Children’s voices denied in Select Committee debacle

Source: Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) believes that National’s attempt to thwart Finance and Expenditure Select Committee submission hearings on the Budget Policy Statement last week has serious implications for the democratic process.

“On this particular occasion, representation for children, people affected by disability, and those facing disadvantage was denied,” says Associate Professor Susan St John, CPAG’s Economics Spokesperson.

“There are all too few opportunities to give a voice to those who may be unable to directly convey concerns about serious matters that affect their lives.”

Dr St John says that while CPAG was presenting on many of the same issues that have been brought to the Select Committee in the past, this year was important because there are new opportunities for being listened to now that the Government is committed to a well-being budget and the priority of reducing child poverty.  

“CPAG would like the government to honour its commitment to the well-being of the worst-off children with policies that go well beyond recent lifts to family incomes through changes to Working for Families (WFF) and Accommodation Supplement increases.

CPAG says investing in children’s wellbeing requires more substantive and enduring changes than have been implemented to date. These changes must be timely, and families should not have to wait a long time as they did with the overdue Families Package.

“Lifting the income of those on core benefits by around 30%, including the adding of the child tax credits together so that the worst off get an extra $72.50 a week should be an immediate response to unacceptable levels of family poverty,” says St John.

The harmful 5% cumulative inflation rule still applies to WFF. This disadvantages low-income families in times of low inflation and has no justification except as a cost-saving measure.  Treasury’s forecasts for inflation indicate that there won’t be another adjustment until April 2022.

“As well, the recent increase to abatement rates for WFF have reduced the chances that a low-income family in paid work, who earns a bit more, has to get ahead,” says St John.

“A family may find earning over the new threshold of $42700 for WFF may not be worthwhile after tax and abatements, especially if they are also getting the Accommodation Supplement. They could lose 67.50% of those extra earnings. If they are repaying a student loan this could be nearly 80%. Once their income is over $48,000 they may lose 92% of extra income because of the higher tax rate. For example, an extra $5000 might mean they are only $400 better off at the end of the year after working harder to get ahead.”

“It is simply false economics,” Says St John.

CPAG is says the decision to continue contributions to the NZ Super fund when poverty for children is so far from being solved is also highly questionable.

“Many of working age are paying the taxes both for NZ Super today and for their own NZ Super later – if they are lucky to live that long. It is more prudent for an ageing population to invest in the wellbeing of the young today.”

To read CPAG’s full submission to the Finance and Expenditure Committee on the Budget Policy Statement 2019, download it here.

Home-based early childhood education to move to become a fully-qualified workforce

Source: New Zealand Government

The government subsidised education and care of young children that takes place in the educator’s home or in the child’s home will become professionalised, to ensure better and more consistent quality, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

Home-based early childhood education has been the fastest growing part of the early learning sector, receiving over $150 million each year in public funding. 18,267 children received education and care from a home-based educator in 2018, a 65 percent increase since 2007.

“The Coalition Government is committed to making New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child. High quality early learning is a right of every child and their parents and whānau, to give them the best possible start in life,” Chris Hipkins said.

“We’ve heard from educators and parents about the unique place that home-based learning holds, in particular the family-feel it provides, with small groups and close relationships. But we have also heard concerns about inconsistent quality across the sector, due in part to inadequate government oversight.

“Currently home-based educators are not required to hold a relevant qualification, and in fact the proportion of services with qualified educators has declined over the last decade.  The Government has decided to move towards a level 4 Early Childhood Education certificate becoming the minimum qualification for home-based educators. 

“Evidence suggests that an ECE qualification supports educators to provide children with stimulating, warm and supportive early learning experiences. 

“I will work with the sector to determine an appropriate time for this qualification requirement to become mandatory. This change represents a substantial shift and it is important to minimise disruption to parents and whānau.

In the meantime, changes to the funding rates and criteria will increasingly encourage home-based services to employ a qualified workforce.

“Te Ara Tuarua, the Level 5 kōhanga reo qualification, will also be recognised as an equivalent qualification for funding purposes. Recognising Te Ara Tuarua in home-based ECE is an important step towards providing more opportunities to use te reo Māori across the wider early learning sector.

