• Open letter to Waikato Regional Council to pay contractors a living wage
    A Living Wage is the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life. The Living Wage enables workers to live with dignity and to participate as active citizens in society. Research has found a Living Wage enables employees to be able to spend more time with their families, feel valued, be less stressed and consequently happier and more motivated in their workplaces. Furthermore, treatment of employees is integral to business success. A report undertaken in the UK found implementation of a living wage decreases staff turnover and increases productivity. Reference: Brown, Newman & Blair, (2014) "The Difference a Living Wage makes" Paper to the Population Health Congress
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  • Improve mental health education under NCEA
    NZ’s youth suicide rate is the highest in the OECD nations; it is five times higher than the UK and double the USA (UNICEF Office of Research, 2017). While we cannot presume to know the complete solution, we think that providing teens with a weekly health class as part of the NCEA schedule could go some way to helping improve their outlook on life, as well as teaching them essential life skills surrounding topics such as mental health, food and nutrition, exercise, hygiene, sexuality, and other ways of keeping their mind and body healthy. We believe that learning more about mental health issues, and how to get help for yourself and your friends, could be an essential part of reducing the stigma attached to depression and other mental health illnesses. Currently mental health is to be taught in health classes, however from our experiences with and as previous teenagers, what is set out by the government and what is taught differs. This creates people who not only don't know about what to do when someone is feeling suicidal, but also a knowledge gap on other mental/sexual/physical health topics. We also consider that these classes could teach teens to manage the stress and anxiety associated with NCEA and learn coping skills that will help them throughout their lifespan. We are losing too many teens to suicide and that loss is devastating, not only to family and friends, but to NZ as a whole, as we miss out on their full potential and contribution to our communities. We are Massey University BA students working on a group project to improve mental health in New Zealand. While the overall rate of suicides is extremely concerning, we have chosen to focus on the teen suicide rate. References: UNICEF Office of Research. (2017). Building the future: Children and the sustainable development goals in rich countries, Innocenti report card 14. Retrieved from https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/RC14_eng.pdf
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  • Appoint a Minister for Rainbow Issues
    Appointing a Minister for Rainbow Issues would be a major step forward in establishing true equality for our LGBTI+ communities. It would make New Zealand more inclusive of its diverse communities. It would make a clear statement to LGBTI+ people that they are being treated as the equals of other citizens and residents of this country. It would streamline the way, in which LGBTI+ issues are handled by the Government and it would ensure that such matters are handled by a representative, in whom they may have confidence. It would enable such matters to be handled with competence and continuity and it would enable LGBTI+ people to see that this is so. It would make it easier for the Government to consult with LGBTI+ communities. It would give transparency to the handling of LGBTI+ issues and it would demonstrate yet again that New Zealand is a world leader in social equality and fairness. As an example the Government of the Australian Capital Territory has an Office for LGBTIQ Affairs. http://www.cmd.act.gov.au/policystrategic/the-office-for-lgbtiq-affairs
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  • Safer Three Kings: No More Bottle Stores
    Alcohol Healthwatch estimates alcohol-related harm in New Zealand costs $14.5m each day. The brunt is disproportionately on youth, Maori and Pasifika in our communities, and there is a link between high density of off-licences and the heavier drinking patterns that result in much of the harm. Harm includes the health of the drinker themselves, such as increased rates of cancer and fetal alcohol syndrome, as well as harm to others, with alcohol playing a direct or indirect role in many fire fatalities, drownings, suicide and self-inflicted harm deaths, and the growing road toll. 43% of all alcohol is sold from off-licences, like the one proposed. This Super Liquor would be a large store, the size of the old bed shop, likely focused on selling bulk amounts of alcohol at low prices. It would increase the amount of alcohol in our community when we need to limit supply, and in particular reduce sales from off-licences where the liquor is then consumed in unsupervised circumstances (in contrast with on-licences). Three Kings already has a large number of off-licences and problems with anti-social behaviour as a result of alcohol abuse. There have been repeated incidents of violence and abuse in the carpark across the road from the proposed site, at 546 Mt Albert Rd, with alcohol playing a role. Several nearby shops, including existing bottle shops, have been violently robbed in particular the Liquor Legends on Duke St and the Crown Superette on Melrose Rd. Local schools and parks end up vandalised and littered with broken glass, as people drink alcohol purchased at bottle shops in public despite liquor bans. Resources of both council and schools have to be used to clean up the mess, when some of it could be avoided by reducing the sale of alcohol in the area. There are a number of local sites of cultural importance where anti-social behaviour fueled by alcohol would be inappropriate, including places of worship such as the almost adjacent Three Kings Congregational Church, and Ranfurly Retirement Village which is a war memorial to the Boer War and thus a place of remembrance as well as home to some of our more vulnerable older people. Finally, the District Licensing Committee process allows people to make submissions to object to the application, and this petition is an important opportunity for those who can't make a submission to still be able to show their opposition. It is possible there will also be a hearing on this application, particularly if the petition is signed by a lot of locals, which will provide another opportunity for the local community to have a say. There was a public meeting on Friday 7th September to discuss it, and there will be another one to plan further on Friday 12th October, 7pm, at the Waikowhai Room, Fickling Centre, 546 Mt Albert Rd (underneath the Mt Roskill Library and opposite the proposed site).
