Thursday, September 03, 2015

New paintings

Just updating my artist blog, another return to my favourite subject; historic black and white historic photos of Maori used to produce colourful portraits.

These two are part of a mini exhibition of Paintings from Historic Photographs hung in the foyer of Revera House, 48 Mulgrave St today. The building is multi-storied and the feedback from occupants as I hung the works was very warming.

Ben Carson tied with Trump

Now I am started to get interested in the US presidential race. A report in this morning's DomPost says, "...this week a Monmouth University poll had [Ben Carson] tied in first place with Donald Trump." (And for balance here is a rejoinder describing Carson as a "Wingnut with a calm bedside manner").

This first I knew of Ben Carson was a lengthy interview conducted by Leighton Smith, who is perfect for that job given his knowledge of Carson.

There isn't enough 'live and let live' about Carson's personal philosophy for my taste but much of what he espouses nevertheless makes perfect sense. The man himself, the way he speaks and the way he comports himself are compelling, as is his life story. He is vehemently against socialism. That apparently makes him an 'extremist'.

When pushed by Leighton Smith on the subject of whether he would stand for president he was non-committal. But I found myself hoping that he would. And the impression he made on me is starting to multiply across the States.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Code for an attack on the govt and welfare reforms

CPAG Summit - Welfare fit for families in a changing world

2 September 2015

A Child Poverty Action Group summit in Auckland next week will look at what needs to change for New Zealand’s welfare and child policy to support all children and families in the 21st Century.

In conjunction with the Department of Paediatrics at Auckland University and the Retirement Policy and Research Centre (RPRC), CPAG will host a summit on welfare on Tuesday 8 September on the topic, Welfare fit for families in a changing world. The summit will look at how policies can be a better fit for the 21st century in a time of challenging change in the social and work environment.

CPAG has consistently called for policy which puts the best interests of the child at centre and says almost all social policy would look different if children’s needs took priority....

An exciting range of speakers includes Trevor McGlinchy of NZCCSS, Sarah Thompson of Auckland Action Against Poverty, Moira Lawler of Lifewise, senior researcher Michael Fletcher of AUT, early childhood expert Lesley Lyons, youth ambassador Nardos Tilahun, former Children’s Commissioner Ian Hassall, Deborah Morris-Travers of UNICEF and statistician Len Cook.

In an important session, speakers Reb Fountain and Mike Treen will address the Welfare/work interface, looking at a sole parent’s transition to work and how the changing world of work is impacting on welfare.

Spokesperson Associate Professor Mike O’Brien says, "The basic principles of simplicity, equity, adequacy, neutrality, efficiency and generosity which underpin New Zealand superannuation have served older New Zealanders well. They should also be applied to how we treat our children."

There will be no rabble outside protesting, pushing around attendees etc. That's because the usual protesters will be inside. But it'd be nice to see some ordinary sorts quietly holding banners.
Image result for US TEa Party

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Waitangi Tribunal claim against state for failing to reduce Maori offending

My simple understanding of the Waitangi Tribunal was that it existed to put right misdeeds perpetrated on Maori regarding land. So I checked the official description:

The Waitangi Tribunal was established in 1975 by the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975. The Tribunal is a permanent commission of inquiry charged with making recommendations on claims brought by Māori relating to actions or omissions of the Crown that potentially breach the promises made in the Treaty of Waitangi.

Claims have become increasingly imaginative as understandings of what the Treaty "promised" have developed.

Here's an interesting one. A claim against the state for failure to stop Maori offending and reoffending:

Tribunal Claim: Too Many Māori in Prison And Reoffending
31 August 2015
Waitangi Tribunal Claim Filed Against Corrections Alleges Too Many Māori in Prison And Reoffending
Tom Hemopo, a retired probation officer, has today filed an urgent claim to the Waitangi Tribunal on behalf of himself and his iwi alleging Crown failures to reduce the number of Maori in prison and high reoffending rates.
The ‘Corrections Claim’ targets the Department of Corrections which has failed to reduce high rates of reoffending by Māori and has the support of two Hawkes Bay iwi entities - Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated and Ngāti Pāhauwera Development Trust.
Following on from this it isn't difficult to envisage many more claims against the state eg the failure of CYF to reduce the number of Maori children in care.

In fact using Youth Court appearances as an indicator, the number of Maori offenders has halved since 2008. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

"All lives have equal value"

Ross Bell of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, has written a column in today's DomPost about doing more to stop drug overdoses by increasing availability and access to Naloxone, an injectable drug which can reverse an overdose.  Bell loses me with this sentence,

"Our failure to realize all lives have equal value has meant that until now we have failed to prevent unnecessary deaths."

Someone who takes risks with their own life daily by putting dangerous doses of drugs into their bodies by definition values his or her own life less than most. If Bell is arguing for public funding of Naloxone, the debate about lives and relative value will be invoked.

Health is rationed. Funding is limited. Hospitals already practice rationing and age plays a big part. In the health system all lives do not have equal value.

(But I'd have no problem with families of addicts or alcoholics purchasing the Naloxone for emergencies. It is available in New Zealand.)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Only 64 Asian children in state care

Talkback and news yesterday was dominated by the report from the Children's Commissioner citing the inadequacies of state care and CYF.

It has inevitably been heavily politicised, for example by the DomPost this morning. They like to bitch at the current Minister.

