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A fair and just social welfare system benefits us all.
No one really experiences prosperity when some of the members of our human family are suffering.
- New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, 2008
Between 1984 and 1999, New Zealand was a world leader in the growth of inequality between rich and poor.
Work is a fundamental source of social and economic wellbeing, but not all members of our society are able to participate in the workforce. New Zealand has a heritage of social welfare for those unable to work due to unemployment, sickness, disability, old age or care for dependent relatives.
Today there are political calls to restructure our social welfare system. While recognising the need for review, Caritas continues to speak out for the involvement of beneficiaries and the wider community in its restructuring.
In April 2012, Caritas highlighted a flawed consultation process and unnecessary punitive changes around youth welfare reforms, in its submission to Parliament. The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference also issued a statement in response to controversy over contraception proposals in the planned reforms.
Caritas was a member of the group that commissioned the Alternative Welfare Working Group in 2010, along with the Social Justice Commission of the Anglican Church and the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation of New Zealand. The Alternative Welfare Working Group produced two reports:
In November 2011, Caritas' Research and Advocacy Co-ordinator Lisa Beech spoke on 'Poverty and inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand'. Read the speech here.