• Calling for immediate action to improve mental wellbeing for diverse Asian communities in Aotearoa
    Since the outbreak of COVID-19, demand for linguistically and culturally appropriate Asian mental health services has increased notably in our communities. Front-line clinicians working with diverse Asian communities have seen how high stress, anxiety and isolation of living in a pandemic are taking their toll on Asian people’s mental health. Historically, Asian communities have low utilisation of mainstream primary and secondary mental health services in Aotearoa compared to other ethnic groups [1]. Therefore, despite the increase in demand for mental health care identified by Asian mental health services during COVID-19, Asian clients are unlikely to seek mental health care from mainstream providers and will continue to rely on Asian specific providers. While resettling in a linguistically and culturally different country is already a stressful experience for newer settlers within the Asian communities, we are seeing more complex family distress, mental health and social care needs of our clients since COVID-19. In addition to needing help with depressive and anxiety-related issues brought on by the pandemic, Asian people are also dealing with heightened stress and safety concerns around discrimination, long-term impacts of unemployment, financial hardship, domestic violence and abuse, loneliness and isolation due to separation from family members. The Human Rights Commission has reported a 30% spike in racially motivated attacks towards Asian people, particularly those of Chinese and East Asian descent, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic [2]. This figure is reflective of the increase in distress reported by our clients from bullying, verbal and non-verbal attacks. Although there is no official reporting of suicide rates connected to COVID-19, we are alarmed by the increase in the suicide rate amongst the Asian population in the recently published provisional suicide data released by the Chief Coroner. The suicide rates for the Asian population had increased from 5.09 to 7.91 per 100,000 between July 2019-June 2020, which went against the declining suicide trends for all other ethnic groups in Aotearoa [3]. The Covid-19 pandemic has further brought to the fore the significant service gaps and unmet needs within Asian communities. We reiterate the urgent need for a national-level strategy and interventions to be put in place to stop the increase in suicide and poor mental health outcomes amongst this diverse and growing population group. The NAMAA (group) acknowledgement of the place of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Tangata Whenua and a willingness to work in partnership with Tangata Whenua. Please sign the petition to support our call for the Ministry of Health to address the mental health needs of diverse Asian communities in Aotearoa. Thank you for helping us! You can read the full version of our Open Letter here: [https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:4f785297-35d8-4d97-a569-6156d2957b95] Ngā Manaakitanga, The National Asian Mental Health and Addiction Advocacy and Advisory (NAMAA) Group Kelly Feng – National Director, Asian Family Services Dr Gary Cheung – Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, School of Medicine, The University of Auckland Dr Elsie Ho – MNZM, Honorary Academic, School of Population Health, The University of Auckland Dr Aram Kim – Psychiatrist, Chairperson of the Korean Community Wellness Society Patrick Au – Registered Psychiatric Nurse and Counsellor in Private Practice Rebecca Zhang – Psychologist, Project Lead, Te Pou Ivan Yeo – Deputy Director, Asian Family Services Shirleen Prasad – Asha Programme Lead, Asian Family Services Cecilia Wong-Cornall – Professional Teaching Fellow, School of Population Health, The University of Auckland Kristy Kang – Project Coordinator and Youth Representative, Asian Family Services
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  • 4-year Parliamentary Term
    We support a 4-year parliamentary term to encourage future governments to implement longer term, more forward-thinking, strategic and visionary policies for Aotearoa New Zealand - rather than the current short-term decision making and electioneering cycle. A 4-year parliamentary term was suggested in the 2019 report 'Foresight, insight and oversight' authored by the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies (Victoria University) and the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. In September 2020, the local body organisation Local Government in New Zealand passed a remit supporting a 4-year election cycle. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/392952/new-report-calls-for-four-year-term-more-mps-in-parliament https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/editorial/four-year-term-worth-debating
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  • Consent Education should be compulsory for First-Year Tertiary Students
