Creative social work

post by A Social Work Student 

It is without a doubt the topic of social work in the media has been biased. Even though it is one of the most passionate occupations in New Zealand, social work is constantly portrayed in the media as baby snatchers. This is a trend that also occurs in the UK. It has been reported that particular media outlets in England has again “misinterpreted the system that seeks to protect children” (Mason, 2018). According to Stanfield and Beddoe (2016), the relationship between social work and the media has been edgy and full of apprehension. They have also realized the importance of learning and engaging in social media which serves as a platform to influence and advocate for social justice and social change.
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Who’s telling our stories?

post by Rachel Wallis

In recent times, barely a week has gone by without media coverage of the teacher shortage or poor working conditions of nurses. The public are well-informed about the low salaries, high workloads and extra duties that are driving teachers and nurses out of the cities, and the profession. Representatives from the Principles Association, or the New Zealand Nurses Association are regularly interviewed regarding their concerns for their profession and it appears they are backed up by the general public.
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State House Tenants Deserve Compensation

post by Faith Freeman

An anonymous tip-off. Odd-looking behaviour. A ‘suspicion’. That was all it took for Housing New Zealand to swing into its ‘zero tolerance to methamphetamine’ action plan (Brown, 2016).

Step 1: Mobilise 20 to 30 Housing New Zealand staff per property to investigate and act.

Step 2: Erect yellow warning tape around the home so that it looks like the scene of a police murder investigation.

Step 3: Employ private meth-cleaning contractors, decked out in boiler suits, breathing apparatus and gas masks to test for the most minute trace of methamphetamine and launch full-scale de-contamination of the property.

Step 4: Evict vulnerable state house tenants onto the street and blacklist them for 12 months.

Step 5: Make sure state home is left empty for months in the middle of the country’s worst ever housing crisis.

Step 6: Take evicted state house tenants to the Tenancy Tribunal to retrieve costs for the above.

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Self-help Cultural Approach for Dementia

post by Lok Kan

In pace of the rapid growth of ageing population, the number of dementia sufferer increases steadily at the same time. It was reported that more than 425,000 Australians are affected by dementia, which becomes the second-ranked cause of death overall (Macpherson, 2018). Old age, certainly, is the main risk factor of dementia. About one-third of people aged over 85 live with dementia. The treatments for the dementia sufferer are increasingly concerned as the pharmacological approach had been found minimally effective according to many findings.

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Babies behind bars

post by Princess Leia

For a number of years, the practice of ‘babies behind bars’ has grown in popularity. This phenomenon has been increasing over the past ten years in many different countries, including America and the United Kingdom. Netflix has even released a documentary about one of these occurrences in the United States. The situations always play out relative to mothers and babies within female prisons. In the UK, the units cater for mothers with babies under the age of eighteen months as women who either give ‘birth in prison or have a child under 18 months old they can apply to bring their child to prison with them’.

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Crossing a line – Maria’s tale

a post by Anonymous student

Consider Maria*. From age seven, Maria grew up with multiple foster parents before moving into residential care at age 14. She had her first child at 18, her second at 21, both with a partner who is physically abusive towards her. Both children were removed from their care due to neglect and physical abuse. Maria became pregnant again at 23 and because of her history, was referred to an NGO, which provided weekly visits from a social worker. Due to the potential high risk of neglect and abuse, the third baby was removed immediately after it was born and placed into care. Maria’s visits from the social worker then stopped because she was no longer pregnant and there was no baby or child in the family. Maria was left to return to an abusive partner and overwhelming feelings of grief and loss.

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Advertised position: Social Worker or Miracle Worker?

post by Melina Ubeda Browne

Do you know how many children a typical Oranga Tamariki social worker is responsible for? Did you know that caseloads for social workers at Oranga Tamariki are family based, not individually based?

This means that a typical caseload of an Oranga Tamariki social worker contains ‘cases’ where in one scenario; a case/family may have 3 children involved, but another may have 7 children. Not to mention the cases where multiple children are involved due to being related, household members, or present during a particular event.

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Is unconscious racism hard-wired into Aotearoa New Zealand society?

post by Annie Summerfield 

Māori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand (Aotearoa), disproportionately feature in the country’s most negative statistics across social, economic and political platforms.  Whether the disparities are in the areas of crime, education, health, homelessness or socioeconomic disadvantage, Māori feature strongly.  With Te Aniwa Hurihanganui reporting Māori youth are particularly at risk for committing suicide  , Sarah Monod de Froideville reporting on the over-representation of Maori in the youth justice system , and Māori being significantly more likely than non-Māori to be placed in state care, and to experience homelessness, for example, this arguably suggests the problem is not with Māori but, rather, as Dr Ian Hyslop points out, a result of institutional bias . 

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Is this how we repay them?

post by Haaku Fuakau Fakahelehele

“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” (Walker & Speers (2013).

