Friday, June 22, 2012

More patronising twaddle from the Minister

While we don't want to dwell on the numerous idiotic blatherings emanating from the Beehive in these trying times, occasionally something so beserk is let loose into the media wilderness that comment really is warranted.
One such blather has come from Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. This is the announcement of a toolkit for grandparents raising children. Not an actual toolkit with actual tools (although that would probably be more use) but a metaphorical toolkit in the form of a DVD.
Now stop and think about this. The target audience is grandparents. This suggests they've brought up one lot of kids and for any number of reasons now find themselves with another. But having done this once, you'd think they'd have a few clues, right?
Well, not according to the Minister. This latest spasm of government generosity involves a DVD featuring (and try to curb your enthusiasm, people) Alison Holst, Bob Kerridge and Pio Terei. Now I'm assuming this is to show grandparents how to cook, look after the cat/dog/guinea pig, and be caring Dads. Because if no one tells them, how will they know? 

But even better, gushes the Minister, at a mere $600,000 this is extremely good value for money. If Nanna and Grandad have a DVD player. And they can be arsed taking time out to watch it. And if they don't feel insulted by the whole concept. Then yes, it's great value for money.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the grandparents raising grandchildren have their own support trust, and among their other stirling work put together a submission to the government's Green Paper on Vulnerable Children. Chapter 2 lists what they identify as key issues. They are:
  • ongoing financial stress.They note "the precarious financial state" of many grandparents. A survey for a 2005 study found total family income being "less than $20,000 p.a. for 22% of respondents and less than $30,000 for 25% of respondents. Solo carers, who represented 38.6% of participants, were particularly financially compromised." 
  • grandparents have very diverse needs. Many feel unsupported and are reluctant to engage with Child Youth and Family. The submission also highlights the "rude" culture at Work and Income.
  • legal aid creating further financial hardship and other difficulties. This includes lack of access to reliable legal advice, difficulty in obtaining and then repaying legal aid, and the cost of legal proceedings.
  • accessing information and the lack of links between government departments.
  • educational progress of the children, including children with special needs.
  • housing issues including difficulty paying rent, overcrowding, and having to sell the house to pay legal and other costs.
None of these issues seems to be able to be dealt with by a DVD featuring Famous People. Perhaps the Minister should do something practical and start addressing the culture within her own department. Or have a cup of tea with the GRG Trust and ask how to provide some real help, including financial help in some circumstances if necessary. But no, instead we have this nonsense. We think the 5,000 grandparents should get one of those hammers that's also a bottle opener. At a mere $11.99 from Mitre 10, that's value for money.