The move to a fully-qualified workforce is the major change coming out of a review of the home-based early childhood education. Other decisions on the review include:

  • Strengthened oversight through a beefed-up ‘visiting teacher’ role;
  • Giving the Education Review Office the power to enter homes where home-based early childhood education is taking place; and
  • More explicit requirements on service providers to provide health and safety training and professional development for educators.

“It is likely that our higher requirements and greater scrutiny will result in some providers exiting the market, or moving to informal arrangements that no longer receive public money. These are most likely to be providers where educators are au pairs or family members, or the service specialises in short-term care arrangements.

“While I believe au pairs provide valuable support to parents, exempting this group would have undermined the intent of the policy. As there is no definition of au pair in the current regulatory framework, an exemption could have led to unintended rapid growth in the unqualified au pair market. This could lead to significant variability in quality across home-based early childhood education.

“Education and care in the home is a valued option for many parents and whānau.  Today’s changes will ensure that parents can be confident in the quality of education provided for their children.” 

Notes for editors

More information about the changes to home-based early childhood education is available on the Education Conversation website.

The majority of home-based educators (70%) have no early childhood education qualification. A small proportion (7%) are registered teachers, while 22% have a Level 3 early childhood education qualification or credits towards a Level 4 early childhood education qualification. 

Some highly-experienced home-based educators already hold a level 3 qualification.  The Government has decided to grandparent this group for funding purposes.

Home-based early childhood education is part of the early learning sector, and today’s decisions will become part of the Strategic Plan for Early Learning, once finalised.  The draft strategic plan is currently open for consultation.

Here is the link to the Cabinet paper.

Breast Care Centre

Source: Waikato District Health Board

The Breast Care Centre is located on the Waiora Waikato Hospital Campus, Hamilton.  You can access by vehicle via Hague Road off Pembroke Street.

Follow the signs to the Breast Care Centre, which is a one-storey white building on the right hand side.

Campus map

Consumer Council

Source: Waikato District Health Board

Consumer Council Meeting – December 2018

This is the final Consumer Council meeting for 2018 and what a year it has been! The group have come a long way in 10 months and have raised their profile significantly in the organisation to a point now where they are consistently sought out for advice and feedback, from all levels of the organisation.  We now have members who sit on various governance and advisory groups to ensure a consumer perspective is part of any decision-making.

The group has also been active in other spaces.  For example, members have been involved with providing feedback on policies, patient handouts and resources, linking community members with the DHBs complaints service and in improving mobility parking.  They have also actively sought out information from the DHB’s renal service and met with senior staff to be able to understand the challenges and complexities of offering services in rural locations.  These are just a few examples of how the Consumer Council have spent their time in 2018.

During December’s meeting, the Council had an opportunity to reflect on the highlights of the year, and review what has been achieved, as well as acknowledge where there are still opportunities.  A key highlight was the development of a priority plan, and the way members have been able to use this in their engagement with the DHB.  There was also acknowledgement of the consumer engagement in future planning through mechanisms like the Care in the Community hui which is part of the Health System Plan – a long-term project for the next 10 years to deliver on the DHB’s vision where people are empowered to live healthy lives and to stay well with quality, safe, efficient and effective services delivered around the needs of people.

Several of the Council members felt that they have learnt a lot about the DHB and have a better understanding of how it works.  This also helps them to understand where the opportunities are for improvement.

Going forward into next year, the Council are looking for time with the Executive and Board to talk about their priorities, and to explore opportunities to support the DHB in their priorities.  There is a new process that has been developed to be able to table issues with the Executive team, and to receive requests for support from the Executive team.  This new process will be piloted early next year to see how effective it is and identify any areas for improvement to this process.  A hui is planned with the Executive Group and Board to discuss the coming year and to talk about what success looks like for the Consumer Council.

The Consumer Council would also like to build on the connections they have made out in Waikato communities and identify opportunities to gather and share information so that many consumer perspectives are brought into the DHB.

Ngā mihi o te wā me te Tau Hou!