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  • Call to Parliament for improved access to the residential care subsidy
    My name is Grace Taylor. I am the daughter of a mother suffering from Alzheimer's / Early Onset Dementia. Mum is 1 of the 60,000 people in New Zealand currently affected by this disease. A statistic set to triple in New Zealand by 2050.[1] In March 2018, my mother’s health deteriorated and as a result, medical professionals advised my brother (who lives in Australia) and I that our mum required full time care by skilled professionals. We made the heartbreaking decision to admit our mother into a residential care home. A bigger hit came in May 2018, when my mother fell victim to unfair legislation that is crippling our family to financially provide for the quality care that my mother so rightly deserves. Two months after mum's condition required her to be admitted into full time care, mum’s application to the Ministry of Social Development for the residential care home subsidy was denied, in full and stood down to reapply again for another 4 years. This is due to the strict, blanket criteria of the eligibility for this subsidy. More specifically the criteria around the income and asset testing of applicants. Anyone’s loved ones could require residential care for many health reasons. As of 30 June 2018 there were 31,566 people aged 65+ in long term aged residential care. In addition there were 550 in respite care, for a total of 32,116. There are a further 1271 “Other residents” in living in aged care facilities but who don’t qualify for aged residential care ie “people fully funded by ACC or people with long-term conditions who are not assessed for aged residential care”.[2] Papers released under the Official Information Act show that each year around 1000 people with assets or income over the threshold receive no government help to pay weekly residential care costs that can reach over $1000.[3] "The asset base that you have to fall below to qualify for the subsidy is, I would argue, really quite low. We get a lot of people saying to us, look I just didn't know that dementia would be this expensive. It really costs people a lot of money." - Paul Sullivan, Chief Executive Dementia NZ I went public with my mother’s story on social media in May 2018. Within 24 hours - 10 NZ families contacted me directly with very similar stories for their loved ones with that have required residential care home to care for their loved ones. And there are so many more. With the denial of her residential care home subsidy due to the asset and gifting threshold set by the Ministry of Social Development, my mother has been stood down for 4 years to receive any financial support for her care home fees. Leaving my brother and I to pay her $4900 monthly fees, for the next 4 years. I am a single mother, I work full time, have a mortagage, and the only benefit I receive from the government is the OSCAR subsidy for my son’s after school care. Since March 2018 I have been had to take out personal loans, and rely on contributions of my brother, mum’s minimal pension, and my salary to pay $890 a fortnight for our family home mortgage, and $4960 a month for mums care home fee. As of August 2018, I can no longer maintain these costs. As a result we have been forced into a decision to sell our family home, of 40 years, in order to fund mums care over the next 4 years. A home that was the only place that was familiar and safe to my mother as her dementia took hold, a home I have been raising my son, a home that was my mother’s only material asset, a home that my mother worked 3 jobs to own and provide as security for her children. This is now being taken from us. My mother has never received a benefit from the government and has worked 2 sometimes 3 jobs for over 40 years to provide for us. I have followed all the formal avenues and processes with my local MP, Ministry of Social Development and Ministry of Health. Having received responses from each minister directly it became very clear that what needs to be addressed is the legislation around the residential care home subsidy. This is my call, on behalf of many voices, for that action. Please raise your voice with me. Fa'afetai tele lava. To read more about the detailed bigger picture of my family's story please visit: https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/363396/families-of-dementia-sufferers-face-huge-bills Tagata Pasifika feature story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27r-EA0JSJY&t=7s Here is my open letter to NZ in response to our situtation. https://www.facebook.com/grace.taylor.5437923/videos/1627972693991555/ References 1. As stated in the report Economic Impact of Dementia (2016) by Deloitte & Alzheimer's New Zealand 2. New Zealand Aged Care Association 3. Radio New Zealand, 6th August 2018
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  • Save the Bromley Bus Service
