.
The links have long been known between health and the conditions in which we gestate and are born, live, grow, work, play and age. Here, in more detail, is the prescription for change we need to make Aotearoa a healthier place.
The Māori Party is promising to halt all immigration into New Zealand until housing supply catches up with demand, if it becomes part of the next government.
It is part of the party’s housing programme, Whānau Build, unveiled today by co-leader John Tamihere.
The party is also vowing to allocate half of all new social housing units to Māori, and build 2000 homes on ancestral land over the next two years.
It is estimated to cost of $600 million – tagged from the government announced $20 billion Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
“These houses will be funded by the state as a long-overdue investment that others have taken for granted,” Tamihere said.
“It will help in resetting and reorganising Māori whānau and Māori whenua by making available land for papakaīnga and ensuring that our land is used in the best possible way.”
Tamihere said there would be special exceptions for some migrants.
“If we’ve got skill gaps, only, we would bring in people. And family integration, we accept that, because we’re as human as all other people. But other than that, we will put the shutter down and say, we need to take a breather here.”
“We’ve had 50,000 new immigrants coming in per year in 2017 and 2018, and heading into 2019 … we need to build our supply side up for housing to meet our demand.”
Tamihere said vacant or empty houses would be taxed to force them into the housing market.
“In Auckland, there’s 38,000 of them and unless they are brought into the housing stock and used for rental – because they are by and large [of] good quality – we have a problem.
“The question is, why would people leave these houses vacant after they’ve bought them? It’s because they double in price every eight years, so you’re going into a casino where you can’t lose. So you have to, for the sake of all New Zealanders, tax foreign ownership of residential property, particularly if its left vacant. If we don’t do that we will never get out of the housing crisis.”
The Overseas Investment Act would also be required to apply to all residential housing purchases because many of these vacant houses were owned by foreign interests, he said.
“It is expected this policy will free up over 50,000 houses and ensure that an asset class people invest in, but can never lose, has some consequences for the greater common good of our country.
“Immigration must be stopped until the supply side of housing meets the demand side. Immigration is causing disruption and adding to the false elevation in demand and therefore elevation in prices.”
The Māori Party is also hoping to impose a capital gains tax of 2 percent of the appreciation per annum on any property not considered a whānau home.
It is also pledging to stop the sale of freehold land to off-shore interests.
A Government plan to charge people for emergency housing like motels was derailed by Covid-19, but will now come into effect two days after the election
Dileepa Fonseka, Newsroom, 22 September 2020
For most of us the biggest event of the last two years was Covid-19, but for one South Auckland family it was a home renovation.
A family of seven (two adults and five children) have lived beside rodents, been shunted to different corners of Auckland, and had their belongings flooded out in a garage they used for storage – after their landlord of five years decided to renovate the property they lived in.
Mary* spends her days looking for houses, making applications for rentals, getting rejected then taking those seven-eight applications in to Work and Income at the end of the week – where she waits in line for three hours – so she can prove she hasn’t been able to find a house.
“Most of the time I’m stressing out here trying to deal with housing every week. Reporting and following everything they tell me to do to keep us here for my boys to have a roof.
“I don’t know how to do this … I don’t sleep at night. Even if I’m tired. I can sleep for three hours and I wake up and I feel like tired, but I just won’t sleep.”