Rural round-up

July 22, 2014

Lepto danger with flood waters:

RURAL WOMEN New Zealand  reminds Far North farming families to be mindful about health issues in dealing with flood waters, including the elevated risk of leptospirosis.

Families should be careful about drinking water, pull on their gumboots, wash hands and faces thoroughly, and cover cuts and grazes before they come into contact with flood water to reduce the chance of getting infections, in particular leptospirosis, Rural Women says.

The leptospirosis bacteria is shed in the urine from infected animals including stock, rodents, dogs, possums, and hedgehogs and is more easily spread about where there is excess surface water as the Far North is currently experiencing. . .

Free lunch for Northland farmers:

WHO SAYS there’s no such thing as a free lunch – or dinner, asks the Northland Rural Support Trust.

It is holding free lunch or dinners for flood-hit Northland starting tomorrow (Wednesday, July 23).

“We can’t stop it raining, but here’s a chance to have a dinner you don’t have to cook and an opportunity to talk to other storm affected folk plus pick the brains of some support people,” the Support Trust says to farmers.

Free food and drink is supplied at each event thanks to the trust and local merchants. . .

Stark difference between NZ and Australian dairying but why? – Pasture to Profit:

The visual & financial differences between the New Zealand & Australian dairy industries at the current time are stark and startling!

Why is the NZ dairy industry booming and Australian dairy farmers under so much pressure & having to dig deep to remain profitable. Both dairy industries supply into the same international market and Australia has a much bigger domestic population and local market. A strong local market is often argued as being a strength and likely to lift dairy farmers farm gate price. The economy in both countries is relatively strong & to a large extent was not greatly affected by the world financial crisis. Yet one dairy industry is hanging in by their fingernails while the other is buoyed (perhaps unrealistically!) by higher milk prices. . . .

AbacusBio finalist in sheep awards – Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based AbacusBio and its managing director Neville Jopson both feature among the finalists in this year’s Beef and Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards.

After being held in the South for the past two years, the awards have been shifted to Napier and will be held on August 6.

Dr Jopson is a finalist in one of two new categories – the sheep industry science award, which recognises a project, business or person undertaking science that is having a positive impact on farming. . .

Decision on effluent area reserved:

An Environment Southland hearing committee has reserved its decision on whether Southland meat processor South Pacific Meats (SPM) can spread effluent on to a larger area of farmland in northern Southland.

SPM, jointly owned by Affco New Zealand and Talleys Fisheries Ltd, opened a plant at Awarua, south of Invercargill, in 2005.

Last year, it gained consent from Environment Southland to spread sludge from the bottom of its wastewater treatment pond on to 55.5ha of a 1033ha sheep farm near Garston. . . .

Farms: the abuse of children –  A Farm Girl’s Fight:

Recently, I was reading some blogs and websites of organizations and individuals that oppose farmers. These websites have “facts” that are outrageous. Luckily, these facts have “sources” attached….that link back to their own website. Anyway, it’s humorous to me, and gives me ideas for my blogs. And let me tell you what. I am fired up.

There was a sentence on one of the websites (which no I will not link to their website) that stated:

“Farmers are awful people that often take advantage of underage children, often their own, forcing them into a life of work and learning of inhumane ways.”
Let me tell you something. With the exception of the “inhumane ways” addition, that statement is damn true and I am darn proud of it. . . .

 


Rural round-up

July 18, 2014

New rules tough for everyone – Andrea Fox:

The jury is in on pollution crime against New Zealand’s waterways and lakes and no one – farmer, business, suburbanite, or city apartment dweller – will escape the verdict’s impact.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014, released by the Government this month, is the latest decree on a matter considered to be of national significance.

Yes, farmers have been fencing off rivers and streams and managing effluent systems better for several years in the name of freshwater protection policy under the Resource Management Act. And they have made big improvements.

What is new is a change to that policy statement. It is going to be tough on farmers – but equally tough on urban NZ. . .

Top genetic selection produces biggest antlers – Heather Chalmers:

Producing deer with some of the biggest antlers in New Zealand takes careful genetic selection and a dollop of luck, says South Canterbury deer farmer Chris Petersen.

Just as others follow the breeding lines of thoroughbred racehorses, Petersen does the same for deer.

“I know all the top stags and hinds in New Zealand. I study them.”

Farming Highden Deer Park with his wife Debra at Sutherlands near Pleasant Point, his stags are highly regarded for their antlers, both for trophies and velvet. The 130 hectare rolling downlands farm carries 364 spikers and mixed-age stags, 122 mixed-age hinds and 55 18-month hinds, as well as this season’s progeny. Most stags are grown out to seven years old for the trophy market, with 27 out of 30 sold last year. . .

Stink over cattle compost - Shelly Robinson:

A North Canterbury business that composted cattle heads and ears for a gelatine factory was forced to stop taking the waste after complaints about the smell from neighbours.

T W Transport’s composting facility at Burnt Hill, Oxford, has been fined seven times by Environment Canterbury (ECan) for odour issues in breach of its resource consent.

Company director Ted Wills said it stopped taking the waste from Gelita NZ Ltd because of the complaints. “If there was a smell out our way, even among the farms spraying effluent on paddocks or silage, we still got the blame,” he said. . .

Fast, slow beef finishing assessed in Far North:

HAVING ALL animals on a farm growing at the same pace could result in big risks for drystock farmers, delegates at the final Finished in 20 Months beef seminar in Northland heard last month.

The three-year Beef + Lamb New Zealand project ran multiple studies to find techniques which would let farmers get beef cattle to finishing weights before their second winter, a key aim being to avoid having heavy animals on pugging prone clay soils when it gets wet.

