HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Northern Group feedback on Social Welfare benefits

Consultations for the ADB Social Welfare Report started in the Northern Group November 2011. Ministry of Internal Affairs Program Manager Debbie Ave said “carrying out a national consultation in the Northern Group is not always an achievable accomplishment, due to irregular shipping, flights and boats to the more remote Islands of the Cook Islands like Parmati and Nassau. The ideal chance to complete this mission came as a result of the Census trip on Te Kukapa last year. It was an unforgettable experience with Baxter and the crew of the Te Kukapa sailing around the Northern Group Islands, allowing me to feedback the recommendations from the independent ADB Social Welfare Report to those communities who are often excluded from opportunities to participate in this process by distance and accessibility. It was important they were able to have their say in this consultation as small Island economies with minimal capacity for long – term sustainable development are particularly reliant on the incomes received from Social Welfare Benefits. The feedback from the Northern group varied from Island to Island, individual to individual, for some Islands the need to consider compulsory retirement for Public Servants at 60 was really important, particularly for those who held jobs and were receiving an old age benefit, this would allow employment opportunities to open for the younger generation who had had returned from overseas educated and wanting to contribute to building the capacity on their islands.
Discussions on increasing the age of eligibility to 65 years drew a mixed response with some comments being that it was ok to wait to 65 to claim, if you are still working, but give the benefit to those who had no jobs at 60; while others thought that everyone should get the benefit at 60 no matter whether they had a job or not, we earned it, it is our right.
Child, Infirmed and Destitute Benefits, new born allowance, funeral assistance, power subsidies and the Christmas allowance all warranted an active debate with a wide range of responses. The national consultation process is now nearing completion with Mauke this week, followed by Mangaia and Mitiaro to round off the Outer Islands. Four meetings out of the scheduled 8 meetings in Rarotonga will be completed by the 3oth of March. This national consultation was funded by the ADB – Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction under the Social Protection for the Vulnerable in the Pacific Program.

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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