    In a world free from sexual violence, students would be able to learn and achieve, without fear, harm or violence. Students would be able to walk through campus, attend lectures, engage in tutorials, knowing that they are valued, respected, and treated equally. Starting tertiary study is an important time in a young person's life, and sets them up for their entire life course 'pipeline'. When a student faces barriers or trauma during their study, it often has lifelong ripple effects and consequences. Recent research shows that 1 in 3 students will experience sexual harm during study [1], and this mirrors Thursdays in Black's own findings, which highlighted that over 50% of participants had experienced some form of sexual harm during study [2]. Research on wider populations shows that in Aotearoa, 1 in 3 women, 1 in 6 men, and 1 in 2 transgender people will experience sexual harm. Research also shows that women, Māori, Queer/Takatāpui, and disabled students are at significantly higher risk of experiencing harm in comparison to other identities, and that 90% of sexually harmful situations happen between people that know each other, for example friends, relationships, colleagues, or family. At Thursdays in Black, our vision is to improve these circumstances, by mandating sexual consent education for first years students. This education will empower young people by giving them the skills to navigate and create their own healthy sexual relationships, help prevent harmful behaviours, and contribute to the ongoing culture change of tertiary institutions. By teaching these skills to students aged 17-20, we will be setting them up with a kete of tools that will benefit them throughout their life, and help make our communities safer. Yet at present, there is no legal requirement for tertiary institutions to offer compulsory courses to teach students about sexual consent. New Zealand institutions currently have a fragmented approach to consent education, with different institutions offering different levels of engagement, different approaches, and some with out any programmes at all. At Thursdays in Black, we believe that Aotearoa can do better, and see that implementing such an education policy as not only urgent, but long overdue. We request that the Minister pass legislation requiring tertiary institutions in Aotearoa to provide sexual consent education to all first-year tertiary students. Such education should be a research-based program, created with and facilitated by subject matter experts and the sexual violence sector, it should engage student leaders, operate on a bi-cultural model that upholds Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and reflect an intersectional approach that respects the disproportionate impact sexual violence has on specific groups. Tertiary institutions, for the most part, remain out-dated and traditional in their thinking -- often reinforcing a rape culture of power imbalances, misogyny, and toxicity. This does not make a safe environment for our tertiary students. Help make education safe. Sign the petition today to call on the Minister to implement compulsory consent courses for first-year students. 1. Unpublished Phd Thesis by Kayla Stewart, for a preliminary discussion of her findings, see https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/113090659/a-third-of-women-university-students-report-being-sexually-assaulted-what-do-we-owe-them 2. In 2017, Thursdays in Black Aotearoa conducted a report titled ‘In Our Own Words’, which details the extent to which tertiary students experienced sexual violence prior to, and during, their studies You can find it here: https://library.nzfvc.org.nz/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=5557
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  • Supporting paid leave for women after abortions
    The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has a focus under Goal 5 on safe abortion as part of protecting “human rights and promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”. Target 5.6 seeks to ensure “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences”. We believe that the Holiday Amendment Bill act could be changed to better suit the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to better support women in Aotearoa. We hope you consider our suggestion as young people and women going into the workforce. As a society, we believe we need to do more to ensure women have equal rights and have equitable working conditions. Thank you for helping us in our fight to remove the word ‘unplanned’ from Ginny Anderson’s Holiday Amendment Bill. Ngā mihi, Lorna Hallett Renee Hamilton Kate Chu Athena Kapralos Ella Murdoch Evie Harrington Bella Redshaw Bintou Fiti-Jaiteh Natasha Taylor Valora Leilua-Tiatia Tia-Rhiena Martin-Upton Nicole Askari Ruby McGovern Sophie Irving
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  • Moratorium on Mining Permits for Conservation Land
    In 2017, in the Speech from the Throne, the Labour/NZ First/Green Government made a commitment to having no new mines on conservation land. The Government has, however, failed to implement this policy, and as a result numerous permits for mining related activity (prospecting, exploration and mining) have been granted across the nation’s conservation estate. This is unacceptable. This campaign is so important, and so urgent that the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand are now supporting this petition also (from May 2021). Conservation land is highly valued by New Zealanders, and is held by the Government for conservation purposes. It makes up approximately 1/3 of New Zealand's total land area and is simply too precious to mine. There are classes of conservation land including National Parks, public conservation land and marine reserves and other protected lands and waters; public conservation land includes forest parks, scenic reserves, ecological reserves and stewardship land. Stewardship land has been cited as one of the main reasons that the no new mines policy has not been implemented. Some are of the belief that stewardship land is 'low value' and should be excluded from the policy, when in fact, stewardship land includes a range of land, a significant portion of which has very high conservation values; stewardship land contains approximately 28% of biodiversity priority sites. The Hauraki Coromandel region alone has more than 300,000 hectares of stewardship land, including the Hukarahi Conservation Area, the site of the first closure due to kauri dieback on the Peninsula, the Whangapoua Forest Conservation Area, some 5000ha of mature native forest and the Otama Wetland, a part of the nationally significant Otama Dune