    As a result of decisions made through Environment Canterbury’s Long-Term Plan 2018-28 process, it has been decided the 145 route that currently runs from Westmorland to Eastgate will be changed. The proposed options for public transport in the draft Long-Term Plan included that the six lowest-performing bus routes in Christchurch would be discontinued. Over 700 submissions were received about the public transport proposals, including many verbal submissions at the hearings held in late April and early May. These submissions were considered by the Councillors before the decisions about the final route changes were made. The new solution includes changes such as reducing frequency instead of entirely removing routes, and redirecting existing routes. Despite the new solution being reached, the section of the 145 bus route that currently services Bromley is still set to be discontinued. These changes are expected to be implemented in October 2018. There is a high level of concern from residents and businesses regarding the discontinuation of the Bromley end of the 145, so Environment Canterbury are going to consider whether it might be possible to retain any level of service for this area at the same time. An update on these options will be shared with the Environment Canterbury Council in August 2018. We are calling on Environment Canterbury to retain public transport services in our neighbourhood, as the walk to reach alternative bus routes is not manageable by many of the people who currently use the 145. It's not practical for people with mobility limitations to make the walk. We fear that without the vital bus service link to places such as Eastgate and the associated social experiences and essential services that some people, particularly the elderly, will become more socially isolated. This petition has been organised by staff and users of the Bromley Community Centre, 45 Bromley Road. Please sign the petition to add your voice.
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  • Give me room - a campaign for a safe passing rule
    Close passing is intimidating, dangerous, and in the worst cases life threatening for people on bikes and foot. The NZ Road Code recommends 1.5m: “Give cyclists plenty of room when passing them. Ideally, allow at least 1.5 metres between you and the cyclist”, but this lacks the force of law. Bike lanes are great but they don't go everywhere. People on bikes need the protection of the law. More at https://can.org.nz/givemeroom Safe Passing Rule FAQ at http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/2015/11/13/mythbusting-what-a-safe-passing-rule-means/
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  • Porirua College singers to lead the anthem at the next All Blacks test
    Because those young women can sing! But not only that. Tiresa, Rosetta and Anastasia are young people from Porirua who will be able to represent us all on the national stage at one of the biggest sporting events this year. They can show the strength, diversity and real-ness of our young people. Who usually gets to decide who represents us? Just imagine, this could become one of *those* stories that captures the public mood. Where we're able, through our signatures, infiltrate the height of a professional sporting event (and all the pageantry that goes with an All Blacks test match) with raw, talented and classy people like these 3 young singers. And this isn't to dis' the professional singers that NZ Rugby usually use at test matches. It's a chance for NZ Rugby to show its community-minded side, and to give an opportunity for these young, talented school students from Porirua to shine on a global stage - a real authentic voice of young New Zealand. Represent! "The richness and beauty that's in their voices is part of the richness and beauty of this community." - Porirua College principal Ragne Maxwell Check them out: https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018651010/porirua-students-version-of-nz-national-anthem-goes-viral Porirua teens say key to good anthem is 'sing it with pride', Stuff, 28 June: https://bit.ly/2tAEXtC
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  • Let's reform homosexual laws in Samoa
    A reform of these sections in the Crimes Act is important because gay rights = human rights. People should be able to love, free of judgement and potential persecution. Polynesia has been sexually diverse for many years and, before colonisation and Christianity, was accepted as apart of the norm. No one should have a permanent criminal conviction, simply for loving who they want to. These laws do not reflect well on the progressive nature of young Samoans today, along with future generations and this inflexible view of sexuality is non-inclusive, discriminatory and extremely conservative. A reform would mean our LGBTQ+ peers are more protected from discrimination and would have the ability to love freely. We understand that, typically, when laws change, mindsets do as well and therefore are asking the Samoan Government to reform these laws to grant this change. Crimes Act PDF for reference: http://www.palemene.ws/new/wp-content/uploads//01.Acts/Acts%202013/Crimes_Act_2013_-_Eng.pdf
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  • Fund Mental Skills Training for All Children and Young People in Aotearoa New Zealand