But some in the trial have argued even 20 months is too long and target kill weights need to be hit at 15-16 months so they can be sold before Christmas and the subsequent slides in schedule prices. . .

Many markets for miscanthus:

FUEL, BEDDING, shelter, forage: super-tall perennial grass miscanthus could have markets as all of them, says Miscanthus New Zealand, a Te Awamutu-based company promoting the crop.

The grass is already fairly widely used in Europe and the United States as a bioenergy crop but was only introduced to New Zealand in 2010 with about 40ha now established in various crops and trials nationwide.

“It’s a triploid hybrid so it’s completely infertile,” says Miscanthus NZ managing director Peter Brown. . .

GFAR Partnering with EAT to create research network uniting agriculture and nutrition:

The Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) has entered into a strategic partnership with the EAT Stockholm Food Forum. GFAR provides a forum for experts and organizations around the world to share agricultural research and create positive change. EAT is an international network made up of experts on sustainable food, nutrition, and health. By teaming together, GFAR and EAT hope to lead an integrated approach to increasing the sustainability and nutritional value of food.

Dr. Gunhild Anker Stordalen, director of EAT, recently spoke about her organization and the reasons behind this new alliance. . .

Six key recommendations for ramily farming in North America:

In April, representatives from 35 organizations around the world gathered in Québec City to participate in the Dialogue on Family Farming in North America. Motivated by the United Nation’s designation of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), the dialogue included workshops, panel discussions, and question periods organized by UPA Développement International (UPA DI) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This week, a report was published summarizing the key presentations and findings from the event.

Canadian presenters spoke on a range of topics including the importance of women in small farming, and the challenges of farming profitably without formal training. . .


Share your story

July 15, 2014

Rural Women New Zealand is inviting people to get creative by writing short stories and taking photos and videos to showcase New Zealand farming life today.

“We are running the competition in conjunction with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to tell the stories behind the primary products we grow on our farms,” says Rural Women national president, Wendy McGowan.

MPI will use some of the photos, videos and stories to promote the New Zealand primary industry brand and our rural values.

“We encourage people to get their creative juices flowing to share the challenges and triumphs of farming and today’s sustainable business practices,” says Wendy McGowan.

“We hope to see entries that reflect our care of the land and our animals, and the skills and ingenuity of the people that make New Zealand’s primary industries so successful.

Rural Women NZ also hopes the competition will highlight the opportunities for great careers that are available in the sector.

The competition is being run as part of Rural Women NZ’s celebrations to mark the 2014 International Year of Family Farming.

“Stories are powerful, and we have some great farming stories to tell,” says Wendy McGowan.
There are five entry categories: Women and men at work on the farm; farm machinery and farm innovation; animals; children; rural communities. Entries close 1 November 2014 and the competition is open to everyone.

More details and an entry from can be found here.

 


Motherhood as career option

July 13, 2014

An interesting comment on Lindsay Mitchell’s column on the greatest risk: from Rosy Fenwicke:

. . . One piece missed from the analysis is the cultural movement which embraced the idealisation of ‘motherhood’ as a career option regardless of the financial means to support this ‘career’ choice. Prior to the ‘liberation’ of women in the 1970s or rather the ‘liberation of entitlement’, motherhood was always associated with how it was to be financially supported in the long term- hence marriage and the partnership with men.

The whole women’s movement, with its middle and upper income roots, did no service to women with little education/income or their children. Likewise the liberation of women, liberated men from their connection with parenting and their responsibilities towards their offspring.

I do think the liberation of women is a good thing but it is only now that the younger generation is getting it right and pairing it with the need to assume the responsibilities which go with it- earning your own living!

My generation may well have been the last to have been brought up with the expectation that we would marry and have children, in that order; that we would probably give up our careers, or at least put them on hold while our children were young; and that our husbands would provide for our families.

That was before the DPB which enabled women to escape abusive relationships, but also enabled them to replace their children’s fathers with the state.

I wouldn’t want to return to the days that women and their children were beholden to their husbands for everything and trapped in dreadful situations because they were financially dependent on bad men.

But I applaud government initiatives which are working with women on the DPB to help them help themselves and escape the poverty trap in which welfare can snare them.


Most deep-seated deprivation occurs in beneficiary families

July 10, 2014

Quote of the day:

Employment for existing sole parents, and deterrence for prospective, particularly young parents, is the most effective approach to reducing child poverty. Lindsay Mitchell

This is a very small part of a post which deserves to be read in full.

It shows that being in a benefit-dependent family is the greatest predictor of child poverty.

That isn’t an argument for more generous benefits.

It’s an argument in favour of current government policies which aim to help people from welfare to work, for their own sake and the sake of their children.

 

Great work by Paula Bennett MP and all the social sector team.

The post is an opinion piece in this week’s Listener which also published two letters:

Your support of Professor Jonathan Boston’s definition of child poverty in New Zealand (Editorial, July 5) simply perpetuates the debate over how much money to throw at the problem. But money is just a glib answer to so many of society’s ills and, in this case, skirts around the elephant that’s filling the room.

A child without access to a flat-screen TV and missing out on birthday parties might constitute deprivation from an academic perspective, but the most pervasive manifestation of poverty, and the most distressing to witness, is that of three- and four-year-olds who have never known or been shown love and affection from their parents; children who are emotional vacuums.

Boston argues that children from poor homes are less likely to succeed educationally. He’s just missed that elephant. Although emotionally deprived children are almost exclusively from low-income households, a household having a low income is not the cause of such child neglect. In fact, if a child from a low-income home is loved and emotionally secure, the scholastic disparity with children from more affluent backgrounds is almost non-existent.

