A fair and just social welfare system benefits us all.
"No one really experiences prosperity when some of the members of our human family are suffering."
New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, 2008
Between 1984 and 1999, New Zealand was a world leader in the growth of inequality between rich and poor. This inequality has become entrenched in recent years and its growth is a concern for all New Zealanders. For those on the bottom end, life becomes an increasing struggle.
Work is a fundamental source of social and economic wellbeing, but not all members of our society are able to participate in the workforce. New Zealand has a heritage of social welfare for those unable to work due to unemployment, sickness, disability, old age or care for dependent relatives.
However, after the 2012 restructure to the social welfare system, we continue to hear stories of families struggling due to sanctions applied for a variety of reasons, including lost paper work.
Caritas continues to comment on the state of our welfare system, seeking justice for the most vulnerable in our community. In 2015 we submitted on the Support for Children in Hardship Bill which provided an increase to the benefit for families, but also tightened expectations for solo mothers searching for work.
Caritas was a member of the group that commissioned the Alternative Welfare Working Group in 2010, along with the Social Justice Commission of the Anglican Church and the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation of New Zealand.
The Alternative Welfare Working Group produced two reports Welfare Justice in New Zealand: What we Heard and Welfare Justice for all.