Welfare campaign to go nationwide

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:00 29/03/2014

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Nelson Labour MP Maryan Street is on the verge of taking a Nelson woman's campaign nationwide.

Ms Street met Nelson Work and Income personnel yesterday ahead of her campaign to initiate changes in policy to the New Zealand welfare system.

This week the Nelson Mail reported on local woman Sarah Wilson's dealings with Work and Income.

Chronically ill with an auto-immune bowel disorder, Ms Wilson had been detailing her appointments with Work and Income Nelson.

She said dealing with Work and Income was "frustrating, depressing, anxiety-inducing, dehumanising and debilitating" and change needed to come from the top.

Ms Wilson was collecting people's stories about dealing with the welfare system to hand on to Ms Street who said she would use them to campaign for change.

In her meeting yesterday, Ms Street said she was offered assurances that Work and Income case managers and staff were offered professional development programmes and they "recruited people with the right skills".

However, the emphasis was always to get people into work, she was told.

She had six stories so far, but was expecting more through the country and said it was a nationwide issue.

She said it was a long meeting, with disagreements. "They were certainly defending their position."

She said the meeting proved there needed to be policy changes. "There will be some action to come out of this. We will be representing the causes of the people who have brought their cases to us. My colleagues around the country are getting them [stories about poor treatment] as well."

Labour social development spokesperson Sue Moroney had received a "flood of Work and Income complaints", Ms Street said.

"They can't be all right and the complaints all wrong."

She said the party would battle for the rights of beneficiaries.

"It may well start in Nelson because of Sarah's efforts, she started something here and I am pleased she has."

Work and Income's response to a Nelson Mail editorial on the issue, P11.

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- The Nelson Mail

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