Any early childhood teacher will testify that before a child can start to learn, he or she must be emotionally engaged. Teaching and engaging a child from an emotionally deprived background is almost impossible and certainly beyond the resources of most early-childhood educational centres. And without early intervention, these emotionally deprived children will later help to fill our mental and correctional facilities.

Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes to the problems of bad parents – parents who probably shouldn’t be parents – and social agencies that are poorly resourced and pursue the least challenging options. Nonetheless, a good start would be recognition and debate on New Zealand’s real child poverty issue: the love-starved little ones.

Roger Clarke
(Te Awamutu)

Poverty isn’t just financial it’s emotional too.

The second letter builds on this point

Your editorial appears very “ambulance at the foot of the cliff” stuff.

Everyone would agree it is not in society’s best interests to have malnourished children suffering various degrees of brain damage as a result of poor nutrition. Although there will be exceptions to this generalisation, it is reasonable to assume that a high percentage of parents of such children are just incompetent in a variety of ways – quite possibly as a result of ignorance and deprived upbringings of their own.

The priority needs to be to identify the poor carers and the common causes of their inabilities to cope. Then introduce policies that direct resources at those people while forcing them to address their shortcomings.

The majority of carers on low incomes are managing to bring up children who are adequately loved, fed, clothed and housed. For the deprived children, the issue in a great many cases is more that of carer competency than available cash. More money is not necessarily going to solve anything in such situations if the underlying competency issues are not addressed.

Denis Muir
(RD2, Kaiwaka)

This is why National’s policy is to work with teen parents to educate them and help them help themselves and their children.

Lack of money can be part of the problem but lack of knowledge, skills and love are often contributing factors to child poverty too.

That can happen in families at any income level.


Must not ignore nor accept family violence

July 3, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced a suite of measures aimed at addressing family violence.

“Quite simply, the rate of family violence in New Zealand is unacceptable,” says Mr Key.

While crime is at a 35-year low, violent crime is decreasing at a much slower rate.

“Almost 50 per cent of all homicides in New Zealand are a result of family violence. That is, on average, 14 women, seven men, and eight children killed by a member of their family every year.”

Mr Key says together with the Government’s focus on vulnerable children, this work will help New Zealand families live without violence and fear.

“Firstly, Tariana Turia has released the Government’s response to the Expert Advisory Group’s report on Family Violence. Of the 22 recommendations in the report, 19 have been accepted in whole or part by the Government, and I thank the Advisory Group members for their work.

“Mrs Turia is building on the work of the Expert Advisory Group to develop a comprehensive, long-term approach to break the cycle of family violence. This work focuses on changing attitudes and behaviours towards family violence, and on early interventions for drug and alcohol addiction.

“Today I am also announcing further measures to address family violence through Justice, Police and Corrections, which will build on the foundation we have laid in place.”

These include:

  • The establishment of a Chief Victims’ Advisor to the Minister of Justice
  • The trial of an intensive case management service for family violence victims at risk of serious harm or death
  • The trial of mobile safety alarms with GPS technology, so victims can alert police to their location in an emergency
  • Introduction of legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed on them.

“I would like to thank Ministers Judith Collins, Anne Tolley and Tariana Turia for leading the work to foster a long-term change in behaviour, and to protect people from the misery of violence in the home,” says Mr Key.

“This Government has already undertaken a range of work to protect the most vulnerable New Zealanders.

“A great example of this is the recent passing of the Vulnerable Children’s Bill, which ensures that New Zealand’s most at-risk children get priority,” says Mr Key.

The new law provides 10 new Children’s Teams to wrap services around at-risk children early to keep them safe from harm, introduces new vetting and screening checks for government and community agency staff working with children, and puts the onus on parents who have killed, severely abused or neglected a child to prove they are safe to parent subsequent children.

“We have also increased the penalty for breaching protection orders and improved non-violence programmes for offenders,” says Mr Key

“However, it is important to remember that while governments can make laws, it is up to us as individual New Zealanders to change our attitudes to family violence.

“It is time we learned we must not ignore it, nor should we accept it,” says Mr Key.

 

New Zealand families should not have to live with violence and fear. We’re taking practical steps to address this. https://www.national.org.nz/news/features/protecting-families

Groups working with vulnerable children are supportive of the initiative:

The Red Raincoat Trust says the Chief Victims Advisor will give victims a voice:

The Red Raincoat Trust is delighted to hear of Justice Minister, Judith Collin’s plans to appoint a Chief Victims Advisor. “We are rapt; victims will now have an official voice within the criminal justice process. A Chief Victims Advisor will be able to engage directly with the victims enabling them to understand how the criminal justice process works for them. Until now, this hasn’t happened which often left victims vulnerable and re-victimised” says Debbie Marlow, spokesperson for the Red Raincoat Trust.

Ministers Judith Collins and Anne Tolley announced the Chief Victims Advisor today as part of a package which is hoped will help prevent family violence. Other initiatives announced today include an intensive case management service to provide specialist support for domestic violence victims at high risk of serious harm or death and a multi-agency response system for domestic violence.

“The package announced today will help ensure our families and communities are kept safe and it shows us that this government is committed to ensuring that our victim’s voices are heard and agencies are responding to their needs. Well done!”.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust is also supportive:

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has congratulated the Justice Minister, Judith Collins on today’s announcement regarding the establishment of the Chief Victims Advisor.

“Finally victims of crime will be afforded the true advocacy and support that they are entitled to” says Ruth Money Sensible Sentencing Trust.

We have been actively promoting the concept of victim advocacy for years now and this proposed position will go a long way to balancing victims’ rights within the system and ensuring that the Ministry of Justice stays informed regarding the needs of victims” says Money. . . .

