Monday, 23 April 2012

Alternative Welfare Paths

The Alternative Welfare Working Group (AWWG) had their first meeting today. Many community groups felt that their views were not being heard by the government-sponsored Welfare Working Group, and wanted to make sure that all options were considered to provide the best outcomes for our communities.

Community and welfare activist Sue Bradford, a member of the AWWG, says, “This is a fantastic initiative for important and open debate, rather than just focusing on the Government’s pre-determined agenda. The AWWG has the ability to include a wider range of community organisations in the discussions.

“This is highly important as the Government’s proposed reforms could have the potential to completely overturn our social security system”.

The Welfare Working Group was established by Cabinet in April 2010 to undertake an expansive review of the welfare system. They are tasked with reporting back to the Government in December this year.

Like Downtown Community Ministry (DCM), the AWWG see an urgent need for a community-wide and informed debate in light of the Government’s welfare review. DCM believes there are several areas critical to supporting people to address high levels of debt, health concerns and access to stable accommodation.

Stephanie McIntyre, director of DCM says “There needs to be an emphasis on wellness and improving all outcomes for our service users, rather than focusing on simply getting them off a benefit”.

The AWWG was established by Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the Anglician Social Justice Commission and the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation of New Zealand. The AWWG intends to invite submissions and comments, and to hold opportunities for public discussion.

To find out more information, see the AWWG’s website