    Latest data shows New Zealand ranks 34th out of 41 countries regarding overall childhood wellbeing. Our adolescent suicide rate is the highest among developed nations. (1) Antidepressant medication being prescribed to children under 13 years in New Zealand has increased 79.4 percent since 2006, and increased 101.9 percent among teens aged 14-18 during the same time period. (2) Recent analysis has shown that increased smartphone and tablet usage corresponds with increased feelings of loneliness, decreasing levels of sleep and decreased social interactions among young people, leading some experts to comment that we are on the brink of a major mental health crisis among children and young people. (3) NZ school children, teachers and youth services staff are not receiving the support they need due to an absence of funding for evidence-based and proven programmes such as Pause, Breathe, Smile and ATAWHAI. EVIDENCE-BASED, AOTEAROA-DEVELOPED SOLUTIONS Pause, Breathe, Smile and ATAWHAI have a combined highly positive impact for young New Zealanders across a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds. This includes: - mainstream primary, intermediate and high schools - Māori and Pasifika tamariki and rangatahi - schools with high ethnic diversity - children impacted by the Canterbury earthquakes - marginalised youth dealing with anxiety and depression - youth in alternative education and youth justice Both programmes are being translated into Te Reo Māori with a focus on applications and research in partnership with iwi and within Kura Kaupapa Māori settings. Pause, Breathe, Smile aligns with the New Zealand Education Curriculum, making it easy for schools to implement. It is supported by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and has an internationally recognised published evidence base of effectiveness. ATAWHAI is a youth mentoring and mindfulness-based programme that has resulted in transformational change among high-priority youth. Research (4,5,6), and evaluation results of these programmes show children and young people experience: - Increased calm and resilience - Increased focus and attention - Enhanced self-awareness and conflict-resolution skills - Increased kindness, empathy, connection and pro-social behaviour - Statistically significant increases in emotional and general wellbeing Teachers, youth mentors and program facilitators also report reductions in stress. These findings add to the international evidence base, which shows that when taught in schools, mindfulness boosts cognitive performance and builds resilience (7). Please sign now to recommend funding for these programmes. Together we can boost the wellbeing of our nation’s young people, ensuring they’re equipped with awesome mental skills to thrive and not just survive in the face of a rapidly changing, uncertain world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s_nkIo3TwM&t=64s https://youtu.be/ABoQdxBFnss ABOUT US: Mindfulness Education Group: https://www.mindfulnesseducation.nz The Kindness Institute: http://thekindnessinstitute.com REFERENCES: (1) UNICEF (2017). Building the Future - Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries. UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti. Florence, Italy. (2) Wiggins, Amy. Number of children and teens on anti-depressants doubles. New Zealand Herald. 7 June 2017: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11870484 (3) Twenge, Jean M. Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? The Atlantic. September 2017: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/ (4) Rix G and Bernay R (2014) A study of the effects of mindfulness in five primary schools in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Teachers’ Work, Volume 11, Issue 2, 201-220. (5) Devcich D A, Rix G, Bernay R & Graham E (2017). Effectiveness of a mindfulness-based program on school children’s self-reported well-being: A pilot study comparing effects with an emotional literacy program. Journal of Applied School Psychology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15377903.2017.1316333 (6) Bernay R, Esther Graham, Daniel A. Devcich, Grant Rix & Christine M. Rubie-Davies (2016): Pause, Breathe, Smile: a mixed-methods study of student wellbeing following participation in an eight-week, locally developed mindfulness program in three New Zealand schools, Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, DOI:10.1080/1754730X.2016.1154474. (7) Zenner C, Herrnleben-Kurz S and Walach H (2014) Mindfulness-based interventions in schools—a systematic review and meta-analysis. Front. Psychol. 5:603. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00603
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    Created by Tash, Kristina and Grant From MEG and TKI
  • Open access to a full menu of services: Public submission to the Mental Health Inquiry