“These moves and proactive measures from Minister Collins and the Government must be applauded. For too long the system has seen the rights of the offender or alleged offender come well before those of the victim and public safety, today we see some balance being proposed”

The Family Violence Death Review Committee (FVDRC) welcomes announcements about the trial of an intensive case management service for family violence victims.

The FVDRC is an independent committee that advises the Health Quality & Safety Commission on how to reduce the number of family violence deaths and prevent family violence. Last week it released a report analysing data collected on all family violence homicides that took place over a four-year period. The Committee urged organisations to take more responsibility for preventing abusers from using violence, rather than expecting the victims of family violence to take action to keep themselves and their children safe.

The Chair of the FVDRC, Associate Professor of Law Julia Tolmie, says the Committee’s previous report recommended the development of a nationally consistent high-risk case management process and it is pleasing to see this is being trialled.

“The sheer volume of police call outs for family violence often means the most dangerous cases of family violence do not get the attention they need within the systems we currently have,” she says.

“The aim of an intensive case management service is to bring the key agencies together to share information, as well as to develop, implement and monitor a multi-agency safety plan.”

Julia Tolmie says high-risk case management teams overseas have been highly successful in preventing deaths from family violence. . .

The FVDRC also supports the trial of mobile safety alarms with GPS technology, so victims can alert police to their location in an emergency and the introduction of legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed on them.

The measures announce deal with reported crime.

Not all abuse and neglect is reported and some isn’t reported until it’s too late.

It is equally important to address the causes of abuse and neglect to prevent them.

The seriousness of the problem is shown by For the Sake of our Children Trust in a 24-year snapshot of 58 deaths of children as a result of neglect or abuse.

It points to clear risk factors:

. . . Based on the 58 known cases listed, 51 cases identified child’s biological parents were NOT married. The perpetrator responsible for the death indicated 27 of the deaths tabulated had a ‘stepfather’ or ‘boyfriend/partner of the mother being responsible or part responsible for the child’s death. The remaining figures for the perpetrator was indicated the mother or relative of the child or unknown.  . . .

Apropos of this, Lindsay Mitchell notes this is a fair assumption given that around 87 percent of children who have contact with CYF appear in the benefit system very early in their lives.

The benefit system has a place as a safety net, but it can also be a trap which increases the chances of poorer outcomes for children, including increasing the risk of abuse and neglect.

Moving families from welfare to work has obvious financial benefits for them and the country.

The social benefits are equally important. they include better educational and health outcomes and a lower risk of neglect and abuse.


Helping vulnerable children

June 20, 2014

There is no excuse for giving children nothing but the love and care they need.

That doesn’t stop some people neglecting or abusing them which is why there’s a need for the Vulnerable Children Bill which was passed into law yesterday.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett explains:

. . . This Bill is a critical step in giving effect to changes in the Children’s Action Plan.

These include ensuring joint accountability across Justice, Health, Education, Police and Social Development, for the wellbeing of vulnerable children.

They also include the new requirements for the screening and vetting of Government workers and contractors who work with children.

All up these new requirements will cover around 182,000 New Zealanders.

There are also new workforce restrictions to prevent those with serious convictions, who pose a danger to children, from coming into contact with them.

The legislation will also switch the onus on parents who have killed, or severely abused or neglected a child, and they will now have to prove they are safe to parent subsequent children.

But let me be very clear, the legislation contained in this Bill is a small part of work already underway.

We can pass laws to improve screening and vetting.

We can pass laws that place restrictions on dangerous people where there currently are none.

But we cannot pass laws that stop children being beaten, neglected, or sexually and emotionally abused.

We cannot pass laws that stop children being killed, by those who should love and protect them.

We cannot expect that throwing more money at this problem – without changing how we work – will actually fix anything.

Accepting that this is as good as it gets will not cut it.

This is where the Children’s Action Plan, of which the Vulnerable Children Bill is just one part, will make a difference.

It is multi-dimensional, cross agency and community driven.

It has more than 30 interwoven initiatives and it will:

• bring the right people together in communities around our vulnerable kids.

• give us a whole lot more options to respond to the different needs of children.

Firstly, we want to support vulnerable children and work alongside their families to keep them safe so that they never reach the point where they need the involvement of Child, Youth and Family.

That’s where our new Children’s Teams come in, along with the Hub and the Vulnerable Kids Information System, or ViKI.

Children’s Teams bring together frontline professionals from health, education, welfare and other agencies to wrap services around children and their families.

They work with children and young people who are vulnerable, but are best helped outside Child, Youth and Family’s statutory service.

As well as doctors, teachers and social workers there is Plunket, Family Start, Whanau Ora, parenting services, and budgeting services to name a few.

But too often vulnerable children are at the back of the queue for these services.

They have parents or caregivers who don’t know enough, or simply don’t care enough, to prioritise and advocate for their needs.

These children need to be at the front and centre of the queue,

What I have had to consider is whether these vulnerable children should get to jump the queue, and get in front of other children whose needs may be as pressing, but who have parents or caregivers fighting in their corner.

I am unapologetic in saying that yes they should, because it is they who are most at risk.

Children’s Teams will understand the unique needs of each child they deal with, and pull together a team who can make the most difference to get alongside the child and family.

They will be able to fast track access to services, and carve a clear path for vulnerable children to the support they need.

Our two pilot teams in Rotorua and Whangarei have worked with over 110 children so far and we are hearing about:

• better attendance at health appointments

• better parenting

• re-enrolments at early childhood and school

• better access to welfare support

• happier children

• better behaviour

• and reduced offending.

