The Government just announced beneficiary and low-income working families will get a boost of up to $25 a week as part of a child hardship package. It’s not enough, and it has come with some major strings attached*, but it is the first increase in core benefits, apart from inflations adjustments, since 1972 and will affect 110,000 families.

You helped make this happen.

Today I opened the ActionStation inbox and I read this message:

“Thanks ActionStation. You have enabled widespread involvement in our efforts to build political will for solutions to child poverty. It’s been great to have the support of the ActionStation community, with smart online campaigning tactics. We will need to keep campaigning to get the change needed for children - and all New Zealanders have a part to play in this. So, we look forward to continuing to build popular involvement in this work. We need you!”

- Deborah, UNICEF New Zealand

And I realise that this is only the beginning. Our goal with this petition was to ensure that child poverty was at the heart of discussion in the lead up to today’s Budget and to hold the Government to account for their election promise. And by those measures, this campaign has been a success. Together, we put child poverty at the front. John Key was forced to answer difficult questions on the Paul Henry show [1] and Bill English was forced to address benefit levels in the Budget itself. [2]

Yesterday, when Marama Fox, the Co-Leader of the Māori Party received our 16,000+ petition to #endpovertynz she thanked our community and all our partner organisations for our collective efforts, saying that our actions had helped her negotiate for more for kids in this Budget.

The Government are already caving under public pressure on housing and we need to continue building our movement to end child poverty. While this Budget doesn't do nearly enough for kids in poverty, your efforts helped make it impossible for them to do nothing. Inch by inch we can and will shift the debate on child poverty in NZ. Only a mass movement of people can do that.

Our community is now over 79,000 strong, hailing from every corner of NZ. In our democracy and in our economy there are countless ways that we can club together our creativity, resources and vision to find new ways to change things.

We’ll all work together to decide our next steps. The full range of options will be virtually unlimited. We could crowdfund the research to put forward an alternative budget for 2016 put together by credible experts from across the field. We could build an alternative media channel and tell different and new stories. We can challenge big brands to do more with our consumer power.

We can come up with big new ideas for improving our country that reach beyond what any of the political parties are currently willing to discuss.

Thank you for being part of this. It’s so inspiring to work with you all. I know we can make real the “change needed for children” which Deborah talks about. It might take a while, but together we’ll get there.

With thanks, love and respect,

Laura on behalf of the ActionStation team.

*Most sole parents and partners of beneficiaries will have to be available for part-time work when their youngest child turns three, rather than five and all beneficiaries with part-time work will be expected to find 20 hours a week rather than the current 15.

~ References ~

  1. “John Key talks about his new capital gains tax” Paul Henry Show
  2. “Budget 2015: How it affects you” Audrey Young, NZ Herald

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