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New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services,
"The unrelenting pressure on social services in our communities continues despite the small drop in the unemployment rate," said Ruby Duncan, the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) Acting President.
"Christian social services and other organisations providing support for families in NZ communities have responded magnificently to the impacts of the recession. They have stretched their resources, sought out additional supports and made a significant difference to families who have had their incomes reduced through one or more family members losing work," Mrs Duncan said.
"While we see many examples of families being badly affected by poverty, we also see how friends, family and communities work hard to help support each other."
"NZCCSS representatives recently attended the Government's Welfare Working Group Conference on Welfare Reform," said Mrs Duncan.
"We are really concerned at the group's terms of reference and the general direction that they appear to be taking. The fact the Government has told the Group it cannot consider whether the level of benefit payments is adequate means they will not be able to properly address the poverty that underpins most of the issues we see in our client families." "The Welfare Working Group's principle focus of moving people into employment will not help many of the single parent families we work alongside to raise their children in a safe and healthy environment. For some families work is a great answer, for others it can lead to 'latch-key kids', greater stress and more family dysfunction. One size does not fit all and NZCCSS hopes that any new policies recognise this," Mrs Duncan stated.
"The fifth quarterly Vulnerability Report demonstrates that while there was small drop in unemployment to the end of the March 2010 quarter some sectors of New Zealander society have been disproportionately hit by the recession," said Trevor McGlinchey, NZCCSS Executive Officer.
"More than a quarter of both young Maori and young Pacific people are unemployed and the majority of these young people are also not involved in training or education," says Mr McGlinchey.
"If we don't respond to their needs they will not be able to grow the skills and knowledge New Zealand needs them to have in order to ensure a prosperous future for our nation. The Youth Guarantee does not appear to be meeting their needs and should be revisited in order to provide a meaningful way of engaging with young Maori and young Pacific people."
"The Report shows that the lack of State houses is becoming more and more apparent, with the Category A (those with the severest need) waiting list growing by 47% over the 12 months to March," said Mr McGlinchey.
"We know that access to safe, healthy and affordable housing is often the turning point for families, allowing them to settle in one place, be part of a local community and become valued members of society. The Budget decision not to increase investment in State house construction is short sighted and must be revisited prior to the next Budget."
Vulnerability Reports will only be published online with printable versions available for download from the www.justiceandcompassion.org.nz website.
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