Older adults (aged 60 +) are highly respected and loved in Pacific Island communities, so it is difficult as a Pacific Islander to hear different scenarios where older people are taken advantage of and abused. Recent headlines state: “Caregiver pleads guilty to ill-treatment after unwittingly recording abuse” (Wairarapa Times Age, 2018) and “Elderly Aussie woman loses home to Westpac after tricked into signing loan” (Chung, 2018). This is distressing from my own cultural point of view and it is discouraging to see that the older generation are becoming victims to physical, psychological, emotional and financial abuse. Is this how we repay their hard work that has helped to shape our country? If it is, I want no part of it. Elder abuse has been defined by the World Health Organisation Toronto Declaration on the Global Prevention of Elder Abuse (2002) as

“… a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person”.  (Age Concern, 2018).

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Are you Māori?!

post by Jessica Leaming

Ko Jessica Leaming toku ingoa

Ko Kay King toku mama

Ko Mark Leaming toku papa e mate mai

Ko Richard King toku Tungane

Ko Ngapuhi ki Whaingaroa toku Iwi

Ko Ngati Pakahi toku hapu

Ko Mataatua te waka

Ko Emiemi te maunga

Ko Mangaiti toku marae

Ko Tau Te Rangimarie te whare hui

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa

My Name is Jessica. I am white skinned, with blue eyes and brunette hair. I also am Māori. I have a keen interest for whakapapa and as a result have a wide knowledge base of my tupuna, marae and genealogy which I can trace back to my three wakas. I thank my mother for taking me back home to Totara North/Kaeo every holiday’s since I was a baby, so I was able to learn who my extended whanau are and learn about our whanau values and histories. I consider myself grateful for these experiences as I am aware not all Māori are as fortunate.

jess leaming pic

My colourful whanau

My mother has five other siblings. Out of those siblings my mum is the only one with fair skin and blue eyes, therefore it’s fair to say when my family is put together we are a colourful one and often receive the comment, ‘we didn’t know you were Māori’ as if to say you can only be Māori if you have brown skin. Nadine Millar shares a similar experience stating that she is often asked how much Māori blood in fact she has in her as if this is a determining factor on what makes you a Māori (E-Tangata, 2015).

Growing up I have always felt the need to prove and over compensate for being so fair skinned but the true extent of what it meant to be Māori but contain all European features didn’t become clear to me until I began my degree at university. I can vividly remember the day I was made to feel as though I was not ‘Māori’ enough and did not have the right to wear my pounamu that my father who had passed away earlier in the year gifted to me. I was on the train and a middle-aged Maori woman proceeded to tell me how beautiful my pounamu was, at first, I was delighted and thanked her. She then took it upon herself to ask me if it was real as she reached to touch it, feeling the need to explain to me that was I aware how lucky I was to have a pounamu and was I wearing it for the right reasons and who gave it to me. I remember thinking if I were brown skinned would you have questioned me on if I knew the importance of owning a pounamu and question me on my reasons of wearing one? Or would you assume if I was brown skinned that you wouldn’t need to tell me what it meant to own a pounamu as special as mine? According to Marae (2018) 72,000 people identified as Māori on the last census but could not identify their Iwi. My point here is there are Māori who ‘look’ very Māori but do not know their whakapapa where as I do. Skin colour in not an indication of how Māori you are and how much you know about Te Ao Māori or tikānga Māori. Percentages were used by the government in the 1970’s to determine how Maori an individual is, whether they were an eighth or a quarter was used to determine which roll an individual could vote on. Under the Maori affairs act the blood quantum concept was used in 1953. The issue with this is that is assumes culture and identity are biological traits, where-as for Maori identity is dictated by the upbringing one has had. The use of the blood quantum contributed to undermining one’s sense of self identity (Pickering, 1996).

It seems these ideas of needing to justify how much Māori is in you have carried through the years. Kanoa Llyod has a great response to this in that ‘Māori is Māori’ despite the percentage (The spinoff, 2018). So, what does this mean for me heading into the field of social work? Personally, and professionally I see it as a strength. My knowledge of Te Ao Māori and of my own whakapapa stands me in good steed for knowing exactly who I am and what I am capable of. I can relate to both Māori and European because of having to walk in both worlds all my life. I’ve always felt the need to prove my Māori heritage to people until recently. I know I am Māori, I know where I come from and I know where I belong.

References:

E-Tangata. (2015). So you think you’re Māori?. Retrieved from https://e-tangata.co.nz/news/so-you-think-youre-maori

Marae. (2018). Sunday 6th May. Retrieved from https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/marae/episodes/s2018-e7

The Spinoff. (2018). How to tell if you’re Māori. Retrieved from https://thespinoff.co.nz/atea/02-03-2018/cheat-sheet-how-to-tell-if-youre-maori/

Moeke-Pickering, T. (1996). Maori identity within whanau: A review of literature. Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato. Retrieved from https://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/464/content.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y