October’s monthly bouquet of hope

What the ActionStation community achieved in September 2018

We hope you enjoy reading about the amazing activities happening this last four weeks across the ActionStation community and beyond — for a fairer, more just and beautiful future.

Our report on justice is making headlines all around the country

Earlier this month, we launched our community-powered and collaborative research report on Māori perspectives on the justice system. It has been covered by NZ Herald, RNZ, TVNZ, The Hui, Newstalk ZB, Newshub and more.

This report was crowdfunded into the world by 163 people who donated an average gift of $36 each and features the perspectives of over 900 Māori who participated in the study. 20 fourth year medical students did the analysis and five amazing volunteers helped set up and run our launch event — a true people-powered effort!

Our report calls for three big solutions to our justice crisis:

  1. Early intervention e.g. fully funded, culturally appropriate and accessible social services, great education and wrap around support that includes whānau and is based on tikanga.
  2. A kinder, fairer economy that ensures everyone has enough income to live with dignity.
  3. Crown support and funding of hapū and iwi-led solutions and alternatives to the current justice system.

You can read the report in full here. It is a PDF, please email madeleine@actionstation.org.nz if you want a Word version. Alternatively, you can read the Executive Summary at E-Tangata here.

We’re calling for sexual harm prevention, treatment and support services to be fully-funded

Linley is a writer and for the past two months she has been volunteering her time for ActionStation to help us end sexual violence in Aotearoa for good.

Linley has been investigating what’s working and what isn’t in the sexual harm prevention, treatment and support sector and this month, she looked at a problem that besets many social service agencies: partial funding.

Government funding just doesn’t meet the full cost of services, and isn’t increased to keep pace with rising demand for services. It’s an astonishing read and one we hope you’ll share widely with friends and whānau.

Click here to read Linley’s blog and sign the petition.

We’re sharing our vision of a future where te reo Māori flourishes and taking action to make it happen

During Te Wiki o te reo Māori (Māori Language Week) 857 of us wove our voices, ideas and inspiration together to make a joint submission to the government about how they can help te reo Māori to flourish.

We made the submission as part of the government’s consultation on the Māori Language Revitalisation strategy 2018–2023.

You can read our submission in full here: Let’s ensure te reo Māori flourishes. It’s a PDF so please email eliot@actionstation.org.nz if you want a Word version.

There were 19 recommendations that shone through, including:

  • Both te reo Māori and New Zealand history should be core subjects in all schools;
  • New Zealand history should be widely taught and commemorated in our cities and towns so that adults and visitors can learn about it too.

Hundreds of ActionStation members shared stories of their personal connection with te reo and its important place in identifying as a New Zealander. The contributions were inspiring, smart, and comprehensive. 80 of you also donated to help cover the costs putting our ataahua (beautiful) report together. Ka rawe! (Awesome!)

The people with the job of drafting the government’s strategy say they’ll have their recommendations available for the public in November. We’ll keep you updated and let you know of the next opportunity to take action to support te reo.

We’re working hard to make the internet a better place for everyone

It has been a big month for our work to make the internet a better place to spend time and discuss ideas!

Facebook announced their most intrusive privacy breach yet. Unknown hackers used two bugs in the platform to get full access to the accounts of 30 million users, including New Zealanders.

In response 216 of you have emailed the chairperson of the committee in charge of updating our Privacy Act to ask him to change the law to increase our privacy rights online. We will find out next month if they have listened. You can also send an email here.

We also wrote an article for The Spinoff explaining how Facebook ads are being used by political parties. Our electoral laws don’t require any record of these ads, something we are working to change because they have a huge impact on our democracy.

Most importantly we launched a site to collect your stories of abuse, hate and harassment online. We are currently researching for a report we plan to launch in November that highlights the impact of online abuse. We have scientific polling showing the experiences of people of color are notably worse than Pākēha and we are looking for experiences which help tell that story. You can share yours here.

Our community spread love for trans whānau throughout the streets of New Zealand

When a small group started spreading anti-trans messages in social and traditional media, we asked you to help us drown out the hate by spreading love instead. The response was amazing.

More than 200 people donated over $5000 to spread pro-inclusive feminism, trans positive stickers and posters.

We worked with InsideOUT, Gender Minorities Aotearoa and Phantom Posters and in less than a week put up over 120 posters like this one went in Wellington, Christchurch, and Auckland.

More than 70 volunteers from Invercargill to Auckland also signed up to help put up stickers and posters in their local community.

It was a huge and beautiful effort to stand by some of the most marginalised people in our country and we’re so proud to have been a part of it.

We’re volunteering our time to help end homelessness in Auckland

Auckland Council and the Housing First collective are taking steps towards eliminating homelessness for in the city for good. In order to make the right policy decisions they need up to date information about how many people are currently sleeping rough in Auckland.

More than 40 ActionStation volunteers took part in Ira Mata, Ira Tangata the first ever region-wide census count, working in groups to talk with people living without shelter all across the Auckland region.

Watch a snapshot from the night of the count at the Central Auckland volunteer headquarters before volunteers began the count. Ira Mata, Ira Tangata

“The homelessness count was in my opinion very well organised from the very beginning.” Waiora, a volunteer in West Auckland.

James Crow of the Gimme Shelter campaign was helping in central Auckland:

“It was so satisfying to see all the service groups and public come together to make this project happen. Auckland’s Homeless Count is exactly the type of surveying and data gathering project that Gimme Shelter sees as greatly improving long-term outcomes for homeless in New Zealand. This point in time data gives a better basis for understanding and a platform to measure future wins and losses around a specific strategy.”