There’s been a lot of learning, and some hurdles along the way, but it’s clear that the mix of services and the early support is making a difference to children’s lives.

And by the middle of next year we will have eight new Children’s Teams in action.

Alongside this we’re developing a Vulnerable Kids Information System where frontline professionals like doctors and teachers can go online to register concerns about a child.

ViKI will help us join those dots into a picture about what is going on for a child.

We’re also setting up a Hub where people can report their concerns about a child quickly and easily, or get help and advice.

Depending on what’s happening for each child, the Hub will triage them to the level of support they need.

The initiatives contained in the Children’s Action Plan are all connected to each other and firmly place vulnerable children at the front and centre.

These are the children who have no one to speak up for them.

If they are not the core work and priority for police, paediatricians, social workers and community workers, then who is?

I would like to thank the Social Services Committee and all the New Zealanders that made submissions for their valuable contribution to this bill.

This legislation goes beyond this House, and beyond politics.

It goes into the home of every New Zealander whether they have children or not, because the wellbeing of our vulnerable is the measure of the heart of this country.

As proud as I am of the opportunities and support available for most of us, there are too many left out and too many let down.

As I said, there are 23,000 cases of substantiated abuse each year.

There are eight children killed by the people who should hold them, love them, and care for them.

As Minister, I expect the results of our work with vulnerable children to be that by which I am judged, and I am investing everything I have into this.

It is crucial we get it right – not in a few years, or ‘in the future,’ but now.

This legislation is a crucial step underpinning a much wider piece of work that will fundamentally change the way we work with vulnerable children and their families in New Zealand.

It will make a difference.

The law can’t be in every home, nor should it be.

But it does need to be able to act to protect children who are let down by their families.

 

Children need our protection. National is doing everything possible to keep them safe.</p><br /><br />
<p>Learn more: <a href=http://ntnl.org.nz/1uEHaLf&#8221; width=”444″ height=”332″ />

You’d think this would be something that would get cross-party support, but it didn’t:

The Vulnerable Children Bill passed its final stage by 105 – 10 votes in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon after only the Green Party and Mana Party’s Hone Harawira voted against it. . .

Green Party MP Jan Logie said Ms Bennett had failed to deal to the main problem of child poverty. . .

Poverty is a problem but it is not an excuse for the neglect and abuse of children.

The Minister said, the Bill is just one part of a much bigger programme – the relevant piece from the extract above explains:

. . . But let me be very clear, the legislation contained in this Bill is a small part of work already underway.

We can pass laws to improve screening and vetting.

We can pass laws that place restrictions on dangerous people where there currently are none.

But we cannot pass laws that stop children being beaten, neglected, or sexually and emotionally abused.

We cannot pass laws that stop children being killed, by those who should love and protect them.

We cannot expect that throwing more money at this problem – without changing how we work – will actually fix anything.

Accepting that this is as good as it gets will not cut it.

This is where the Children’s Action Plan, of which the Vulnerable Children Bill is just one part, will make a difference.

It is multi-dimensional, cross agency and community driven. . .

The Green Party and Harawira put their blinkers on and voted against a Bill which isn’t pretending to give all the answers but will address part of the problem.

Shame on them.


Which men are violent to children?

June 18, 2014

The Parenting Place asks: which men are violent to children?

The news report of a 32 year old man arrested in relation to the death of an infant will not be the only incident of its type that you hear of this year – men assaulting children happens far too often. It’s tragic in many, many ways and one of the sad consequences of it is that stories like this tend to obscure a very important fact: men are good with children and good for children.

Not all men, obviously.

But not most men either, just as not all women are good with children and some are abusive.

Research shows which men are statistically likely to be safer and which are more likely to be a risk. By the way, it does not mean that a man with ‘risk factors’ will actually be violent to children, it is just the way the probability tilts.

A big factor: if a man is violent to women he is far more likely to be violent to children[1]. Even if he doesn’t physically harm the children, just witnessing the violence against their mother can create many of the same long term psychological consequences as actual physical abuse[2]. Sadly, one of those long term consequences is that those children, in turn, are likely to grow to be violent abusers themselves[3] in later life. It certainly is not their fault, but if you are looking for risk factors, a man who grew up in a violent, abusive home is more of a risk.

A third risk factor is the type of relationship the man has with the mother of the children. A child with married biological parents has less than a tenth the risk of abuse as child with a single mother with a boyfriend[4]. A 2005 study published in Pediatrics found that “[c]hildren residing in households with unrelated adults were nearly 50 times as likely to die of inflicted injuries than children residing with 2 biological parents.”[5] Why? It seems marriage makes good men better. A man willing to enter into a committed long term relationship with the mother and the child is willing to ‘settle down’, learn the skills and be attentive to children.

This doesn’t mean violence doesn’t happen within marriages, but the chances of it happening are reduced in committed long-term relationships.

I want to wade a little bit beyond the evidence and research and get into the deep water of conjecture and opinion – what is going to be our response to the idea that there are damaged, dangerous men in our world? “Mums: guard your hearts and homes! Don’t let them in and turn them out if they get in!” is too harsh, not just on men but on women as well. Just as these men are largely the products of circumstances they did not choose, so are the women who will be vulnerable to them. Their tragically low self-esteem stops them from seeing what might be obvious. For our little families to survive, our society needs to be a big family – look out for each other. Warn, protect, support.

Normal is different for different people and families.

For me it was parents who loved each other and their children. I was surrounded by adults who modelled good behaviour, set boundaries and enforced consequences when they were breached.

That taught me not just what was acceptable to and expected of me, but also what I could expect and accept from others.

Sadly this isn’t normal for those who suffer from violence and nor for many who inflict it on others.

