Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Child Poverty Action Group
This Mother’s Day we want to acknowledge and give thanks to every mum in Aotearoa but particularly those doing it tough on low wages and inadequate benefit payments.
To show our support, ActionStation and Child Poverty Action Group have got a group of everyday Kiwis to help us with a videoacknowledging those parenting in trying circumstances during these challenging times.
Covid-19 has upended all our lives, but for many, who were already struggling under the pressure of providing for their children’s basic needs, this time is even more difficult.
ActionStation campaigner Ruby Powell says this crisis has shown that people in government are able to make bold changes to support our collective wellbeing.
“We want to see that same boldness in decisions that will give mothers the ability to ensure their kids can lead a happy life. Therefore we, along with thousands of others, are doing everything we can to ensure everyone has a liveable income and a healthy home.”
Child Poverty Action Group executive officer Georgie Craw reiterates these sentiments and highlights the recent New Zealand Human Rights Commission report on the impacts of Covid-19 as a prime example of why it is so important more action is taken to support mums and their children.
“As this snapshot report shows, women and their children are the most likely to be in precarious work and living conditions, and a crisis like this global pandemic just exacerbates this,” she says.
But Craw says this crisis has also shown us what’s possible when a nation unites.
“The social changes we have committed to curbing the spread of Covid-19 in our community is impressive. What else do we value enough to change? What about a world with better income support so that parents can spend more quality time with their children without the toxic stress of poverty. And what about a world where a mother can retain financial independence for herself and her children and fully partake in our society.”
Powell says she hopes those mums stressed and struggling while not being sufficiently valued for the work they do, will draw some encouragement from this video.
“We want to acknowledge your bravery and resilience in parenting under such difficult conditions,” she says
“From our bubble to yours; we wish you strength, we wish you courage, we wish you hope and we wish you love. This Mother’s Day is for you.”
Sarah+ is a single mum and recipient of the Sole Parent Support benefit. She says the pressure on single parents is huge.
“As a sole parent you need to be everything to your children, 24 hours a day, day in day out. The added stress of the financial restraints of having to be on a benefit or working a low wage job means sole parents have to be extremely creative and resilient to survive.”
Sarah says she is lucky to have family and NGO support but knows many sole parents don’t.
“With so little income there is no room for things to go wrong. You have to be hyper-vigilant with every dollar and I am really lucky that if an unexpected school bill comes up, or it’s my daughters birthday I can ask for financial help from my family. But it’s certainly not the case for all sole parents. I know people who can’t put the heating on at night because the extra expense would break the bank.”
Leanne Inder, who appears in the video and is a Trustee for Birthright New Zealand which specialises in support for families led by one person.
Inder says Birthright has seen an increase of pressure on the families they support over 65 years they have been operating.
“The parents we work with struggle with a range of contributing stressors depending on their individual circumstances. Common themes include: child support avoidance from non caregiving parents; the difficulty of finding affordable, safe housing; access to affordable child care which would more easily enable participation in paid employment; financial uncertainty with part time roles often being low paid; and for those families who need welfare support, the Sole Parent Support benefit being so little means life is extremely difficult for them and their children.”
“Parenting in a partnership with support is financially, emotionally and physically demanding – parenting alone in current conditions can be extremely strenuous.”