A crucial failing: while 58 percent of the children in care are Maori, the system often fails to meet their needs. Some extra senior Maori staff have been appointed, the report notes, but many Maori staff are overworked. Major change is needed here. What is the Minister, a Pakeha with no obvious empathy or experience in Maori issues, doing about it?
So, the "system" often fails to meet the needs of Maori children.

First and foremost their parents and families failed to meet their needs.

All of these problems would disappear if every child had a parent or guardian dedicated to their needs. Pie in the sky? Not really. The Asian community almost achieves it.

The 0-17 Asian population in New Zealand is around 119,500 according to the last census. There were 237,500 Maori of the same age.

So the Maori population is double the Asian yet has 46 times more children in state care.

New Zealand, instead of overtly or covertly disapproving of Asians, should be looking at what they do that keeps their children safe and protected.

That would make more sense then yet another overhaul of CYF.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The latest CYF instalment

The Children's Commissioner has released a report about children in state care, and Simon Collin's coverage extends to the general state of CYF and intended overhaul.

I have read histories of child welfare work in NZ. I've read every author who knows anything worth knowing on the subject. Commissions of inquiry, radical organisational changes, transfer of responsibility between departments, name changes and reforming legislation are the norm.

The nature of CYF is chaotic because it deals with chaotic people. The organisation is in crisis because it exists to respond to crisis. No law changes, or system revamps, or 'best practice' applications will change that.

I feel sorry for the people who work with deeply dysfunctional families. The best of them burn out, and the worst become desensitized.

This latest from the Commissioner, and then Paula Rebstock's panel to "transform" CYF are just part and parcel of the ongoing drama that is chasing the tail of  inter-generational social malaise driven by paying people to have babies.

One particular statistic stood out from the Herald item though:

Maori make up ... 68 per cent of young people in the nine CYF residences, compared with 24 per cent of all children under 15. 

Tragic. Especially when a good chunk of it evolves into 50 percent of adults in state residences.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

But you knew that in advance

Simon Collins has a lengthy piece in the NZ Herald today detailing the costs parents face when they want to return to work. 

He describes the case of one young couple whose second child is 8 weeks old with a mum who is considering a return to work,

But if she goes back fulltime, paying for childcare for Bryn plus after-school care for Amelia, and allowing for extra petrol, the family will be hardly any better off than they are on one income.
"I need to work financially because my husband's income is $200 short of our expenses," Mrs Jones says.

But they surely knew this when they decided to have another baby?

 Mrs Jones would like to be able to stay home with her baby for at least his first year."I'd like it to be a choice," she says. "I'd much rather be able to spend at least the first year at home with the baby. It's not fair on them being shoved out the door just because we can't afford to feed them."

It's so depressing hearing this kind of complaint. They will already be in the enviable position of effectively paying no tax and yet somehow it's still "not fair" that more public money isn't provided to subsidize their choice.

Nothing frustrates me more than witnessing people who walk into situations knowingly then whine about the injustice of it all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rarely reported in MSM

Jarrod Gilbert calls for a "dispassionate" response to child deaths and provides background for his position:
Children are more likely to be murdered within three years of being born than at any other time during their life. Even more surprising, given the acute gender focus of domestic violence campaigns, women are equally as likely to kill as men and most often the culprit is the child's biological mother.
A Family Violence Death Review Committee reported that of the 37 child homicides resulting from abuse and neglect between 2009 and 2012, at least 41 per cent were killed by their mother. In very young children this figure increases. The other perpetrators - stepfathers, fathers, and female caregivers - lagged well behind.
Given that babies and toddlers are entirely dependent on adults for their survival; that they deprive people of sleep and create significant hardships; and that mothers are the most likely to live with their children, then perhaps these data aren't as surprising as they first appear.

Here's the data Gilbert  refers to:

None of this detracts from the particular danger that non-biological 'dads' pose. Those crimes may be the most preventable.

But for children, especially newborns, the risk from their birth mother is statistically higher. Suffice to say the risks of death are minuscule and volatile.

"Kai time" krap

The government is all over us with their surveys about this; surveys about that. They even want to know how often we eat together.

Kai time keeps Kiwis connected
How good are our family relationships? states that 59 percent of couples-without-children shared eight or more meals weekly. This compares with only around one-third of couples-with-children and sole-parent families. 
“This difference is perhaps a result of staggered meal times, but it’s interesting to see that people without children share more meals together than those with children,” Ms Ramsay says. 

The 'couple without children' will contain a large number of retirees. There are potentially 21 meals a week. Busy households with children and teenagers jostling over bathroom use in the morning won't be sitting down to eat together. And they won't be home at lunch time. Dinner? Very young children eating early, partners working late or doing shifts, teenagers in out-of school activities, etc.

Using 'eating together' as a proxy for relationship quality is troublesome in other ways too. I remember as a child all six of us ate together at six sharp. But we didn't talk. It was news time and woe betide anyone who talked over something Dad wanted to listen to.

Good time with my children is often in the car going into the city. Yes I ferry them in some mornings when their lessons/lectures coincide simply because we generally laugh a lot.

Anyway, what social policy will this revealing research 'inform' as they say?  A major multi-member-meal education campaign? Far-fetched maybe, but so would the very idea of the survey been once, especially using public money.