All the amazing things the ActionStation community helped make happen in August

This budding movement is a broad tent of fair-minded people who want to get good things done.

It’s our shared values, plus a willingness to act, that makes someone an ‘ActionStation kind of person’. Not your age, income, postcode, party politics or ethnic background.

This email is a highlight reel of the incredible activity that has been happening around this growing community of 180,000 awesome humans throughout August. Enjoy!

We’re working with young people to help get more young people out to vote this election!

RockEnrol volunteers at a hui in Auckland.

It’s true that a problem shared is a problem halved. Two heads are better than one. Two is company. Many hands make light work.

That’s why ActionStation has partnered with non-partisan, youth-led community campaign group RockEnrol for this year’s election sprint.

RockEnrol’s aim is to electrify the power of young voters in New Zealand by combining community organising, the power of the internet and popular culture. They helped increase the youth vote (18–24) from 42% in 2011 to 63% in 2014.

We will be working together to help RockEnrol get young people the policy analysis they need to make an informed decision come voting day. We’ll also be working together to create a series of social videos encouraging young people to get out and vote with the issues of clean rivers, better mental health, te reo Māori in schools, equal pay and warm, dry homes for all in mind this election.

Chip in to help us get more young people out to vote this election!

Our People’s Review of Renting is making waves

Our crowdsourced and crowdfunded report from our People’s Review of Renting.

We should all be able to live in a warm, dry, affordable home. It’s time for all political parties to up their game and make that happen.

That’s why we teamed up with Renters United and spent the last couple of months collecting over 600 powerful stories of people’s experience of renting. These stories have the ability to shift the debate and put the human face on the stats that MPs love to debate.

Last week we released our report from the People’s Review of Renting. You can read the full report and sign the open letter calling for the bold recommendations to be adopted.

One of our aims with this campaign was to put the stories of people renting front and centre of the housing debate. We’re achieving that. Our report, and the stories within it, has been covered by 1 News, Newshub, New Zealand Herald, Stuff, Otago Daily Times, and Radio New Zealand, amongst many others.

But media coverage alone won’t fix the issue. We need to show all the political parties vying for our votes this election that people who rent deserve better. Sign our open letter.

We’re supporting people on the front-lines to do valuable and life-saving work for women

Laura (ActionStation) meeting with Uma (left) and Nima (right) from Shakti Women’s Refuge to hand over our $500 donation.

Shakti Women’s Refuge provides critical and lifesaving services to New Zealand’s Asian, African and Middle Eastern migrant/refugee community.

They provide refuge centres, a 24/7 crisis line, and drop-in-centres in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Tauranga and Dunedin. Until very recently, they did so without government funding.

We helped Shakti launch a petition calling on the government to fund the provision of their important life saving services, and on Friday 18 August, the Ministry of Social Development offered to fund the $50,000 operating shortfall for the Wellington refuge centre. It’s a one-off gift, as opposed to ongoing funding, but it’s a step in the right direction!

Here’s what Nishhza from Shakti had to say:

“We cannot express the extent of our gratitude to ActionStation and ActionStation supporters who have shown Shakti such kind and generous support through our fight to Save Shakti Wellington Refuge. We launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund the operational costs of the refuge in May, and in under a month raised over $10,000! We also received amazing support from ActionStation who together with their supporters put together a further $500 to donate towards our Wellington Refuge.”

Click here to make a donation to Shakti.

We’re working with experts in innovative ways to illustrate what life is really like for families on a low-income

Do you remember reading ‘Choose your own adventure’ or ‘Pick a path’ books?

Alongside the Morgan Foundation and Chewy Data, we’ve launched a tool that is like that, except it’s designed to help you better understand what life is like for families on low incomes in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Paid work is frequently seen as the solution for families on low incomes. But what research clearly shows is that policy focused on driving low-income parents into paid work is actually harming children and driving up poor outcomes, the opposite of what good policy should achieve.

In the tool, you are asked to make choices for a couple called Liz and Sam who have a young child with a new a baby on the way. Liz and Sam both work — just as most low-income families in New Zealand do. But by taking time to interact with the real-life choices Liz and Sam are faced with on a daily basis, you will get a good idea of the challenges families like theirs face in terms of work and debt (and food and health).

These families don’t need pity. What they need are people to understand the complex factors at play in their lives and they need people in government to choose what really works.

Take a look at the tool and share it with friends.