That doesn’t excuse the behaviour but it helps to explain it and points to one of the ways of breaking the cycle – teaching people the importance of committed and relationships in loving homes where unrestrained anger and violence are neither normal nor acceptable.

That’s one prescription but it won’t be easy to administer.

 

 

 


The People’s Report

June 17, 2014

The People’s Report – the result of the inquiry into violence funded by Owen Glenn – which was released yesterday claims a “dysfunctional” court system, “broken” social services and a binge-drinking culture form major barriers to protecting children and stopping family violence.

Its’ recommendations include:

  • Fragmented services brought to a single point of access;
  • A code of rights and an independent forum where victims and survivors can be heard and air their grievances;
  • Recognition child abuse and domestic violence happens in all parts of society and is often considered normal;
  • Address poverty and social differences and require agencies to collaborate;
  • Recognise professionals, frontline workers and legal professionals need better training.
There might be merit in the first two and the third is true – contrary to popular belief domestic violence and child abuse aren’t restricted to the poor and uneducated.
That spoils the imperative for the fourth point – addressing poverty and social differences.
There are very good reasons for addressing the causes of poverty but if domestic violence happens in all parts of society relieving poverty won’t solve the problem.
Another recommendation is to remove the presumption of innocence so the burden of proof falls on the alleged perpetrator.
That is a perversion of one of the tenets on which our justice system is built – that the accused is innocent until proven guilty.
Another contributing factor mentioned is binge drinking.
There are lots of good reasons for tackling that too – but does alcohol fuel violence or do violent people drink more?
I’ve seen lots of drunks who aren’t violent people sober and none have become violent when drunk.
Domestic violence and child abuse are dark stains on our society.
The causes are complex and solutions must be based on more than anecdotes.

The full report is here.


Standing up for children

June 1, 2014

Tweet of the day:


Budget works for women

May 23, 2014

A few decades ago James K. Baxter wrote about National Mum and Labour Dad.

Things went downhill after that and until recently national has found it harder to win women’s support.

The good news is that has been changing and the Budget has helped to woo women:

The Key Govt, which is fighting to keep its support base around the 46% mark, got an unexpected bonus from the budget last week, with what could be a decisive shift in support from women voters. Trans-Tasman understands private polling showed women reacted positively to the measures announced in the budget for free GP visits and free prescriptions for children under 13, improvements to paid parental leave, a lift in the parental tax credit from $150 a week to $220 a week, and the move to make early childhood centres more accessible and affordable. In reporting their feedback from the budget National backbenchers also noted the intense response from women to measures which were seen to be directing some of the fruits of economic success to where support is most needed. Traditionally National’s support base has been weakest among women voters, especially in the 20-to-40 age group, and in this election it may be more vital than previously to ensure it maximises its vote in this segment.

It was a family-friendly Budget.
Maggie Barry MP's photo.

But it wasn’t just family-friendly, it was also business-friendly.

There has also been a positive reaction from the business sector whose priority is for the Govt to deliver on the basics and ensure the economy is moving in the right direction. This is particularly important where business is moving through the phase of investing in new plant and machinery. The interesting new feature in budgetary responses is coming from iwi leaders who seek dialogue with the Govt, as they plan developments in the wake of major Treaty settlements.

That last point is a welcome sign of what happens when iwi move from grievance to growth.


Most fundamentally important task

May 18, 2014

Photo: We’ve committed an extra $500m in the Budget to support children and families. http://ntnl.org.nz/1sCYDoh

No-one should contradict the first half of this sentence – parenting is the most fundamentally important task in society.

That they need support should be beyond debate too.

However, the nature of that support and who gives it and how much is given is debatable.

Parent with babies and young children used to be able to rely on getting practical and moral support from  extended family, friends and neighbours.

Then the state got involved through family benefit.

A generation ago all mothers received the FB for each child from birth until the end of the year the child turned 18.

It wasn’t a lot, about $5 a week from memory, though to put that in perspective the rent on my first flat, in 1976, was $7 and the next year rent was only $4.75.

The FB was dropped by Ruth Richardson on the grounds that it was ridiculous for someone like her to get the money when she and her family didn’t need it while other families needed more.

Various forms of more targeted help for families have been introduced since then.

One of those is Paid Parental Leave – targeted not on need, but whether or not the mother was in paid work for the required length of time before the baby was born.

That means wealthy families in which the mother has been working get help for jam while poorer families in which the mother wasn’t working might not have enough for bread.

The importance of time together for mothers and babies to bond is beyond debate.

In the past that meant most women stopped working for some time and the family lost income as a result.

It’s now the norm in most western countries to pay some form of PPL to give some financial support to women who stop work to care for their babies.

But it still leaves the question of whether there should be help for families in which the mother wasn’t in paid work, if not universally at least for those on lower incomes.

There is of course another question – whether or not it’s the taxpayers’ role to provide financial support for any new parents and the wealthier ones in particular.

But once a benefit like PPL, it’s politically difficult to cut it.

I’m still left with another question, though – would the practical and moral support parents used to get from extended family, friends and neighbours be at least as valuable for many as the financial help from the state?

Regardless of your financial position, it’s very difficult doing the most fundamentally important task of parenting in isolation.


Three things my Mum taught me

May 11, 2014

Photo: Thinking of my mum today.


Happy Mothers’ Day

May 11, 2014

mothers' day


Another birthday

April 22, 2014

Our family should have been celebrating another birthday today – that of our first son, Tom.

But he had a brain disorder and lived only 20 weeks.

In spite of all the tests which were carried out while he was alive and a post mortem, no cause was found for his problems and we were told it was safe to have another baby.