    The Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction is now open to public submissions on how New Zealand’s approach to mental health and addiction needs to change. The People’s Mental Health Report [1] and other sources show that people and their whānau who experience stress, distress and addiction widely agree: • New Zealand’s social conditions can undermine wellbeing for some people. • The service system responds poorly to the needs of people with mental distress and addiction – with difficult access, a narrow range of responses and poor outcomes. To achieve open access to comprehensive range of responses, the government needs to commit to seven wellbeing priorities across the spectrum – to prevent, respond to, and lessen the impact of mental distress and addiction: • We live in social conditions that enable us to look after our own and each other’s wellbeing. • We know how to recognise and respond to stress, distress and addiction. • We can easily find services and supports for people with distress and addiction. • We get timely, respectful and helpful responses from them. • We have access to a comprehensive range of community-based services and supports. • We are supported by people who have ‘walked in our shoes’, as well as professionals. • They support us to reconnect with ourselves, our whānau and valued roles in our communities. To meet these priorities, the government needs to redesign the system: • All the sectors that have responsibility for wellbeing, distress and addiction - such as health, social development, justice, corrections and education: → Jointly fund services, support and opportunities at the local level. → Provide responses for people’s social, economic, psychological, spiritual and health needs. → Co-deliver the responses in community settings, such as primary health, marae, workplaces, and online. • Māori design and deliver services for Māori. • There is a major expansion of the peer and cultural workforces. • The system is accountable to the people for the fulfilment of the seven wellbeing priorities. The Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction gives us a rare opportunity to be part of a world-leading transformation. 'More of the same' will not fix the problem but open access to a comprehensive range of services will improve wellbeing and save lives. Please support open access to a comprehensive range of services by signing on to this Open Submission. To find out more, or read the full submission, The Wellbeing Manifesto for Aotearoa New Zealand, go to: https://www.wellbeingmanifesto.nz/ For more on the Review see: https://www.mentalhealth.inquiry.govt.nz For info on PeerZone go to: https://www.peerzone.info/ 1 - The People’s Mental Health Report: https://www.peoplesmentalhealthreport.com
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  • Free Counselling for all Kiwis: Open Submission to the Mental Health Review
    “Depression and anxiety account for more of the misery in Western Societies than physical illness does … So the front line in the fight against misery is the fight against mental illness.”[1] Counselling and talk therapy is a highly effective treatment for mild to moderate depression and anxiety[2], and in many cases should be the first treatment offered. Yet despite this, it is not widely available and as a result many New Zealanders are not receiving adequate treatment for their mental health difficulties. Frustration with how hard it was to access talk therapy and counselling was one of the most common concerns expressed in the People’s Mental Health Review[3], with many saying they wanted to access talk therapy but were unable to due to cost and availability. https://youtu.be/X_80Zzl23YA Providing Free Counselling and Talk Therapy will enable more people to access treatment earlier, and as a result will take pressure off specialised psychiatric services, already overwhelmed. We know that treatment outcomes for all mental health problems are significantly improved by access to treatment earlier. Improved access to talk therapy and counselling will save money and save lives. With New Zealand having one of the highest levels of suicide in the OECD, we should be doing everything we can to provide treatment for those struggling with their mental health. While many will express concern about the envisioned cost of such an approach, a widely cited WHO-led 2016 study[4] showed, ‘Every US$ 1 invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of US$ 4 in better health and ability to work’. Far from being a “pie in the sky” idea, fully funded counselling and talk therapy has been introduced in other countries, most notably in the UK via the “Increased Access to Psychological Therapies” or “IAPT” initiative. The growing recognition of the impact of the burden of mental health has meant many other nations are looking at how to implement such schemes. Let’s make Aotearoa a world leader in the provision of mental health care. Sign the Open Submission to support the call for Free Counselling and Talk Therapy for all Kiwis. 1. Layard, R and Clark, D. “Thrive: the Power of Evidence-Based Psychological Therapies” (2014). Penguin Books 2. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2012/08/psychotherapy-effective.aspx 3. https://www.peoplesmentalhealthreport.com 4. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2016/depression-anxiety-treatment/en/
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