NZ Herald social issues reporter Simon Collins does a great job of seeking out 'real' people. And his statistics have integrity. Here are some characters from today's article about the new rule that will work-test mothers who add a baby to their benefit when that child turns one. If you read the full article and get to the objections bear in mind that the work required could be a little as 15 hours a week so hardly represents a wrenching child-mother separation issue. (I started a business when my first child was 6 months old. Luckily I had the help of my mum when needing to visit prospective customers. My devotion to my baby - now a very stable and well-adjusted 18 year-old - was no less. There might be exceptional cases but the legislation provides for discretion to waive the rule anyway.)
Tough welfare reforms now going through Parliament may deter
some women from seeing the sole parent benefit as a viable lifestyle -
but at the risk of long-term harm to their children. Social issues
reporter Simon Collins reports
Otara administrator Delaney Papua, who turns 20 next month and is
expecting her first baby in November, says going on the benefit seems to
be just what you do when you get pregnant.
"All the people that I know that have kids go on it, so I kind of just assumed that you have to be on that," she says.
The babies' fathers often have no role in the families they help create,
giving them no anchor in society. Papua doesn't expect her baby's
father to support her....
Melanie Hoto, 33, worked in a lunch bar on the North Shore and then at a
fish market in Tauranga but eventually ended up on the DPB.
"I came back to Auckland and lost interest [in work]. It was so hard
trying to find work. I even applied to work here at McDonald's," she
says over a hot chocolate at McDonald's in Glen Innes.
"In the end I fell pregnant with my daughter and I thought, 'I get a good amount of money on the benefit, why bother working?"'
Her partner "was never in the picture".
"It was a one-night stand," she says. "He's in jail now for robbing a
shop. He was into drugs - a lot of people are into it, it's easy cash."
Another woman, Renee, became pregnant with a flatmate while on the
benefit when her first two children were 8 and 5, and says it "was never
a boyfriend/girlfriend thing". She also thinks the new law is "fair".
"If the law had been in place, I just would have been probably more cautious," she says.
At another McDonald's recently, she overheard two young mothers with
babies talking about how they were trying to get pregnant again.
"I'm loving this benefit shit," one said. "I'm going to have another baby, I'll keep having them, it's free money."
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