Engage Aotearoa

Council’s Ethnic People’s Advisory Panel newsletter Nov 2011

Click here to read the latest newsletter from Ethnic People’s Advisory Panel (EPAP)

New Online Feedback Service: Reo Ora Health Voice

This online community allows people from Auckland and across New Zealand to tell the Auckland District Health Board about your experiences of their services and let them know what you think about other health topics. They also agree to receive invitations from us to do short online surveys or join discussion groups.

The surveys and discussions are important, and the feedback they get helps them make the best decisions about their services and how we spend the health dollar.

Your feedback can be anonymous if you want it to be – just don’t tell them your full name! See the privacy policy on the website if you want more information about how they will and will not use your feedback.

You can unsubscribe at any time and you only take part if you are interested and have the time.

You can read more at www.healthvoice.org.nz

If you would like a link to place on your website, or other information please email sarahd@adhb.govt.nz .

Recovery Meanings and Measures Report Released

The Mental Health Commission released the Recovery Meanings and Measures report on November 2nd 2011.  This report is a literature scan to clarify the concept of recovery and describe different recovery measures, as part of initial work to develop a “DHB Recovery Report Card”.

It is a resource for those working in mental health and addiction to help them understand the concept of recovery and how to evaluate the extent to which the services they provide are focused on recovery.

An online copy of the publication can be found here.


‘How Do We Talk About Suicide’ Conference Footage Now Online

The sessions and keynote speeches from this year’s “How Do We Talk About Suicide?” conference from SPINZ are now online to view along with transcripts.

Over 400 people attended this year’s suicide prevention conference, the largest attendance ever for a SPINZ event, and the project hopes to reach an even wider audience with these online recordings.

Those who attended the conference were asked to fill in an evaluation in order to help SPINZ make improvements for future events.

If you have time, they would also like those of you who either watched the live stream or have viewed the online recordings to fill in an evaluation.  You can find the link for that here.

Official Welfare Reform Fact Sheet

Want to know more about the National Party’s proposed Welfare Reforms?

Here’s a copy of their official fact sheet.

1 November 2011

Welfare Reform Fact Sheet

Over the next three years New Zealand’s welfare system will be reformed with new benefits that recognise that most beneficiaries can and do want to work.

The new system takes a long term investment approach to getting people off welfare and into work.  This means more intensive support will be provided to people who are capable of working but who are likely to remain on benefit long term without that support.

The Government’s expectation is that most people on a benefit are able to work, that they will make an effort to get work and they will have to show they are trying to get work.

12 percent of New Zealand’s working age population are on a benefit.

Under the new system three benefits will replace all of the main benefit payments by 2013.  Benefit rates will remain at current levels and continue to be increased annually for inflation.

Jobseeker Support includes:

  • Unemployment Benefit
  • Sickness Benefit
  • DPB Sole Parents – with youngest child 14 years and older
  • Widow – with youngest child 14 years and older
  • DPB Women Alone

Sole Parent Support includes:

  • DPB Sole Parents with children younger than 14 years
  • Widows with children younger than 14 years

Supported Living Payment includes:

  • Invalid’s Benefit
  • DPB Care of sick and infirm

Jobseeker Support

Jobseeker Support widens the population of people who are available for full-time and part-time work.

The Government’s expectation is that most sole parents with children over the age of 14 years are able to undertake full-time work as children over 14 can be left without parental supervision.

People too sick or disabled will be assessed on their capacity to work based on their individual circumstances.  Sick people can be exempted from the work test until they are well enough to work.  This could be part-time or full-time.  GPs will continue to be involved in medical assessments for the first few months.

Sole Parent Support

Sole Parent Support will include sole parents 19 years and over on DPB Sole Parent and widows with children younger than 14 years.

People will be required to look for part-time work when their child turns 5 years and full-time work as their youngest child turns 14 years when they will transfer to Jobseeker Support.  Parents with children under 5 years will be expected to prepare for work.

If a person has an additional child while on Sole Parent Support, they will be given an exemption from work testing for 12 months.  This aligns with parental leave provisions.

After 12 months work obligations will be reset based on the age of their youngest child when they came on to benefit.  For example, a beneficiary with a seven year old, who has another child, will be part-time work tested when their child turns one.  A sole parent of a 14 year old who has another child will return to a full-time work expectation after one year.

The Government recently increased funding for OSCAR services and further work is underway to ensure there is enough access for sole parents to Early Childhood Education services.

Supported Living Payment

The Supported Living Payment will include people currently on Invalid’s Benefit who have been assessed as permanently and severely restricted in their ability to work.

The new payment will also now include carers of people needing hospital level care (currently DPB – Care of Sick and Infirm).

