Govt urged to consider Whakamana Tāngata solutions for welfare system

By D'Angelo Martin

A welfare advisory group is calling on cabinet to provide an update on the Whakamana Tāngata report which provided clear recommendations to improve the system for Māori. 

Advisory group member and paediatric specialist Innes Asher says "Although [the report] was about the welfare system, all its principles apply to all people in New Zealand, people who are supported by income support benefits of working age, they are in greater depths of poverty in this country."

The report was given to cabinet in March, offering simple recommendations that could be of a solution to the current welfare system. 

"The Whakamana Tāngata report that was produced by the welfare advisory group has been in the public domain since May and it's very very frustrating and disappointing that we're not seeing any sort of action," says Asher.

The purpose of the welfare system is to ensure a dignified life by "providing financial security and social security sufficient for an adequate standard of living" in addition to supporting people to achieve their potential through appropriate work.

"A total of 42 recommendations were consolidated following 112 small detailed recommendations each of which will play a part in making things a lot better," says Asher.

A fixed welfare system would extend to the health system as families wouldn't have to worry about the health implications of poor quality housing.

"I see a lot of children with severe breathing problems ... respiratory diseases where their lungs are either sick or damaged.  The parents themselves tell me 'the house is making my child sick' and I completely agree with them." 

At the Indigenous Nursing Conference, kaiwhakahaere of Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa Kerri Nuku says the government needs to do more when it comes equal outcomes for both Māori and Pākeha in the health sector.

"The impact of colonisation ... fast forward to 2019 we see a lot of our Māori that are dying far too young due to non-compatible diseases ... diseases that are preventable".

Te Ao has approached cabinet for an update and are yet to receive a response.