Memory Service

Source: Waikato District Health Board

Memory Service


The Memory Service is a non-acute specialist diagnostic, treatment and support service for adults experiencing complex and unexplained progressive changes in their cognition such as memory. The team includes Psychogeriatricians, Clinical psychologists, Occupational Therapists, a Community Mental Health Nurse and a Social Worker.

We offer?

  • Expert clinical diagnosis
  • A thorough and sensitive assessment
  • Information on appropriate treatment options
  • Post diagnosis education, support and future planning advice
  • Links for clients or their family to other service providers and community supports

Our approach is flexible and tailored to suit the needs of the person and their situation. We strive to be responsive to the needs of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, using interpreters where appropriate. Individuals who identify as Maori will be offered a referral to Te Puna Oranga for cultural support/assessment.

Unfortunately we are usually unable to accept referrals for non-complex presentations or where there is an already established diagnosis e.g. Dementia. However in these cases we can offer comprehensive specialist advice on how the person can be assessed and managed within Primary Care, for example.by using the Regional Dementia Pathway. Some referrals may be forwarded to other services such as Neurology, Older Persons and Rehabilitation Service or the Intellectual Disability Dual Diagnosis service, if it is felt these services are better suited to meet the person’s needs.

We welcome enquiries regarding potential referrals or service related questions. If you are interested the team is available to present on our service at your workplace

Key personnel

Dr Colin Patrick
Clinical Director

Dr Alison Stearn
Consultant Psychogeriatrician

Linda Scott-Dickens
Community Mental Health Nurse

All referrals are triaged by the Memory Service team on a weekly basis.

A client needs to agree to participate with the service.

On acceptance of a referral:

  • a referral maybe made for a CT brain scan
  • a member of the team will arrange with the client and/or whānau an appointment for an initial assessment at home

Following this further assessments maybe indicated such as neuropsychological assessment, social work assessment or occupational assessment.

Finally a clinic appointment will be scheduled with a consultant psychiatrist to provide an outcome and an agreed plan with the patient and family assessments.

Post clinic interventions may involve:

  • Supporting clients and their family/whanau to make sense of their diagnosis
  • Prescribing and monitoring medications
  • Further assessments
  • Psychological interventions
  • Psychosocial and functional support
  • Community referrals
  • Support to access services
  • Driving assessments

Our team is unable to offer crisis support or long-term support for significant mental health issues.

If your referral is declined you will receive a letter outlining why. Depending on the nature of the referral the team may offer recommendations or forward the referral to a more appropriate service.

Location

214 Pembroke Street, Hamilton
Level B1, Older Persons and Rehabilitation Building, Waikato Hospital

Contact

Phone: 07 839 8603
Fax: 07 8398 737

Meningococcal disease

Source: Waikato District Health Board

Meningococcal disease in the Waikato


It is important to understand what meningococcal disease / meningitis is and know the signs and symptoms.

  • Meningococcal disease can lead to serious infections including meningitis (inflammation of the brain membranes) and septicaemia (blood poisoning).
  • Common symptoms of meningococcal disease include sudden fever, a high fever, headache, sleepiness, joint and muscle pains. There can also be other more specific symptoms, such as a stiff neck, vomiting, refusal to feed (in infants), dislike of bright lights, or a rash consisting of reddish-purple pin-prick spots or bruises.  If you have these symptoms, you need to seek medical attention urgently.
  • Those most at risk are babies and young children under 5 years, teenagers and young adults, people with weakened immune systems, people living in shared accommodation such as halls of residence (university), boarding school and hostels, and those living in overcrowded housing.
  •  Meningococcal disease is treated with antibiotics. It cannot be treated at home – it’s important to seek medical help immediately, as early treatment is very important.
  • There is a vaccine against meningococcal types A, C, Y and W and also a vaccine against type B.  These vaccines are not free, except for some people who are seen as being at high risk for developing the disease (such as people with impaired immune systems).  Talk to your doctor or nurse about what vaccines are available and the cost of being vaccinated.