For people who are disabled or whose ill health means they have limited prospects of working, the benefit remains the same.  This includes people who are permanently and severely disabled, severely mentally ill, or terminally ill.

Improved assessments will ensure that people who have some capacity for work, now or in the future will have work expectation depending on their assessment.

Improving work assessment and services for sick and disabled people will require different skills and expertise, for example occupational therapists and mental health professionals.

An expert Health and Disability panel has been established to provide advice on ways to strengthen employment assessments and services for people who are sick or disabled.

New incentives for people without work expectations

People on the new Sole Parent Support or Supported Living Payment who don’t have work expectations but go off benefit into work will be able to retain some of their benefit in the first few weeks.  The payment will reduce by $100 each week until it reduces to zero.

The payment recognises the additional barriers to work and the extra costs parents and sick and disabled people may face in the first few weeks of working.

New expectations for parents

All parents on benefit may also be expected to participate in work preparation, training, parenting or budgeting programmes regardless of whether they are expected to be available for work.  This will be backed by sanctions for non-compliance.

For parents of children aged 3-4 years, the focus will be on getting people ready for part-time work when their youngest child is 5 i.e. up-skilling programmes.

For expectant parents and parents of children under 3, they may be required to participate in budgeting or parenting programmes that will improve the wellbeing of their children.

New employment support and training services

A more diverse range of people having obligations requires a wider range of services.

Employment Services and supports will be targeted differently.  Instead of working mainly with Unemployment Benefit clients, everyone will get employment services.  However more resources will be targeted to those with the greatest risk of being on a benefit long term without such help.

We will be talking with service providers about how we can get different programmes that meet the different needs of unemployed people and those preparing for work.

This includes job training, search and placement support, increased money management and budgeting services, and more childcare and OSCAR services.

There will also be better access to health services, including drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Questions and Answers

Why is the Government reforming the welfare system?

There are about 328,000[1] working age people currently receiving a benefit inNew Zealand – that’s more than 12% of the working age population.

The benefit system now costs New Zealanders around $8 billion each year. On top of the financial cost is the very real social cost of benefit dependence. There are well established links between people receiving benefits and poverty, poor health, and many other poor social outcomes.

The Government wants more people to find work.

Will benefit rates be cut?

No, the rates will remain the same and continue to increase each year with inflation.  However as they do now, some people’s benefit payments may change slightly as they move into a new category, in the same way that transferring between benefits now affects a person’s payments.

When will the changes come into effect?

Legislation will be introduced early in 2012.  Changes will begin to be implemented from July 2012 and all changes will be in place by late 2013.

There are no immediate changes to the current system.

How many people will have work expectations under Jobseeker Support?

135,100 people will have work expectations under Jobseeker Support.  This includes:

  • Unemployment Beneficiaries – about 57,000
  • Sickness Beneficiaries – about 58,000 will be assessed and can receive a temporary exemption until they are able to work part or full-time.
  • Sole parents DPB whose youngest child is 14 years or older – about 11,000
  • Widow’s Beneficiaries and DPB Women Alone whose youngest child is 14 years or older, or who have no children – about 9,100.

How much is the reform going to cost and save over time?

These changes are expected to result in up to 46,000 fewer people on benefits and between 7,000 and 11,000 beneficiaries working part-time.  On top of that, the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Update also forecast around 20,000 fewer beneficiaries by June 2016 as the economy grows.  It is also expected that fewer people will come onto benefits as incentives and obligations change.  The reforms will cost $130 million a year, with an expected saving of $1 billion over four years.

Are there sufficient jobs for beneficiaries to go in to?

The number of people in jobs increased by nearly 43,000 jobs in the year to June 2011 and jobs advertised online increased by nearly 25% over the past year.  The global recession impacted on jobs, but the economy has now grown in eight of the past nine quarters.  The economy is expected to grow at an average of almost three percent a year over the next four years.

Will people lose their benefits because they can’t get a job?

No.  People are expected to be trying to get work and they will need to show what efforts they are making.  They will only face sanctions if they make no effort.

What sanctions apply to people who don’t meet their work obligations?

The same graduated sanctions will apply under the new system as they do now. Jobseekers will be expected to be available for and looking for work unless they have a temporary exemption.  Those who do not make the effort will face sanctions.

How will people be assessed if they are sick or disabled?

There will be a stronger focus on what people can do, not what they can’t do. Health professionals will provide information to allow Work and Income to determine what kind of work a person can do and how long they should be exempt from work expectations. Those who are permanently or severely disabled, severely mentally ill or terminally ill, will be fast tracked into Supported Living Payment.