We’re shining a light on tax fraudsters with giant street posters

ActionStation supporter Anita with our poster on Queen Street in Auckland (left) and volunteer Gemma on Cuba Street in Wellington (right).

Green MP Metiria Turei recently started a conversation about what it is like to live on the benefit in our country. But instead of a discussion about the policies that could actually improve the lives of the poorest people in our country, we had a relentless media focus on Metiria herself and almost no coverage on the billions we lose each year to tax cheats. That hardly seems fair.

We decided to shine a light on the real problem, which is not solo mums on the benefit, but wealthy elite tax cheats robbing our schools and hospitals for their personal gain.

Our crowdfunded and people-powered street posters that highlight the difference between tax fraud ($1.24 billion) and welfare fraud ($30 million) are now up in more than 50 prominent locations across Auckland and Wellington. We have activists in Christchurch and Dunedin who are putting up posters in their area too.

$1.24 billion is a hard number to get your head around if you don’t happen to be a billionaire, so let’s look at what it could buy in terms of government spending.

$1 billion could:

  • Put a mental health counsellor in every secondary school ($221m)
  • Build 500 new houses ($300m)
  • Build 200 new classrooms ($100m)
  • Pay 750 new teachers for a year ($375m)

Please chip in so we can create more important content (such as social videos) on this issue.

We’ve helped make mental health an election issue

Our crowdfunded billboards in the Health Minister’s electorate reminding him how many New Zealanders want a mental health inquiry.

Last year we asked the ActionStation community which issues needed to be on the election agenda but were likely to be ignored without our collective action. One answer came back loud and clear: mental health.

So we launched our People’s Mental Health Review, asking people who had experience using, trying to access or working in our public mental health services to tell us about their experiences. In April this year we published our People’s Mental Health Report, putting mental health into the headlines every day for weeks on end.

Within a month, polls started to show mental health was one of the top five issues people saw as important for this election.

A week ago, with just over a month to go until our general election the National-led government announced a plan to increase mental health funding by $100 million.

The next day, the Labour party announced a policy package which would boost mental health funding by $193 million.

Our People’s Mental Health Review made it clear that improving mental health services in New Zealand will take more than money, but for the people who are currently desperate for mental health services, either of these boosts in funding could be life-changing, if not life-saving.

All of this was possible because people like you shared their stories, donated money, volunteered time on the review, shared the report with their friends and signed the open letter.

Alone, it is easy to feel helpless in the face of the big, complex challenges facing our country. But together, we can — and do — make a positive difference.

We’re supporting high school students in their campaign for better sex education

At Parliament, from left: Chris Bishop (National), Jan Logie (Greens), Grant Robertson (Labour), Ruby Medlicott, Lauren Jack, Jenny Salesa (Labour), Ruth Dyson (Labour).

We supported high school students Lauren Jack and Ruby Medlicott to put the call for better sex education back in the national news.

Lauren and Ruby presented their petition at Parliament with 5708 signatures with support from fellow students. Their demand for better sex education around consent and healthy relationships ensured the Minister for Education Nikki Kaye heard the message. It gained cross-party political support and was reported by 1 News, Dominion Post, Radio New Zealand, Newshub, among others.

While the Minister believes the Government is doing enough, she commended the campaigners. “We need more young women like them prepared to stand up and call out behaviour that is inappropriate, disrespectful and above all, wrong,” she was reported as saying.

Her fellow National MP Chris Bishop was supportive of the cause however and said that he looked forward to it being debated and discussed in Parliament. “The reality is there are too many young people coming through our school system who think that sexual violence is acceptable and consent education is a really important part of that.”

MP Grant Robertson tabled the petition at Parliament officially it will be discussed at a select committee, the group of MPs looking at different topics, after the election.

Lauren started her campaign on OurActionStation and we’ve been able to help her at each step in the campaign. If you would like to contribute a small amount on a weekly or fortnightly basis to enable us to support more campaigns like Lauren’s, click here.

We helped Erica deliver the biggest petition of the year — to replace Mike Hosking

Community campaigner Erica Finnie talking to TVNZ Head of News John Gillespie and the media outside the TVNZ building this week.

When post graduate student Erica Finnie saw the news that TVNZ had again selected Mike Hosking to moderate their Election Debates she felt so angry she immediately started a campaign to pressure TVNZ to remove him.

Mike Hosking is known for being over-opinionated and consistently socially irresponsible. As moderator he could have an undue influence in such a major event in the Election.

