Representative church leaders have met with the Prime Minister and Government ministers to ask for more action in the areas of immigration, housing and social investment. Their views are influenced by the experience of their church congregations and church-based social agencies in most New Zealand communities.
The church leaders told the Prime Minister, “An insufficient supply of safe and affordable housing in New Zealand is contributing to a level of poverty that is fracturing the wellbeing of people and communities and hindering the educational progress of our children.
“Ensuring everyone has access to affordable housing is perhaps the most important means to lifting New Zealanders out of poverty and boosting the nation’s collective health and prosperity.”
The church leaders thanked Government for providing increased support for homeless people, but asked for more urgent attention to permanently address people’s long-term housing need.
Because sustainable communities can only occur where there is housing security, the leaders presented a comprehensive strategy on each aspect of the housing continuum, urging ministers to implement a broader strategy of ownership, rental, social and emergency housing solutions.
Welcoming recent Government changes and increased numbers in immigration, the church leaders also discussed how churches could play a larger role in assisting and supporting refugee families living in and being brought to New Zealand
Government’s social investment approach to social policy was discussed. While supporting the idea of social investment, the church leaders raised questions about the narrowness of this approach.
They felt a more successful social investment approach would identify how to get the right help to the people who needed it, when they needed it, and when they were motivated for change. Their church leaders’ paper proposed a more coordinated system to support such an approach.
The church leaders that met with the Prime Minister included: Anglican Archbishop Philip Anglican, Baptist representative Daniel Palmer, Catholic Cardinal John Dew, Methodist Rev Prince Devanandan, Presbyterian Rev Richard Dawson, and Salvation Army Commissioner Andrew Westrupp. Church social policy advisors also attended the meeting.