system. To groundtruth all stewardship land in Aotearoa will take many years, and our conservation land must not be left vulnerable to mining until that happens. The simple fact is that the Government indicating their intent to ban new mines being established on conservation land has resulted in the industry not only rushing to get permits to prospect, explore and mine in areas they want to target, but also lobbying to exclude stewardship land. This can not be a blanket in or out decision - there is too much at stake. Changes proposed in any review of stewardship land must include giving effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi via negotiations with manawhenua of that rohe. A moratorium would ensure that the question of stewardship land can be considered carefully to ensure that any policy is robust in protecting all conservation land, while not sacrificing some of our most significant areas to mining while the policy is finalised. Support from: https://www.forestandbird.org.nz/themes/custom/forestandbird/images/logo-forest-and-bird-og-image.jpg
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  • Intergenerational Open Letter for Climate Action Now
    This would be disastrous for the youth of today, and for all future generations. Increasing extreme events and sea level rise have the potential to wreck our civilisation and bring misery and hardship to billions of people globally. It is time for climate change to be at the heart of every decision the New Zealand government, now and in the future, makes. The generations of today, and those not yet born demand this of you. For communities in the Pacific this means sea level rise, it means damage to food and water supplies, and for some island communities it may mean losing the islands they have lived on for generations. Here in New Zealand, many of the same issues will threaten our livelihoods and lifestyles around the country. We know the technologies are at hand – renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, hydrogen fuels and many others, but we just need to get on and deploy these as fast as we can. We urge that all New Zealand governments act urgently on climate change, as we must start future-proofing our country economy and mindsets to climate change as we can do this. The Climate Change Commission in its April 2020 letter to government has indicated the way of achieving this - through clean energy and energy efficiency; improved transport systems including public transport; sustainable land use and robust transport, energy and water infrastructure. Through the response to COVID-19, we have seen the power of people to act as a collective. It is time to see to climate action and climate justice, this really is our moment across all generations. We are out of time – we have had the Pandemic – and it is time for action by all.
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  • Save Shelly Bay
    Shelly Bay is a gem in the Wellington harbour, a place for all people. We ask you to support Shelly Bay becoming the gateway to a world-class national heritage park. We urge you to contact your local Councillors ask them to think of the future. There is no requirement to deliver affordable housing in Shelly Bay Taikuru under the proposed development, proposed apartments are likely to be valued $1 Million or higher? Furthermore a second housing development is being planned for on top of Watts Peninsula beside the prison this is another plan to development 100's of houses. We ask that you say no to the sale and lease and take the bold step of looking ahead for Wellington's future, with Whataitai National Heritage park. This is an opportunity to do something great for our children's children's children. Sign to support Shelly Bay becoming the gateway to a world-class national heritage park.
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  • 6 PROMISES FOR 6000 (CHILDREN IN THE STATE CARE SYSTEM)
    Aotearoa New Zealand has over 6000 children and young people in our state care system. VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai believes 6 PROMISES must be made to them. These are promises you would want to make to your children should they ever be in a position to need the care system. We are putting a call out to every New Zealander to compel their elected representatives to stand behind these promises and ensure they are fulfilled. VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai worked with care experienced young people to come up with 6 PROMISES FOR 6000 – a call to all those running for elected office to agree to uphold six basic asks. Our Members of Parliament are uniquely placed to deliver on these promises. With your support, we can amplify the voice of children and young people in care and seek commitment to these promises during the next electoral term. Through a groundswell movement of people across Aotearoa, we would like to see all our politicians sign up to these 6 PROMISES to ensure the care system becomes a truly caring system. Please sign the petition asking all elected representatives to commit to these 6 PROMISES. Also, please express your support for the movement via your social channels using #6promises. VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai was created by children with care experience for children with care experience. Established in 2017, VOYCE is an independent organisation that helps to advocate for the more than 6000 young people young children living with whanau or foster families, all over New Zealand. We exist to amplify the voices of tamariki and rangatahi and ensure they are at the centre of all conversations and decisions being made within the care sector. We see the potential, abilities and strengths apparent in the care community every day and know we can have a system that ensures they realise their full potential. Thank you for your support.
