Woman's survey of Ministry of Social Development clients shows many felt 'worthless' and bullied

A Canterbury woman's informal survey about Ministry of Social Development services has given starkly different results ...
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

A Canterbury woman's informal survey about Ministry of Social Development services has given starkly different results to those it commissions.

The Ministry of Social Development has made clients feel "worthless", bullied, depressed and "treated worse than a criminal", one woman's informal survey of nearly 350 people shows.

Canterbury woman Mahara Tahuhu used her "nightmare" experience with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to reach out to others who use its services.

Tahuhu said she and her partner, who suffers from debilitating mental health issues, were offered a Housing New Zealand (HNZ) flat in Ashburton about three years ago on the presumption the MSD would help with relocation costs.

But when she was told they would not, she "scrambled, borrowed [and] begged" to find the means to move from Christchurch as they were given less than a week to accept and be in the flat, she said.

READ MORE:
Christchurch tetraplegic man 'digusted' after benefit slashed without warning
The (not so) wonderful world of WINZ
Anger never a solution to frustrations, says beneficiary advocate
MSD says IT system not up to standard after privacy breaches
Privacy Commissioner has slammed Social Development data collection plans as too intrusive

"This was the beginning of a constant culture on the part of the MSD consisting of a distinct lack of clear, consistent communication, constant chopping and changing, mixed messages, losing paperwork [and] fluctuating payments."

Tahuhu said she wanted to survey people's experiences, so when former Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei's benefit fraud became public she put some questions together and posted them on Facebook.

The 347 respondents from around New Zealand had used a range of MSD services, from Studylink to HNZ, but 95 per cent of respondents had Work and Income among their choices. 

When asked if the MSD generally treated people with dignity and respect, 256 of the 330 who answered that question said no. Just 45 said yes.

"Going into WINZ (sic) has been the most dehumanising experience in my life," one respondent said. "I have major depression and anxiety and I try to avoid that place. I would rather catch the plague."

Ad Feedback

Tahuhu said she was shocked and angry to learn what some other people had gone through.

"It's hard enough being on a low income as it is, or battling a chronic illness or disability," she said.

"Nobody, I think, is saying that it should be cushy … but you want to make it so it's not a living nightmare at the same time."

Respondents to Tahuhu's survey also pointed out positive experiences, or situations where particular people had helped them through a tough situation.

One person said having a good case manager could be "the difference between hungry and homeless". Another said they had "a lovely case manager" who had helped them and their partner into fulltime work.

"They are employees just like any others and do their best to help people, they seem to endure abuse from people when it's not warranted."

Negative experiences ranged from a lack of privacy when meeting with case managers to a claim of getting sick from a "drug state house" that was not decontaminated because it fell "slightly below" Ministry of Health guidelines.

"It got to a point where I would be so stressed going to their office that I would feel physically sick," another respondent said.

"Now I avoid doing so because I don't need the extra stress which, in turn, affects my living situation."

Work and Income national commissioner Kay Read said the organisation welcomed any feedback and would "read the results of this survey with interest".

A recent MSD-commissioned survey of more than 11,000 working-age beneficiaries and senior clients who had visited a service centre called the contact centre or used an online service showed Work and Income was "exceeding satisfaction level targets," she said.

"The survey also asks clients how satisfied they were with the manner in which our staff treated them, ie with respect. This has consistently returned results of 93 per cent for the last two years."

Tahuhu said that although her survey was not completed by an independent research organisation, she "would hold what people have said in pretty good faith".

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Double rainbow in Coromandel

Rachael Scott snapped these pictures of a vivid double rainbow over the Coromandel Peninsula.

A spectacular double rainbow had one motorist looking for the pot of gold.

'Maggot' in Macca's ice cream

McDonald's have said they would offer the family vouchers and a replacement ice cream.

A girl started screaming and retching after finding what appeared to be a maggot in her McDonald's treat.

Errors undo Auckland

The Counties Manukau defence wrap up Auckland wing Caleb Clarke in their 16-14 win in Pukekohe.

Derby defeat for Auckland and Canterbury get set to bring All Black back to NPC arena.

Auckland playing catch-up video

Rochelle Payne (left) says Auckland Council talks a great talk but has no policies in place to support builders of ...

With a mere 20 sustainable homes, Auckland is well behind its own targets for warmer, healthier houses.

Wellington

The woman behind the Plate video

Kaibosh's 'All Taste, No Waste' event is running as part of Visa Wellington On a Plate.

"I would be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about next year already," Wellington On A Plate festival director says.

Sir Colin Meads dies video

Sir Colin Meads has died, aged 81.

All Blacks legend Sir Colin Meads has died following a year-long battle with cancer.

Falling rocks ahead video

Falling rock on August 18 in the Ngaio Gorge in Wellington.

Tiny blue car just escapes falling boulders as dashcam captures danger in the Ngaio Gorge.

From politics to coffee

Peoples Coffee head roaster Rene Macauley with a coffee roasting machine in its Newtown warehouse.

Peoples Coffee has been stirring for change for 13 years.

Canterbury

Idea to keep Cathedral a ruin

A Walker Community Architects' plan for Christ Church Cathedral.

Architectural practice suggests keeping Christ Church Cathedral as a ruin surrounded by reflective pool.

Jacinda's heroism

Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, of North Canterbury, saved lives during the Battle of Baghak - two weeks before a roadside ...

She saved an officer's life during deadly firefight two weeks before she was killed, soldiers say.

People trapped after garage crash

The car narrowly missed a house, clipping a garage on Newland St, Hoon Hay.