For more information visit:

In the Waikato region

In the Waikato region, we do not have a meningococcal disease outbreak and we did not have any confirmed cases of the type W meningococcal disease during 2018, the type that caused the recent outbreak in Northland.

Our Public Health Unit monitors the situation closely and there has been no increase in meningococcal cases in the Waikato region over the last two years. However we did have 8 confirmed cases of meningococcal disease in 2018. In the Waikato there is no change to our usual meningococcal vaccination recommendations and a targeted vaccination programme like that in Northland has not been recommended.

Unlike some diseases, the risk of catching meningococcal disease from attending an event is low, even if there was an infectious person there at the same time.

You need close contact with an infectious person (such as living in the same household or close kissing) to be considered at risk. The bacteria which cause meningitis/meningococcal disease is quite common however, and many people carry the bug without ever getting sick themselves. They can still pass it on to others, so it is important to always be on the alert for symptoms in your whānau.

  • See a doctor urgently if you are concerned
  • Or call Healthline free on 0800 611 116 any hour of the day or night.

Successful Responsible Camping Ambassador Programme ends

Source: Whangarei District Council

This page contains information about the 2019 Responsible Camping Ambassador Programme ending.

Updated: 20/02/2019 12:00 a.m.

​Nearly 3000 freedom camper information packs and 520 site visits later, Whangarei’s responsible freedom camping volunteer ambassadors have hung up their high-viz vests for the summer, satisfied they contributed to a much-improved peak freedom camping season for residents.

Complaints to Council’s system from the ten freedom camping spots monitored by the ambassadors from 20 December 2018 to 10 February 2019 plummeted from 55 last season to seven throughout this summer’s ambassador operation and peak freedom camping period.

“The volunteer ambassadors comprised a significant part of Council’s multi-faceted approach to freedom camping management this summer, and appear to have made a big difference,” says Whangarei Mayor, Sheryl Mai.

“Easily recognizable in their high-viz vests, these community-minded locals visited Whangarei’s ten most popular and populated freedom camping spots every evening during the 52-day operation period, to hand out information packs, answer questions, collect data and guide freedom campers to appropriate behaviour and places to camp.”

“They also fielded questions from locals and were often able to address their concerns in person and immediately, likely contributing to the low number of complaints reaching Council.”

Council’s ambassador programme was funded by a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise grant made available last year to districts experiencing enormous strain on their infrastructure and resources from the huge increase in freedom campers in recent years. 

“The grant also allowed us to make improvements to some of our popular freedom camping spots and increase enforcement of Council’s Camping in Public Places Bylaw,” Mayor Mai says.

“This three-pronged approach to managing freedom camping worked well, with ambassadors and enforcement officers operating as a particularly effective team.

“Ambassadors visited freedom camping spots in the early evening to ensure camper compliance, before the enforcement officers called with their ticket books late evening or early morning.”

“Ambassadors distributed nearly 3000 information packs to freedom campers, no doubt preventing much of last year’s non-compliant behaviour from occurring this year.”

While the volunteer ambassador programme has now ended, Council’s enforcement officers will continue to issue infringements and hand out freedom camper information packs at iSite carparks and freedom camping sites around the district for the next two months.

“They won’t have the ambassadors to assist them and will probably miss that support,” Mayor Mai says.

“However, our ambassadors have earned a good rest, and I hope they now get to enjoy our summer for themselves, something they have helped our residents and visitors to do for the last 52 days.”

Celebrating Children’s Day

Source: Whangarei District Council

This page contains information about celebrating Children’s Day at The Pulse, Raumanga on Sunday 3 March 2019.

Updated: 20/02/2019 12:00 a.m.

​Those who were disappointed when a big storm forced organisers to cancel last year’s Children’s Day have a new chance to bring all their fun-filled energy and ideas to this year’s event. 

The day-full of playful, FREE fun, will be held at The Pulse, Raumanga, on Sunday 3 March and buses are being laid on to make sure everyone can get there. “The day is about celebrating children in a way that families can enjoy,” said event team member Child and Youth Friendly Cities Coordinator Dr Terryann Clark. 

