Social issues must be a greater priority for govt spending

ANZASW commends the government’s decision to increase funding to District Health Boards (DHBs) and schools across Aotearoa New Zealand.

While the spend on the above amounts to a minority of the total infrastructure expenditure announced yesterday, the investments will make a difference to professionals and users of schools, child, maternal and mental health services and rural services. This is very welcome.

However, the Association regrets that, at a time of great need for communities across the country, money has been prioritised for transport while neglecting to put further resources toward addressing the shortage of affordable homes and other urgent social issues.

ANZASW also notes with concern that this package increases the capacity of this country to emit greenhouse gases, despite the fact that the Prime Minister has highlighted her commitment to addressing climate change.

“While we’re of course aware that these big infrastructure investments are intended to produce jobs and enhance the economy, the country should be doing more on issues such as housing, child poverty and timely access to health services,” Lucy Sandford-Reed, ANZASW Chief Executive said.

The Association also regrets the missed opportunity to increase benefit rates to reduce the need for emergency grants, the numbers of which continue to climb, creating in debt in many instances. We believe that welfare should provide an income that meets basic needs including the costs of getting children back to school with necessary uniforms and equipment.

“With the surplus we have at the moment it’s time to also take further action to invest in young New Zealanders by giving them a better start in life and easing the pressures created by the cost of living for all demographics by building more homes,” Sandford-Reed added.

“Also, it’s imperative from our point of view that pay parity is delivered to social workers in all sectors so that those who are experiencing adversity can get the support they deserve- and social work professionals get fair pay for their significant contribution to the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities,’ she said.