The initial findings show that on 17 September, 336 people were counted living without shelter across Auckland. 179 were sleeping rough and 157 were sleeping in cars.

The organisers estimate that this number is likely to represent 40% of the people who were living without shelter and so they think there was a minimum of 800 people without homes.

But this doesn’t include people living in temporary or emergency accommodation which could mean a total of more like 4,000 people in Auckland without secure housing.

We will continue to look for ways the ActionStation community can contribute to ending homelessness and ensuring everyone in Aotearoa has a warm and dry home. In the meantime, you can also sign Audrey’s petition for a night shelter in central Auckland.

We’re magnifying the call for a kinder approach to the residential care subsidy

Any of us would have trouble dealing with the emotional impact of watching a loved one deal with the onset of dementia. An experience that can be made more stressful when the financial costs of residential care become unbearable.

This is why Grace is taking action on behalf of families that are not able to access support caring for their mums and dads because of the too-harsh criteria for financial help. 4,018 of us signed her petition for a review of the criteria around the residential care home subsidy.

On 20 September Grace delivered the petition to Greens Co-Leader Marama Davidson at Parliament steps. Watch the event here.

Marama told Grace she will push for a ‘case by case assessment’ for everyone who applies for the residential care subsidy — to ensure the laws meet the real needs of people and families dealing with dementia.

The petition is now in the hands of the politicians on the Health Select Committee. They invited both Grace and the Ministry of Health to provide written submissions. If you support changes to residential care home subsidy and have a story that has affected your family you can share it with Grace.

Grace is also happy to talk with anyone who is considering a petition-based campaign.

“May this journey with the petition so far encourage anyone else in a struggle that is the result of unfair laws and systems. I encourage you to never accept “it is what it is” — we can always be better, we can always do better. If anyone is ever wanting advice on navigating how to support a loved one with dementia and/or want to put up their own petition, please contact me. I have learned a lot along the way and am more than happy to share my learnings.” — Grace

Contact Grace or stay in touch with the campaign’s progress at Grace’s artist Facebook page: Grace Taylor / Mama G

We’re supporting the call for effective mental health skills and tools to be available for all young people

The young people we spoke to as part of the Youth Wellbeing survey in July told us they want better, more accessible mental health services, education and support specifically for young people.

Skills and tools for looking after ourselves should be in all schools. Over 12,500 of you agree! Last month, a petition was delivered to the panelists conducting the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. The petition asks for two effective mindfulness and resilience programmes — the Pause, Breathe, Smile and ATAWHAI — to be available in all high schools.

The teams from Mindfulness Education Group and The Kindness Institute presented the petition on 18 September.

Rangatahi (young people), school principals and well-known psychologist Nigel Latta spoke at the presentation to ask for mindfulness skills to be taught for better mental health outcomes.

Images from the presentation are here.

“If we did this simple thing, we’d change the lives of our young people, and our country, forever.” — Nigel Latta

“We have been truly overwhelmed by the support for this submission and extend our thanks to everyone who helped us over the past 6 months to get to this point. Thank you to everyone who signed, shared and supported to achieve this incredible result.” Grant Rix, Mindfulness Education

The report from the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction has been delayed by one month and is now due at the end of November. We’ll keep you posted on what they recommend and what you can do to support better mental health for all.

We’re doing more to welcome families seeking refuge

The increase of the refugee quota from 1000 to 1500 people a year was an important step toward Aotearoa New Zealand ‘doing our bit’ to give people the opportunity to live in peace and safety. But there is more to be done.

The Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship programme runs separately to the Government quota system and is led by community groups who provide support on the ground to people granted refuge in New Zealand so they can settle in their communities.

It’s been successful in Canada and already so far, 21 people have been able to settle in New Zealand through the programme. For example Zuheir (pictured) is a 10-month-old baby boy who is starting a new life with his parents in Timaru.

However, this programme was just a trial and the Government might end it. If they do, families like Zuheir’s will not have the same chance to rebuild their lives in New Zealand.

Amnesty New Zealand has set up this easy online form to show your support. Click here to take the I Welcome Pledge. They will be delivered to Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway at Parliament next month.

Renters United have made it easy for you to make renting better

We all deserve warm and safe housing. Yet renting in present day New Zealand has become expensive, unstable and a risk to our health.

There is a chance right now to make our renting laws work for the half of us who rent.

New policies working their way through the system could make renting fairer and healthier. The government is asking for feedback on their proposed changes to both the Renters Tenancy Act and the new Healthy Homes standards.

Our friends at Renters United have made a simple online form that makes it easy for you to have your say on both now. They have a plan to fix renting that recommends policies that will make sure people renting can:

  • Live in a safe and healthy home
  • Pay affordable rent
  • Find and rent a home free from discrimination, intimidation and harassment
  • Expect a respectful and responsive relationship with the landlord
  • Have a rental agreement that allows long-term security and stability
  • Make a home ‘a home’ through reasonable changes

Make a quick submission now

Finally, we are looking for volunteers!

Do you want even more opportunities to take action for a fair and flourishing future?

Click here to sign up to become a volunteer and our wonderful Intern and Volunteer Coordinator Ann will be in touch.

Examples of volunteer roles include: writers, researchers, analysts, proofreaders, bakers and more! Whatever your talent or skill is that you can contribute, our movement for a better tomorrow needs it. Click here to sign up today.

Ngā manaakitanga (Take care),

Laura, Leroy, Yvonne, Ann, Vim, Madeleine and Eliot — your ActionStation team.

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