The Government needs to stop all punitive and harmful sanctions.

Many participants called for the overall system to be less punitive, and for sanctions to be scrapped altogether.

“For a start, scrap relationship sanctions, scrap the current method of forcing people into unsuitable work or training, give people enough to live on, provide a LOT more housing at reasonable prices and in good condition.Train staff much better with regard to respect, domestic violence, racial issues, privacy, and other social issues.”

  • Bridget, Palmerston North

“Benefit sanctioning is still an issue and I believe we could afford to stop this practice, as it often discriminates against the most vulnerable in society (homeless, children of struggling families). It is very challenging to live off a basic benefit with rising costs of living, thus I think a reasonable increase would help lift many people above the poverty line (inline with steps to remedy housing crisis etc). A change to the way the welfare state treats mothers on the benefit could also do with an overhaul as currently many are encouraged to seek employment before their family is stabilised (particularly single mothers) which has a significant impact on the welfare of their children and ultimately the health of the entire whānau. This could look like an increase to single mothers’ benefits so that they could adequately care for their tamariki and have a more realistic and considered approach to getting mothers into the workforce and acknowledging all the work that mothers do as mothers, which must be outsourced if they are doing other work.”

  • Alex, Social Worker, Wellington

“Remove sanctions for relationship, at least define de-facto as being in the nature of marriage (ie. living together and sharing a bank account) Less work testing for people in part-time work and in recognised voluntary work.”

  • Ben, Christchurch

“WINZ needs a realistic understanding of cost of renting. Parents with minor children should not lose benefits the moment they move in with a spouse.”

  • Helen, 48, Dunedin

“Sanctions should not be used (for any reason). People want to be independent. Most people require assistance for only a short time. But our society is not equipped to enable some people to become independent. They should not be penalised or stigmatised for this. Our welfare system needs to accept that for some people long term, even lifetime, support will be necessary.”

  • Kay, Social Worker, Dunedin