An expert Health and Disability Panel has been established to provide specialist advice to MSD on developing new assessment processes.

Are you going to make people on Invalid’s Benefit move to Jobseeker Support?

People who are genuinely unable to work or whose ability to work is severely limited will continue to receive the Supported Living Payment. Most Invalid’s Beneficiaries have regular assessments, and people will only be moved if an assessment indicates they are able to work.

What if someone is too sick to look for work?

Medical professionals will still assess whether someone is too sick to work.  If that’s temporary, they will be exempted from work obligations while they are on Jobseeker Support until their Doctor says otherwise.  If their illness or disability is serious and permanent they will be fast tracked onto the Supported Living Payment.  Those who say they are too sick to work and that is not backed up by a doctor will face work obligations and sanctions if they fail to meet them, as a matter of fairness to taxpayers who fund this system.

How will exemptions work?

People on Jobseeker Support will be expected to be looking for and available for work, except where there is a temporary exemption. Individual circumstances will be taken into account.  Exemptions will vary to recognise a range of situations for example leaving a violent relationship, a bereavement or temporarily unable to work because of illness.

What is the Government doing about providing more childcare?

The part-time work expectation will apply to parents whose youngest child is aged five years.  This may affect the demand for Out of School Care and Recreation provision (OSCAR).  The Government has recently increased funding for OSCAR and changes are being made to make it easier for organisations to become OSCAR providers.

The Ministries of Social Development and Education are working on proposals to ensure that Early Childhood Education keeps pace with the expected increase in demand.

What is meant by a long term investment approach in welfare?

This is a new approach to welfare.  It is aimed at making long term costs transparent and investing upfront to improve employment results and reduce long term welfare dependency.  For example, with an investment approach, beneficiaries are assessed in relation to how long they are likely to remain on a benefit.  Decisions can then be taken as to which people would benefit most from specific early intervention support that is most likely to get them into work.  Achieving success with these beneficiaries will make a huge improvement in their lives as well as reducing welfare costs in the long term for taxpayers.


[1] Primary working age beneficiaries as at the end of June 2011.

An Open Letter to the Mental-Health & Disability Sector


Dear colleagues and networks

A global revolution of the people is taking place right now and with our sectors’ input, it could create just the kind of social conditions our community needs to empower all people to live flourishing lives. For this reason, we are actively supporting this movement in Auckland and we urge you to take part too.

As a key stakeholder in the Auckland mental-health and disabilities sector, you probably already know that we have the highest rate of youth suicide in the developed world and that our youth are more likely to die from suicide than any other cause. Almost 50% of our community faces mental health problems in their life-times and only 16.9% of us have access to specialised treatment. Despite this, our government has removed mental health from the nation’s health priorities and cut funding to core mental health services across the country and we have all been feeling the effects. The Occupy movement is a revolution against this governmental shift away from the wellbeing of our communities and onto the wellbeing of big business. The movement’s impact depends entirely on the people who take part and it makes sense for the mental-health and disability sector to take part.

You probably won’t have heard about Occupy in the media, but information is widespread on social media networks. The movement has spread across the globe since thousands of Americans occupied Wall Street in New York on September 17th to collaborate in peaceful protest. In multitudes of cities across the world, communities have occupied their public spaces to peacefully demand that their governments take care of the interests of ordinary people (the 99%), over the interests of big business (the 1%). Each Occupation has set up a daily General Assembly that practices consensus decision-making that allows everyone present to be part of deciding what the local issues are and how they should be resolved. Absolutely everyone in the community is invited to participate in the daily General Assembly and have their perspective represented in the process.

In Auckland on October 15th two thousand people from all walks of life marched down Queen Street and occupied Aotea Square. Many are still there and they need our support if they are to achieve a meaningful result.

There are three ways that you or your organisation can join the Occupy movement to bring mental-health and disability issues into the picture and stand up for the human rights of the 99%.

  1. Outreach: Help the movement reach the public by visiting the occupation and adding yourself to the count. You don’t have to camp, though you are welcome to. A lot of people have jobs and family commitments and can only make it down for a few hours every couple of days. Every single body counts and there are so many things to be done that you or your organisation can help with. Anyone can join a working group or put a proposal to the General Assembly. The more diverse the occupiers are the better – every voice needs to be represented so that the consensus reached is a meaningful one with numbers behind it.
  2. Education:  Share your knowledge with the occupiers by presenting a Learn Session on-site in the occupation. Not only is this an excellent way for you to spread your message amongst an incredibly diverse group of people, it is also an excellent way to help equip the occupiers with the knowledge they need to inspire positive change in New Zealand.
  3. Public Support: Show that you support the movement by publishing a Statement of Solidarity with the local Occupy movement, like this one. If you don’t have time to make your own Statement of Solidarity, simply forward this letter amongst your own networks. You might also like to publish witness accounts of what is happening at the camp and how the lives of the extremely diverse occupiers have changed for the better since participating in their communities through the Occupy movement.

