The ActionStation community is dedicated to bringing about a future where everyone has opportunities to follow their dreams and thrive. A future where everyone, whether they are able to work or not is valued and their intrinsic mana is upheld. A future where every child has access to nourishing kai and after school activities, and every parent has the time and resources to tuck their tamariki into a warm bed at night.
Over 2020, we have worked extraordinarily hard to push the Government to take steps towards this vision and make the changes the experts agree would unlock hundreds of thousands of children and adults across the country from poverty.
We've coordinated collective actions, like bringing 75 organisations together behind an open letter calling for benefit increases, and individual actions, like writing to the politicians with the power to enact the changes the experts say will help, like visiting MPs and telling our personal stories in the media.
Here are some of 2020’s years highlights When it comes to discussions about how we solve the poverty crisis, too often we hear from politicians and business people who benefit from our unbalanced economic system, and who spread misinformation and myths about income support.
In February, along with Child Poverty Action Group, we partnered with The Spinoff to lay out the facts about poverty in New Zealand in this powerful cartoon by Toby Morris.
When COVID-19 hit Aotearoa, 650 ActionStation members from across the country wrote heartfelt, personal messages to the politicians with the power to release the pressures and constraints people are forced to live under if they need income support.
In May, for Mothers’ Day, during lockdown, people across the country joined forces to create a powerful video of love and solidarity to all the parents doing an amazing job of raising children despite inadequate benefit rates.
You can watch the video here.
Throughout the year, we contributed to hundreds of media stories to shine a spotlight both on the severity of the poverty our welfare system is creating, but also on the many solutions available to our political leaders.
In preparation for when these stories hit the media we trained 52 Welfare Tautoko volunteers over three six week courses, to insert understanding, supportive messages into Facebook threads from the media stories. After completing the training courses these wonderful caring humans, continue to come together to make Facebook a safer, kinder place for conversations about poverty and welfare system change.
This are some of their beautiful faces:
For the general election, we partnered with Tick For Kids, The Equality Network, Anglican Movement and Child Poverty Action Group to run the Enough For All election forum focussing on lived experiences, which was attended by over 200 people online.
Then when the new Government was announced, we helped bring together organisations, from frontline services groups to unions and church groups, to rally behind the call for urgent increases in income support rates. 75 organisations have now signed the open letter.
Some of the policy wins we have contributed to this year are:
A permanent increase to core benefits of $25 per week.
The removal of the requirement for working families to work a minimum number of hours to get the in-work tax credit.
A commitment to build 8,000 additional state houses in Budget 2020.
The introduction of the Food in Schools pilot and subsequent $220 million allocated in Budget 2020 to extend the program.
Increased protection for tenants enacted in August 2020.
While we celebrate these changes as steps in the right direction, it is with heavy hearts that we arrive at Christmas knowing the pressure so many whānau and individuals are under.
Next year, we are committed to continuing to work with all our allies across the country and to pour our love and passion into pushing the Government to take bold action to ensure no one is locked in poverty by inadequate incomes. We know that when everyone has what they need to thrive - we all will prosper - our wellbeing is interconnected and so is our suffering.