Break in the inter-generational cycle of social dysfunction

13/09/2014

Lindsay Mitchell blogs on one of National’s significant achievements – breaking the inter-generation cycle of social dysfunction:

. . . I asked MSD how many sole parents were on any benefit in 2008, 2011 and 2014 (June quarter).
Knowing they would provide working age numbers (18-64) I also asked for sole parents aged 16-17.

The results are graphed below. 18-64 year-olds follow an expected pattern – up during the recession. Though it should be noted that today the numbers are lower than after the economic boom period up to 2008.

Most interestingly though, the 16-17 year-old numbers have just plummeted. Across all ethnicities! Exactly what National wanted to achieve. And it’s not a the result of more 16-17 young parents being denied assistance. The teenage birth rate is also tracking down quite significantly.

This development cannot be overstated in importance. It means fewer children at risk of ill-health, under achievement, neglect or abuse, disaffection and drop-out, ending up in state care, and ultimately convictions and imprisonment – all most common among children with very young parents.

It represents a break in the inter-generational cycle of social dysfunction. Truly good news. . .

It is indeed truly good news for the people who are not trapped on welfare with all the negative consequences that is more likely to lead to.

It is also good news for the rest of us – more people in work and fewer on welfare saves us the long term social and financial costs of benefit dependency.

If people are looking for just one reason to vote for National this is one of the better ones because it is determined to carry on addressing the causes of problems like this rather than just throwing money at the symptoms.

A strong economy means more jobs, higher wages, and fewer people on welfare. #Working4NZ


Welfare needs health warning

22/09/2013

Quote of the week:

Welfare benefits should carry a warning label: “Danger: Taking a benefit may endanger your children.”

That’s because benefit-supported children are six times more likely to be abused or neglected. They are 14 times more likely to be known to Youth Justice. And the longer the time on a benefit, the worse it gets.

Children in households benefit-dependent for nine or more years are 13 times more likely to be abused. And 29 times more likely to be known to Youth Justice.

These are government statistics. They are derived from the Ministry of Social Development’s cohort study titled Children’s Contact with MSD Services. Rodney Hide.

Lindsay Mitchell has also written of the problem:

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has released statistical information that details the overlap between children’s contact with the benefit system, and care and protection or youth justice services.

Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell is welcoming this overdue research. “The last time MSD conducted a similar exercise was 1996 so an update was well overdue. This time the Ministry has followed the 1993 birth cohort to age 17 to explore levels of contact.

Unfortunately, the data is presented in a way that downplays the risks. The benefit cohort is only ever compared to the overall cohort as opposed to the non-benefit  cohort. This produces a finding  that the benefit cohort had a likelihood of contact with CYF that was,  ‘1.5 times that for the overall cohort.’  However, if the non-benefit cohort was the comparison group, the likelihood would rise to 3.4 times.

When MSD examines children on a benefit for 9 or more years who have experienced a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect, they describe the risk as only three times greater than the total population cohort. Again, if this benefit cohort was compared to the non benefit group the increased likelihood rises to nearly 13 times greater.” . . .

Benefits have their place as a safety net for people in temporary need and the few who will never be able to look after themselves.

But welfare can become a trap for people who could, with help, be independent and it’s not just them but their children who are worse off because of that.

A compassionate government isn’t one which fosters dependence, it’s one which helps people from welfare to work, for their sakes and their children’s sakes.


The truth, the whole truth . . .

16/10/2012

When Keith Ng blogged about the leaks on the MSD servers which could be accessed from WINZ offices he said he’d acted on a tip-off.

Only later in the day did he explain who gave him the tip:

So. The guy who tipped me off is Ira Bailey. He was one of the Urewera 17. He currently works as a system administrator, has a young child, and is not interested in being the media limelight. That’s why he asked for anonymity.

He did not have any special access to the system – he just had half an hour to kill at a WINZ office. He plugged in his USB drive and it didn’t appear, so he had a poke around the system to find it – and found the giant vulnerability instead.

He called MSD to ask if they had a reward system for reporting security vulnerabilities. This is not unusual practice, and it’s certainly not blackmail. . .

The additional background puts a different complexion on the story and raise several questions, not least of which is: why someone who is employed happened to have half an hour to kill and chose to spend in at a WINZ office?

Yesterday we might have wondered why the person who found the security hole chose to go to a blogger rather than the Ministry.

Today we know that Bailey did go to the Ministry, asked for money in exchange for the information and when none was forthcoming chose to go public.

What’s the difference?

There’s a reason court witnesses are asked to tell not just the truth but the whole truth and nothing but the whole truth.

By telling only part of the truth yesterday the people involved looked a whole lot more public-spirited than they do today. Now the element of personal gain and possible desire to do political damage have been added.

Had we known this when the story first broke it would have been seen in a different light.

This doesn’t change the fact that there was a massive hole in MSD’s computer security.

But it does raise questions about the people who exposed it, their motivation and whether or not we now know the whole truth.


MSD privacy holes

15/10/2012

Keith Ng followed a tip-off that parts of the Ministry of Social Development’s corporate network could be accessed from public computer kiosks in WINZ offices.

What he found wasn’t so much leaks as gaping holes.

This looks like more than a systems failure.

Any organisation which has private information ought to have someone who ensures that it is kept private and can’t be accessed accidentally or deliberately by anyone not authorised to it.

Ng is a freelance journalist and spent almost a week uncovering this huge security lapse. If you want to support his work you can make a donation here.


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