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  • Support families in need. Extend the Winter Energy Payment
    As New Zealanders, we believe in justice and compassion. We want everyone to have the opportunity to thrive. But, right now, hundreds of thousands of people in our country are living in poverty. Despite our differences, we share a responsibility to make sure everyone has a decent standard of living and the same chances in life. Poverty in New Zealand affects people of all ages and situations – children and their parents, young adults, people in and out of work and people with disabilities. The stress that comes with poverty can erode people’s mental and physical health. Showing compassion as a society means making sure no-one has to endure the harms of poverty. On October 1, 2020, the Winter Energy Payment that is provided to people on government income support, to assist with heating a home, is due to expire. This will cut the already low incomes for people locked in poverty by $63 a week for couples and $41 a week for an individual. But as research has shown, $40 - $60 less per week means not being able to go to the dentist or doctor, not being able to afford emergency bills and not being able to pay for kids to participate in extracurricular activities like sports, art or volunteering. At a time where food banks are reporting record demand and the number of people needing government income support had its biggest jump in 24 years in April, the government needs to show some compassion. By permanently extending the Winter Energy Payment, the government can help make it possible for everyone to do well.
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  • Calling on Parliament for a Green Response to COVID-19
    Our Recommendations We are calling on you, our leaders and representatives, to put the climate crisis at the forefront of this election. We urge you to make strong, effective policies to fight climate change. a) Honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi by actively seeking and listening to the Māori and Pasifika leadership when making green policies. This inevitably requires constitutional transformation and recognition of tino rangatiratanga. b) Re-build from COVID-19 with environmental bottom lines and climate change at the forefront c) A just transition into a forward-looking low carbon economy. d) Listen to and work with climate scientists who have been warning us for decades. e) Take action now We ask what policies you and your party plan to enact which address these recommendations? Please let us know at vuwclimateclinic@gmail.com
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  • Restore all the Queen Elizabeth Park wetlands
    The protection of the Queen Elizabeth Park area is so important to the Wellington region for environmental, recreational, social and climate change reasons. Now we have the opportunity to increase the area of the protected environment and restore the wetlands. The Wellington region has less than 3 percent of its original wetlands left. Drained and farmed peat emits huge amounts of carbon dioxide whereas rewetted peat will become a carbon sink so this action is consistent with GWRC declaring a climate change emergency. It also reduces the need for chemical weed control as woody weeds such as gorse and blackberry cannot survive in wet earth. Natural spaces in urban environments offer huge benefits to community well-being not to mention native flora and fauna. By expanding the protected area we could set a precedent for the rest of the country to show what is possible. It could also become a significant education tool. We've had some wins to protect what still exists, but we can do more! Add your name today and be part of this joint submission to show the public support to protect this special area. See our previous petition at https://our.actionstation.org.nz/petitions/save-the-raumati-wetlands-in-queen-elizabeth-park-and-create-kapiti-s-biggest-carbon-sink Greater Wellington Parks Network Plan: http://www.gw.govt.nz/parks-network-plan
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  • Leave no-one behind: Campaign to address digital exclusion
    Have you or someone you know ever tried to fill out a government form online? How about doing that on your phone? And uploading documents to it? What if your internet connection was limited? Or English wasn’t your first language? Or you were vision impaired? Or didn't have a credit card? What if you needed help to understand, and what you really wanted was someone to talk to? Consider the frustration this causes you and what it looks like when you’re made further vulnerable as you stare into the digital divide. The digital-only or digital-first approach being embraced by government agencies is excluding some of Aotearoa’s most vulnerable people and communities. This is unacceptable. We want to see people’s needs put at the centre of public services and are asking candidates seeking election as our representatives in Parliament, to pledge to ensuring this is the case. Interacting with government services is often about accessing rights and entitlements and it’s important that there aren’t any barriers in the way. Digital services are not the right response for all people or in all circumstances. There needs to be genuine choice for people about how they can interact - whether online, face-to-face, through others or by phone. It is critical that as a country we don’t allow the digital transformation of public services to further entrench disadvantage and vulnerability. We have written to election candidates asking them to commit to addressing digital exclusion so that no-one is left behind or left out because they can't or don't wish to engage online. As part of this campaign, we are also seeking funding to cover the transfer of costs that has resulted from government agencies closing up shop in communities and sending people to get help from CABs, including to get paper copies of forms. Join us in this call to address digital exclusion so that we leave no-one behind! This campaign builds on the findings and recommendations of our report, ‘Face to Face with digital exclusion’. You can read the full report here: https://www.cab.org.nz/what-we-do/social-justice/digital-exclusion/
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