ONE IN THREE MAORI WOMEN ON WELFARE
Friday, November 28, 2008
Latest Ministry of Social Development figures show that one in three working-age Maori women receives a benefit.
According to welfare commentator, Lindsay Mitchell, "Maori females are now the most vulnerable group in New Zealand to benefit dependency. At the end of September 2008, 55, 255 - or 33 percent of Maori women aged 18-64 - relied on welfare as their prime (and usually only) source of income. This figure is more than three times higher than for the non-Maori population."
"New Zealand now has two working-age Maori women responsible for welfare policy, Paula Bennett and Tariana Turia, respectively the Minister and Associate Minister for Social Development. National's Paula Bennett is reported as supporting work-testing for single mothers when their youngest turns six. Unfortunately most Maori females begin on welfare very young, before acquiring any educational qualifications or work skills. They also tend to have larger families and it may be many years before they are faced with work-testing, at which point they face real barriers to employment. In any case, if unemployment continues to climb as forecast, there is a question mark over whether jobs will be available."
The problem of dependency stems from a large and steady inflow of young mothers and this is where the focus should lie. The Maori teenage birth rate is also much higher than the non-Maori rate.
"I don't believe anybody thinks babies being born onto a benefit is a good idea - except perhaps for the Associate Minister who is on record as saying,
I am intolerant of the excessive focus on controlling our fertility. When I used to sit around the Cabinet table with colleagues, one of the many hot topics I got into strife about was discussion around the 'problem' of teenage pregnancy. My objection was to the problemmatisation of conception.
So just what effective policies will the Ministers adopt to reduce this highly disproportionate rate of dependency?"
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