We did and just over two years after Tom’s birth we welcomed Dan’s arrival.

Our joy was short-lived. When he was just two weeks old Dan started having fits, which was the first sign we’d had that Tom had problems. It took a few weeks of tests while we waited and hoped. But eventually we had to accept that Dan had the same condition which had killed his brother.

He lived longer, dying 10 days after his fifth birthday, although he passed none of the developmental milestones and could do no more the day he died than the one he was born.

The year after Dan’s death we hosted an AFS scholar from Argentina.

There’s a huge element of luck in these relationships and we struck the jackpot – a lovely teenager whose family became ours.

I can’t answer the question of whether it would have been better to have healthy children ourselves or to have our exchangee and his family in our lives.

Of course I’d rather our sons were alive, happy and healthy but I wouldn’t want to shut the doors that have opened because those ones closed.

All I can say is that few people go through life untouched by sad times but it is possible to get over them and life happy lives again, not just in spite of them but sometimes because of them.

We’ve you’ve been in the dark valleys, the light and warmth on the mountain tops is even better.


To see ourselves . . .

April 20, 2014

A modern parenting tip from a Facebook friend and father of a two-year-old:

Modern Parenting Tip: video your kid having a tantrum on your phone then play it back to them immediately. They are always distracted by videos of themselves. 100% success rate so far.

 Would it work for kids of all ages?

As Burns said -

. . . O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us! 


World’s toughest job

April 18, 2014

Who would want a job like this?

Here’s a pretty cool project from Mullen for a client we won’t immediately reveal, lest we spoil the surprise. (Scroll down to the bottom of credits, or watch the video to find out.)

The Boston agency posted this job listing online for a “director of operations” position at a company called Rehtom Inc. The requirements sounded nothing short of brutal:

• Standing up almost all the time
• Constantly exerting yourself
• Working from 135 to unlimited hours per week
• Degrees in medicine, finance and culinary arts necessary
• No vacations
• The work load goes up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and other holidays
• No time to sleep
• Salary = $0

The job ad got 2.7 million impressions from paid ad placements. Only 24 people inquired. They interviewed via webcam, and their real-time reactions were captured on video.

Check out what happened below. It’s worth watching to the end.  


Welfare reform that works

April 15, 2014

Robert Doar writes on welfare reform that works and he does it from the inside:

. . . From early 2007 until the end of 2013, I was the commissioner of the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA), the agency with the 1960s-era name that occupies 180 Water Street. And before 2007, going back to early 1996, I worked at, and for a time led, the state agency that was responsible for overseeing many of the government-assistance programs administered by the city. But while my perspective is that of an insider, the facts speak for themselves: From 1995 until the end of 2013, New York City’s cash-welfare caseload shrunk from almost 1.1 million recipients to less than 347,000 — a drop of more than 700,000 men, women, and children.

The achievements of welfare reform in New York City were about more than reducing the number of people on cash welfare. There were also big increases in work rates for single mothers (up from 43 percent in 1994 to 63 percent in 2009) and large reductions in child poverty (down from 42 percent in 1994 to 28.3 percent in 2008). Even in the wake of the 2008 recession, child poverty in New York City in 2011 was almost ten percentage points lower than it had been the year before welfare reforms started.

Welfare-caseload declines, work-rate increases, and child-poverty declines all happened largely because, for eight years under Mayor Giuliani and twelve years under Mayor Bloomberg, New York City required welfare applicants and recipients to work, or look for work, in return for benefits. We aggressively detected and prevented fraud and waste (although we didn’t stop all of them); and we enforced these requirements with a vigilance that every day led to hundreds of case closings and welfare-grant reductions as we made clear that welfare came with responsibilities. . .

He gives 10 tips on welfare reform which includes:

Always promote personal responsibility. The minute an applicant believes that government will solve all of her problems, she loses. Accepting responsibility for one’s own future is the vital first step to moving up. . .

Employment is far better than training and education. In the years leading up to the passage of the federal welfare-reform legislation, study after study showed that programs that encouraged training and education over rapid employment proved less successful at getting people into jobs that lasted.  . .

The priority should be work first, then education or on-the-job training as a supplement.

Making work pay is welfare reform too. Being off of cash welfare does not mean a person is off of all assistance. Not only are a lot of former cash-welfare recipients still dependent on some form of assistance, but the increasing use of these programs means that total spending has not been reduced as a result of federal welfare reform. It has actually increased.

Food-stamp benefits, child-care vouchers, and public health insurance all were part of this arsenal of non-cash “work supports” that we promoted in New York. And so long as these forms of government assistance went to working people, the public was supportive. . .

Be honest about the importance of married two-parent families. Very few families with married and involved parents, both working, ever need any form of welfare. This is why I came to believe that it was dishonest for us not to talk about the importance of parents’ marriage in reducing the poverty of children. Children need stable, two-parent families. No government or public program can replace a missing parent. It was the recognition of government’s inadequate response to the problem — and my desire to be honest about it — that led us to put together the city’s public-messaging campaign about the consequences of teen pregnancy.. . . 

Caseworkers don’t cost much; benefits do. I understand the temptation to rail against bureaucrats and bureaucracy, but in welfare the money is spent mostly on benefits to clients, not the administrative costs of the agency. Welfare-administration costs are typically less than 5 percent of a program’s total costs. . .

Welfare recipients (and workers too) will try to “get over.” “To get over” is a very New York expression meaning to steal – usually from government and usually to obtain benefits that one isn’t entitled to. There’s no better opportunity for it than welfare programs. Turning a blind eye to the potential for fraud and abuse is naïve.. .