Two trapped after car crashes into garage in Hoon Hay, Christchurch.

Making new Chch stadium work

Perth Stadium and precinct should open early next year and includes many innovations in stadium design that are popular ...

The live experience has to be better than the home experience, or fans won't show.

Waikato

The great Pinetree falls gallery video

All Blacks legend Colin Meads.

OBITUARY: All Blacks legend leaves one of the great rugby legacies.

Sir Colin Meads dies video

Sir Colin Meads has died, aged 81.

All Blacks legend Sir Colin Meads has died following a year-long battle with cancer.

Bystanders praised for rescue

Rescuers work to free the couple from the ute shortly after it plunged 10 metres down the bank into the Waikato River at ...

Bystanders in Cambridge, including an off-duty police officer, saved two from submerged car.

Marae teems with politicians

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira spoke to the crowd.

It was mainly a Maori Party party, though, with a sprinkling of National MPs.

Taranaki

What is it with National and ponytails?

190817 News Photo. SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF
Paula Bennett was in New Plymouth on the campaign trail.
 Charlie Godwin (15) ...

With ponytail in hand, this National Party minister had permission.

Birthday business gift

Anika has been learning the value of money.

They've gone one better than the good ol' roadside lemonade stand.

A long awaited sickness

Taking a day off to look after sick kids is the worst decision you will ever make. (File photo)

OPINION: You could take a day off work to look after sick kids or you could just run for the hills.

Person trapped in car

Police attended a car crash in Inglewood on Saturday. (File photo)

A person was trapped in their car after their door caved in when they crashed.

Manawatu

Karen community celebrates

The Karen community hold their first Wrist tying ceremony in Palmerston North. Keelar Pasta, 13, has a go at wrist tying.

Amid music, traditional food and dress, Karen people are celebrating their culture.

$10.5b roading plan

Manawatu Gorge will be a roading focus for the National Government.

Major upgrade to stricken Manawatu Gorge part of ambitious vision to improve New Zealand's roads.

Volunteering in Jordan

Zoe Dekker will head to Jordan to help Syrian refugees. She is walking 100km with her father, Paul Dekker, to raise money.

Zoe Dekker is heading to Jordan to help Syrian refugees.

No injuries after crash

Police attended a one-car crash on Manawatu's Saddle Rd.

Police were called to a one-person car crash on Friday night.

Nelson

Bylaw divides opinion

The bylaw was created to deal with Lewis Stanton and the issue of freedom campers in the city.

The council's bylaw to ban rough sleeping, and require a permit to protest, is put under the legal microscope.

Indoor market planned

Tony Vining and Gill Ireland inside the former Mill building on New St, now destined to house a microbrewery.

A new indoor market is soon to set up shop in the Nelson CBD.

Hansen: Squire 'phenomenal'

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 19:  Liam Squire of the All Blacks is tackled during The Rugby Championship Bledisloe Cup ...

All Blacks No 6 "lovely to watch" as he stepped up in Sydney, coach Steve Hansen says.

Humans of Nelson

Humans of Nelson

A national storytelling initiative has hit Nelson, driven by a  passionate group of locals.

Marlborough

Push for change on plastic bags

Marlborough District Council solid waste manager Alec McNeil says more than 900 people have taken part in a survey on ...

The results are in, and the people are pushing for a charge on plastic bags.

Eduction issues

Marlborough Girls’ College acting principal Jo Chamberlain.

What are our aspirations for our young people today and in the future, and how best do we as a local community support them?

Wine on tourists' agendas

Tourists enjoy wine and food at Black Barn Vineyards in Hawkes Bay.

Cultured wine tourists spend more, stay longer, and are looking for a social experience.

A different class

New classrooms at Spring Creek School, near Blenheim, offer an improved learning environment.

Removing walls in the classroom is not just about removing physical barriers, but about breaking down obstacles to learning.

South Canterbury

TBHS First XV knock over Christ's

TBHS wing Tevita Eukaliti has too much pace for the defence on his way to scoring in the corner.

Timaru Boys' High School First XV show too much class in victory over Christ's College.

ESOL numbers rise

Waimataitai School ESOL students, from left, Bogdan Stoiljkovic, 8, Lusiana Isaako Tuala, 7, and Pratistha Naicker, 7.

Dairy industry and affordability linked to increase in number of ESOL students.

Offering support for fathers

Jason Brokenshire looks at a recent photo of him with his three children.  He hopes to set up a support group for fellow ...

Timaru man wants to create awareness and support for other fathers after separation.

Hospital services key 

Timaru Hospital.

Services key to Timaru Hospital rebuild, observers and sector groups say.

Southland

South's top cop defends officers

Southern district commander Superintendent Paul Basham says "some things can go wrong sometimes".

Alleged murder, stalking and sexting cases involving police may harm reputation of hard-working officers, top cop says.

Car hits cop, dog

The scene on Dee St, Invercargill, where a police officer and dog were hurt as a spiked car came to a halt.

A policeman and dog went under a car as officers tried to subdue a driver in Invercargill.

Milestones for accountants

Mervyn Gillick , 95,was the oldest member in attendance at the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand Southland ...

There was no shortage of experience on hand at a chartered accountants members lunch.

Dunedin Hospital plans welcomed video

Prime Minister Bill English flanked by ministers, Michael Woodhouse, left, and Dr Jonathan Coleman while in Dunedin on ...

Dunedin civic leaders are backing plans for a new hospital to be built in the central city.

Ad Feedback