This movement is about more than politics – it is about people uniting for a better world – and in the camps, a model of that better world is being played out. I have seen firsthand people meeting people they would not otherwise meet – and they are learning from each other. I have seen all people feeling included, people volunteering and participating, people finding comfort in each other, building a safe space and finding value in work and rediscovering their own skill-sets, people healing each other, all at Occupy Auckland.

Come to Aotea Square and experience it for yourself. General Assemblies are daily at 6pm. Learn Session days and times vary and are posted on the information board. A welcome tent holds all of the information you need and a friendly person to fill you in.

Sincerely in solidarity with Occupy Auckland

Miriam Larsen-Barr

Engage Aotearoa

This letter and the perspectives contained therein were unanimously approved by the Occupy Auckland General Assembly on 27 October 2011 at Aotea Square.


September-October 2011 Issue of Chatters

The September-October issue of Chatters is out from the crew at Crossroads Clubhouse. This bi-monthly newsletter is packed full of information and opinions. Turn to page 6 for a letter to the editor from our very own service director, Miriam Larsen-Barr, about where Engage Aotearoa got its name.

Click to open the September-October 2011 Issue of Chatters

Free South Auckland Shuttle Services

The Manukau East Council of Social Services (MECOSS) and Counties Manukau District Health Board  have several transport initiatives to help people access medical care and other social services in the Manukau Community.

Find the patient and shopping shuttle information by clicking on the pdf links below:


Free Online Seminars for Young Adults & Parents

Free Webinars for Teens, Young Adults & Their Parents

A webinar is an online seminar, but instead of going to a conference room somewhere you can take part from the comfort of your home, office or local library – anywhere that there is a computer with internet access!

These sessions are brought to you by a company called MIOMO, which stands for ‘Making It On My Own’. MIOMO is all about empowering young New Zealanders with the skills they need to live flourishing, independent lives.

Webinar 1 – From Mistakes to Maturity!

Monday 17th October 7:30- 8:30pm

Mistakes can make us or break us. Learn how to turn bad decisions into great character. Understand the process for healing self-esteem, regaining confidence and restoring relationships.

Webinar 2 – Prepare your World for 2012

Tuesday 25th October 7:30- 8:30pm

Leaving school is an exciting but challenging time. Teens need new skills and the mindset to be competitive and successful in the adult world.

Learn what has to change and how to go about it so the whole family is happy!

Presented by:

Yvonne Godfrey – Young Adult expert & Founder of MIOMO

(10 Day Live-in course on independent living for 17 -24 year olds)

To register for these FREE webinars go to: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/346575465

For more info on Miomo or the Webinarswww.miomo.co.nz

Call Yvonne on 09 413 9777 or 027 249 5444

Major Changes Announced at RCNet

Connect Newslitt | Special Edition

This is a copy of the September 30th 2011 Special Edition from Regional Consumer Network. Read on for three exciting job opportunities.


  • New Directions
  • Advertisements for Network Positions

 Kia ora, and welcome to the Connect Newslitt

 Phone 09 623 1762


This is a special edition of the Newslitt designed to inform people regarding some valuable changes to the Regional Consumer Network and to let you know how you can be involved.

The Regional Consumer Network service provides information on mental health to the general public including people who experience mental health issues. The Network also provides opportunities for people meet up, network and exchange information and share ideas. It represents the views of people who use the services at forums and meetings where decisions are made about mental health and addiction services. The Network also provides a resource room with a library for people to use. These are the main purposes of the Network though there are other smaller tasks undertaken by the Network staff.

The Regional Consumer Network is now entering a new phase of its development. The environment is one of funding reviews, efficiency demands, calls for collaborations and back-office function-sharing, and working smarter with less.

With this in mind, the Board of the Council for Mental Well-Being has responded to the challenges and its own mission to provide the best quality service for its members by restructuring itself to be a more responsive and technologically advanced information and community-linked collective advocacy and leadership service.

To do this, some big changes are needed. Some of these you will hear about as they are put in place. All changes are designed to develop a better service that responds to its members and the expectation to provide more evidence that the service is a valuable investment of tax-payers money. These include:

  • providing a more technological service through its upgraded website
  • respond to feedback from its members through the Satisfaction Survey
  • The Trust Board have identified a new way forward for the Network that will ensure the Network is more responsive and provides the right information, to the right person/people and at the right time

The new strategic plan and vision will be available on the website shortly and your feedback will be welcomed. The Board have contracted the services of a business development consultant to explore these new directions.