The vast majority of expenditures in welfare programs are consistent with program rules and not fraudulent. But the overall size of the spending is so great that even a 5 percent error rate is significant. And, more important, taxpayers have a right to expect that spending on programs be managed properly. . . .

When it comes to the disabled, trust but verify. Obviously a work-based welfare program can’t be successful if someone is too sick or disabled to work. But accepting disability claims at face value isn’t the right answer either. That’s why we set up a whole separate (and, yes, bureaucratic) process for welfare applicants who claimed they could not work because of some physical or mental condition. . .

Over the years, we found thousands of people who said they could not work but in fact could. We helped an equal number improve their underlying conditions so that they could go to work. And we helped those who really did qualify for the federal program gather the documentation necessary to apply.Always cheer for the economy. I spent seven years running New York City’s welfare programs for Michael Bloomberg, and as proud as I was of what our social-service programs provided to poor New Yorkers, I never forgot that perhaps the most important key to helping struggling families was a vibrant economy that offered an abundance of entry-level jobs. That’s why I was always first in line to support and encourage every kind of thoughtful economic-development idea that promised job creation.   . .

To make welfare programs succeed, always cheer for the economy, and those who nurture it. . .

All of these factors apply just as much in New Zealand as New York.

Welfare reforms that work are better for the people who move from welfare to work, or who get the right help because they can’t work.

The benefits aren’t just economic they’re social too with improvements in positive statistics like health and decreases in negative ones like crime.

Welfare reforms that work pay-off for us all.

Hat Tip AEIdeas


Successful succession

April 15, 2014

A recent Baker and Associates’ weekly AgLetter* included Rob McCreary’s thoughts on succession planning, given at the Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year Field Day.

1. Rob’s farther was an academic. The greatest thing his father passed on to Rob was no expectation of succession!

2. You have to define what you mean by succession vs inheritance. In Rob’s view, succession is about investing in the energy, youth and enthusiasm of the next generation. It’s also about handing on your experience and being a mentor to the next generation. Inheritance is simply getting what’s left at the end.

3. It’s important to pass on some debt, as well as assets.

4. Make sure the kids have a business or a part of a business that they can stamp their mark on.

5. Because children work in their family businesses, there is an automatic expectation of succession. In older businesses, this expectation is probably a lot stronger, and therefore needs a lot more management.

6. If it’s important to treat all children equally, their net equity will only be equal for one day. After that day, their own business skills and external forces will change what that equity becomes. This is a fact of life. There should be no come‐back.

7. For a successful succession plan, your business needs to grow. Concentrate on improving the things that increase income. Don’t over‐capitalise. Buy more land. Spread your business.

8. Carry out your succession plan as early as you can. This gives your kids more opportunity to do something with their own equity.

9. All the young people I’ve come to know who have been given this type of help have driven their business further and better than the last generation.

 Succession is a generally complex which will be different for every business.

One measure of successful succession is that all parties are still talking to each other when it’s done.

If one or more offspring wish to farm and others don’t, it’s easier if there’s some off-farm investments for the latter. Not all farms generate enough income to enable this and many prefer to put any profit back into the farm.

Some people think it has to be equal to be fair, others are sure that fair isn’t always equal and equal isn’t always fair.

Regardless of which side you take on this, point 6 is right. Even if all are treated equally their net equity will only be equal ont he day they get it. After that it’s up to them.

* You can see more about the AgLetter and how to subscribe here.

The AgLetter is a weekly publication, which provides timely management and marketing information to sheep, beef and deer farmers throughout the country. Established in 1986, the AgLetter has become a valuable source of information and humour for a large number of subscribers stretching from south Auckland to Southland.

Each week, the AgLetter provides an overview of:

  • Topical management advice
  • Industry Issues
  • Store market prices
  • Export schedule price
  • Market analysis

Detailed prices on export schedules and store sales are provided.

In addition, special topics are covered each week that may range from stock trading profitability analysis, fertiliser price and product reviews, industry developments such as carbon trading, new financial instruments or drench resistance. . .

It’s well written, easy to read and informative.


Two’s more than 1 + 1

April 9, 2014

The ODT has an opinion piece headlined half of two less than one when it comes to families.

There is a devastating demoralising disease sweeping the world at a drastic rate, and children in our generation have a 42% chance of being infected with it.

This disease will affect almost every aspect of a child’s life.

There is no cure, no treatment available, but there is a preventive.

The question is, will you try to stop it?

This disease will give a child a 48% higher possibility of smoking.

One in four children that get the disease will drop out of high school.

Out of the three in four kids who stay in school, 40% of them will not graduate by the age of 20.

If a child is seriously affected, they will fall behind their classmates in math and social skills, and are at immense risk to suffer from anxiety, stress and low self-esteem, which can lead to depression and suicide.

And what is this disease?

In today’s world, when a husband and wife are no longer happy with their relationship, there is an easy way out.

Divorce – the legal separation of man and wife, by judgement of a court, therefore totally dissolving the marriage relation.

You are happy, your ex is happy. Simple solution right?Wrong!Has anyone spared a thought for the children? . . .

Keep reading and see who wrote this.

Only one of my friends had divorced parents when I was a child.

It used to be shameful and people stayed together even when there were very good grounds for separating including that it was dangerous for at least one of the partners and/or the children.

It would be wrong to go back to that.

But is there a way to prepared people better before marriage and  help families, without serious problems, before differences become irreconcilable?

A friend once said, in jest, that she’d never contemplated divorce but murder had crossed her mind a couple of times.

She is of the generation where you work through hard times and know that two parents together are usually better for children than one here and one there.

Every relationship has its difficulties, but Nietzsche’s observation that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger can apply to marriage too.


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