Māori social service supporting government’s plan to overhaul welfare system
A Māori social service organisation in Wellington is supporting the government's plan to overhaul the welfare system.
Social service agencies say they're overwhelmed by beneficiaries’ needs on a daily basis which will increase during winter according to the CEO of Kahungunu Ki Pōneke Whānau Services, Ali Hamlin-Paenga.
“Yes we do have an increase in numbers, but this is not only due to the winter months. We're seeing this on a daily basis. The system is not responding at this point and I think the biggest change that needs to occur in these organisations is around culture - and the culture of the people in there.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is also concerned about those beneficiaries and says the culture at Work and Income (WINZ) needs to change.
“Someone who didn't realise that they had an appointment who subsequently had their benefit cut off, who went in to seek another appointment immediately in order to rectify the situation only to be told the books were full and that they would have to come back in several weeks. These kinds of decisions have huge ramifications for people and their lives.”
Hamlin-Paenga supports the Prime Minister's sentiments.
“As a Māori organisation we're often stretched to capacity but we're getting called in to support whānau when it's their given right to actually access certain service.”
Her organisation is looking at alternative ways to help whānau.
“So, we're working with the soup kitchen here in Pōneke and this is about looking at alternative activities to keep them well and keep them safe during the weather that's up ahead. So we'll be looking at running Te Reo classes in the garden, we'll be looking at growing rongoā, and looking at what food preparation can be done with the kai that's in there.”
It'll take a collective effort to overcome poverty.