Erica says “We know it’s not how he actually performs in the debates. It’s who he is as a person and what he represents. This is the bias that I’m worried about.”

She got over 20,000 petition signatures in two days; she mobilised supporters to write and send over 3300 emails directly to Head of News and Current Affairs, John Gillespie; and hundreds of people to post on the TVNZ Facebook page.

We supported Erica all the way and this week helped her deliver the petition, which combined with another by Kyle Sutherland of Wake Up NZ, reached 76,491 signatures — the biggest petition this year. The ActionStation community got behind her and chipped in to help make it happen; the giant Mike Hosking prop was created in just three days and featured in the news stories.

The signatures alone may not move TVNZ but Hosking has been put on notice to be on his best behaviour during the Debates. And Erica has given a voice to how so many of us felt and empowered thousands of Kiwis to take part in her campaign!

Erica started her petition on OurActionStation. If there’s an issue close to your heart you’d like to campaign on, you can start your campaign here.

18,553 of us stood up for kiwi

The petition delivery event on Parliament steps — with MP Eugenie Sage, students from Tuia te Matangi school, and the ActionStation team.

We delivered a petition to protect one of our most endangered birds, the Haast Tokoeka kiwi. It was signed by 18,553 New Zealanders from all around the country and called on the Conservation Minister to stop the proposed pipeline through its sanctuary, the one place in the world they are found.

The delivery sparked renewed coverage of the issue by media. Laura talked on Morning Report about the dangers of the proposed pipeline and this Stuff report gives a great overview of the day and the campaign.

Green Party MP and Spokesperson for the Environment Eugenie Sage accepted and officially tabled the petition at Parliament and it will be discussed by MPs after the Election.

Students from Tuia te Matangi, a bilingual Māori-English school from Nelson, gave us the power of their voices on the day, helping make it a special event — you can watch how it unfolded in this short video.

We supported survivors of domestic violence call for justice

Community in Action walk through central Wellington on their way to deliver the Open Letter at Parliament.

New Zealand has the highest domestic violence rates in the developed world.

Community in Action (CIA), a group of women with personal experience of domestic violence and serious failures of the Family Court, believe the whole Family Court system needs to be reviewed.

In 2016, over 60,000 cases went through the Family Courts, and of those, over 6,800 children were involved in cases initiated under the Domestic Violence Act. For many the process is traumatic.

CIA is asking for the Family Court system to be made transparent, accountable and safe for families, especially where domestic violence is involved.

We supported the call for an inquiry and hosted the Open Letter to MPs on the OurActionStation site.

To present the Letter they made a brave and powerful statement by walking through central Wellington in the rain in silence, symbolising how some have had no voice in the system. They wore black clothing and pare kawakawa (mourning wreaths) to signify the grief and trauma due to the loss of children from family violence and the Family Court system.

To follow their campaign you can still sign the Open Letter and show your support.

Lastly, next Wednesday 6 September we are launching our crowd-sourced vision for the future of our country, Te Ira Tāngata: People’s Agenda for Aotearoa.

For the past eight weeks, members of the ActionStation community have been contributing to our people-powered vision at more than 100 Kai & Kōrero lunches and dinners nationwide. We’ve also gathered insights from the more than 45,000 responses we’ve received from members of this community in surveys over the past three years. And we’ve been consulting with experts, creatives and tangata whenua to pull it together into a cohesive plan for the future of Aotearoa.

Te Ira Tāngata will outline our community’s vision for the future of New Zealand, the values that need to underpin our society to get there, and the policies that will pave the way for us to realise our shared vision.

We’ll also be releasing 12 scorecards that compare the political party’s vision and policy plans against ours to help you, and people you know, make an informed decision come Sep 23.

We’ve been working incredibly hard on this Agenda and we’re so excited for you to see it Wednesday 6 September.

Until then, take care of yourself and others and we hope you have a lovely weekend.

Marianne, Laura, Rick, Eliot, Elaine, Felix, Roxanne, Kat, Kate, Ann, Silvia, Vim and Ta’ase — your (slightly larger due to the election) ActionStation team.

P.S. As a completely independent, people-powered community, every dollar you give funds game-changing campaigns for the New Zealand we believe in. Being funded by you, and independent of corporate, government or political party funding, is essential to our ability to campaign on the issues you care about, whether or not the powers-that-be are happy about it. Please chip in today if you can.

We work together to create a society where people and planet are more important than profit and Te Tiriti o Waitangi is honoured.

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