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Maori CEO advocates for controversial welfare reforms

Marae Investigates on TV ONE

CEO of Te Tohu o te Ora o Ngati Awa and Welfare Working Group member, Enid Ratahi-Pryor says recommendations are supporting Maori to escape welfare dependency not penalising them.

Ms Ratahi-Pryor was speaking on Marae Investigates this Sunday.

When asked if the recently announced policy on providing free long-acting contraception to women on the DPB and their daughters was benefit bashing Ms Ratahi-Pryor said Absolutely not.

Forty-one percent of those on the DPB were Maori women, she said. The policy is about changing that statistic and supporting young Maori women into alternative lifestyles including keeping them in education.

The recommendation is about providing family planning information, information that can empower young people to make informed decisions about their future, Ms Ratahi-Pryor said.

So we are talking about a young person choosing to stay in education in which case free access to contraception will enable them to have a sustainable education outcome that's got to be good, I don't see any bashing in that!

Ms Ratahi-Pryor refuted the suggestion that young Maori are making a career of being on the DPB.  I dont think its a career surely nobody would want a career in the welfare system. Weve got to change that. Welfare reform is about changing the mindset of not only those people stuck in the system but New Zealanders as a whole.

She also described a number of recommendations related to immunisation as a reciprocal obligation. It was not about Government taking control or penalising beneficiaries with children if they did not immunise them.

Immunisation was an option based on informed choice, Ms Ratahi-Pryor said. The recommendations were about ensuring that tamariki being raised in a benefit-dependent home or raised in poverty are not caught up in the same long-term benefit dependency trap that their parents might be.

The welfare reform working group has made more than 100 recommendations for Government. Ms Ratahi-Pryor said one third of Maori who are capable of working was on a benefit. She said the working group had made recommendations targeting Maori leadership to become involved in policy making in this area and take some responsibility for helping and supporting our whanau out of this welfare trap.

Read the full transcript here

View the Interview here