Northland agencies including Te Ora Hou, Oranga Tamariki, Electoral Team, Stand for Children, Barnados, Manaia Health PHO, Whangarei District Council, Northland District Health Board, and many more have banded together to provide the FREE fun day for the district’s children and whanau.

“We all provide our time voluntarily and everything is FREE for the public, from face painting to sausage sizzles, entertainment, slippery slides and bouncy castles.

We are still looking for new stallholders, volunteers and activities, (remember everything must be FREE) so anyone with great ideas or time to volunteer can contact the organising committee lead, Lou Davis at Te Ora Hou at ldavis@teorahou.org.nz

Keep an eye out for the timetable for the FREE BUSES to this event – coming soon.  

Council’s books beat Government’s

Source: Whangarei District Council

This page contains information about Whangarei District Council gaining the highest credit rating availble to a public organisation in New Zealand.

Updated: 20/02/2019 12:00 a.m.

​Whangarei District Council has again achieved the highest credit rating available to a public organisation in New Zealand.

International credit rating agency Standard and Poors (S&P) has changed the New Zealand Government’s credit rating from AA Stable to AA Positive, meaning a step up for Council’s credit rating as a consequence. 

“S&P considers our credit profile to be stronger than that of the New Zealand Government, however, a local government’s official rating can only be as high as central government’s, so effectively we are capped,” said Council’s Chief Financial Officer Alan Adcock.

“Even so, that still means we have stepped up to AA Positive, a rating that only seven Councils in New Zealand hold. 

“This affirms we are among the top tier of New Zealand councils, financially. This positive outlook means there is a possibility of another upgrade within the next three years if we keep doing what we committed to do in our 2018 to 2028 Long Term Plan, and if the New Zealand economy continues to improve as well.” 

The report from S&P explained that Whangarei’s stand-alone credit profile is currently higher than New Zealand’s, but that any negative impacts to the Government’s finances would also be felt by local government.

The report went on to say that Council’s financial processes were credible and well established and attributed this to the long-term plans produced every three years, the annual plans in between, and audited annual reports.

It said Council’s treasury and risk management policy set prudent limits on external borrowing, liquidity, and interest rate risks.

The report said Whangarei’s local economy was also doing well with Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment reporting an average Gross Domestic Product per capita of about US$31,400 (2014 to 2016), which is high by international standards. 

S&P also had high regard for New Zealand’s local government framework, which supported Whangarei’s credit profile.

“We believe this framework is one of the strongest and most predictable globally.

It promotes a robust management culture, fiscal discipline, and high levels of disclosure.”

Advisory group applications close

Source: Whangarei District Council

This page contains information about the number of applications received for the 2019 Disability Advisory Group and the Positive Ageing Advisory Group.

Updated: 20/02/2019 12:00 a.m.

​Whangarei folk are keen to contribute, if the number of applications to fill positions on two of Council’s advisory groups are anything to go by. 

So far 45 people have applied to fill a maximum of 24 spaces available on Council’s Positive Ageing Advisory Group and Disability Advisory Groups. 

Community Development Adviser Nicole Stanton said 24 people had applied for a place on the Positive Ageing group, 21 had applied for a place on the Disability Advisory Group.

“This is a great response, Council is very heartened by the level of interest.  It is clear that the aged and disabled communities of our District see these groups as a meaningful way to contribute. It is a great way to start the year. 

“The Disability Advisory Group helps us to improve the way our District includes and considers people living with disabilities, particularly when developing projects and planning. It has become an important source of practical advice on accessibility issues in the District, and works with the community to raise awareness of Councils work,” she said.  

“The Positive Ageing Advisory Group helps us in our work to make Whangarei a vibrant, attractive and thriving District for older people, and works with us to support improvements in the independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment and dignity of the District’s ageing people.

Ms Stanton said all applicants will be interviewed over the next three weeks. 

“We are having a challenging time selecting members from such a good array of backgrounds and skills. We aim to have all selections made by Friday 1 March so applicants can attend a joint Induction Day on Saturday 9 March 2019.

For more information on our advisory groups, click on the following link.

Advisory Groups