The most significant change recently has been to disestablish the current Network positions. New contract positions and roles are needed to move in the strategic new direction and build on the great work the Network staff and members have achieved. The Board believes the new positions are necessary to drive the new direction, and take the Network into the current and future changing environment in the mental health and addictions sector. This means that the current staff roles have to come to an end and new positions have been developed to meet this need.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation goes to Gary, Fleur and Miles for the work that they have done over recent years. They have made a valuable contribution to the service ensuring that the Network has maintained a good regional perspective and profile, working hard to produce the Newslitt and holding the forums and events. Gary, Fleur and Miles have all worked hard on building relationships within the sector and the work they have done has paved the way for new ideas and new ways of doing things.

In the mean time you can still contact Fleur and Claire at the Network on 623 1762 for all Network requirements.

If you would like to speak to the Chairperson of the Council for Mental Well-Being Trust contact Dean Manley Ph 021 529 277.

The advertisements for the new positions at the Network are included in this Newslitt and everyone is entitled to apply for these positions.

Project Manager – Regional Consumer Network

The Regional Consumer Network – Auckland’s key Network for mental health service users, is seeking a skilled Project Manager for a 3 month fixed term agreement. Recent changes in the organisation have resulted in the need to focus on achieving key strategies over the next few months. A key priority will be ensuring the organisation is well placed to secure future funding.

Our ideal candidate will be an experienced leader of projects and demonstrate the ability to organise people, time, and resources to achieve strategic goals. As this is a membership organisation, a willingness and commitment to engaging with members is vital.

Ideally the applicant will also be able demonstrate business development experience and act on business opportunities which arise during the course of this project.

The role also requires the day to day leadership of the project team. An understanding of and appreciation for the use of IT in communications is highly desirable. Skills in all aspects of Microsoft office are required, along with good communication skills in person and in writing. A drivers licence is essential

The person we seek is also able to demonstrate an understanding of and affinity with lived experience of mental illness. Service delivery in this organisation honours the Treaty of Waitangi and working in partnership with Maori.

This is a full-time position. Please forward your CV and a covering letter, including which position you are applying for to: edit@activeworklife.com Ph 021 0327223 by 17th Oct, 2011 

Communications Developer – Regional Consumer Network

The Regional Consumer Network – Auckland’s key Network for mental health service users, is seeking a skilled Communications Developer for a 3 month fixed term agreement. Recent changes in the organisation have resulted in the need to focus on achieving key strategies over the next few months.

Supporting the Project Manager, the Communications Developer is accountable for connecting with members in meaningful and measurable ways to ensure that their views and needs are understood and are being met. This role develops effective and efficient methods for interacting with members using technology such as social media, the website, email and other methods such as forums.

This role requires someone with excellent interpersonal and communication skills and the ability to network with people effectively. Self motivation and the ability to complete tasks unsupervised will be vital. The successful applicant will assist in developing plans and projects to achieve networking goals. An understanding of data gathering and analysis would be useful.

A drivers licence is essential, as is capable Microsoft Office computer skills.

The person we seek is also able to demonstrate an understanding of and affinity with lived experience of mental illness. Service delivery in this organisation honours the Treaty of Waitangi and working in partnership with Maori.

This is a 32hr (.8) position.  Please forward your CV and a covering letter, including which position you are applying for to:  edit@activeworklife.com Ph 021 0327223 by 17th Oct, 2011 

Website/Database Developer

The Regional Consumer Network – Auckland’s key Network for mental health service users, is seeking a skilled Website/Database Developer for a 3 month fixed term agreement. Recent changes in the organisation have resulted in the need to focus on achieving key strategies over the next few months.

Supporting the Project Manager, the Website/Database Developer is accountable for ensuring that the RCN website and database are developed, maintained and secured in a manner which best meets member needs.  The Developer will be asked to develop a specific project plan for the website and the database. The applicant will need to be able to demonstrate that they have experience in creating and managing websites and databases using appropriate technology in a professional and standard manner, which enables ease of access and security.

The Developer will also be able to document their work clearly and report regularly on progress. The ability to work and communicate effectively with a small, dedicated team will be critical. A drivers licence is essential.

The person we seek is also able to demonstrate an understanding of and affinity with lived experience of mental illness. Service delivery in this organisation honours the Treaty of Waitangi and working in partnership with Maori.

This is a 32hr (.8) position. Please forward your CV and a covering letter, including which position you are applying for to: edit@activeworklife.com Ph 021 0327223 by 17th Oct, 2011