Out in the cold – a report on Dunedin housing

out in the cold

This report is “a survey of low income private rental housing in Dunedin 2013”.

In 2004 Presbyterian Support Otago undertook the same survey and now compares the results.

Some of the discoveries are:

  • Compared to 2004 where 36% of low income houses passed the standards, only 23% passed in 2013. That’s a 1/3 decrease.
  • Most tenants claim they can afford to heat only minimal living space in their homes to a safe level

It is a great opportunity to get to know what is happening and changing in Dunedin.


Read the report as a PDF.


Family Violence Forum a Success

On Tuesday the 26th of August, Council of Social Services Dunedin and Nicola Atwool from the University of Otago facilitated a forum to discuss the People’s Report and Family Violence. This outlined recent findings and research to show what the current situation is and in what direction New Zealand is heading.

This was a huge success. Nine organisations spoke to an audience of over 50 people, sharing information about what they do and the work they face in the current environment. This was highly informative and thought provoking, raising a lot of questions about what the future can bring. Current issues were raised and discussion was had on where Dunedin can go from here. The majority agreeing that action is needed now; that we need to be proactive and begin collaborating.

The organisations that spoke were Chatbus, Te Whare Pounamu, Te Roopu Tautoko ki te Tonga, Ministry of Social Development, Child Youth and Family, Police, Age Concern, Dunedin Community Law Centre and Stopping Violence Dunedin.

It was great to hear the shared focus of collaboration being discussed and emphasised. We need to be proactive not reactive. Dunedin Collaboration Against Family Violence launched their new campaign which provides one way of doing this; Families free from Violence.

Nicola Atwool made it into the local paper the next day with an article in the Otago Daily Times. You can read the article by clicking here.

Please don’t forget to come along to Dunedin Collaboration Against Family Violence’s ”Families Celebrating Father’s Day” event THIS SUNDAY 9am till 4pm at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

IT for good: learn local, think global talk, 17 July 2014

Stephen Blyth

cartoon-small1Stephen Blyth presented to a note scribbling audience here at Dunedin Community House last week. He has now posted the presentation online along with links:

Whether you were there or not there are links galore and learning to be had.

Stephen is also featured on Sustainable Lens on OAR F tonight at 7pm.

If anyone is interested in helping get net2 up and running in Dunedin please email Rob to let him know.



Experiences with the Medical Appeal Board (MAB) Process an exploration of how the Work and Income medical criteria decision review process is working

Consultations Unpacked Background Paper.

Friday 6 June 2014 12-1.30pm
Dunedin Community House

 a Dunedin Council of Social Services, Dunedin Community Law Centre &
Community Law Canterbury Community Forum


The MAB is the place to go to appeal a Work and Income decision made on medical criteria (such as eligibility for Supported Living Payment, Jobseeker Support and the Child Disability Allowance). The board is independent of Work and Income. The MAB has the power to change decisions made by Work and Income. It can either agree with the decision, or change the decision. There is no right of appeal against a decision of a Medical Appeal Board. This means it is very important that a case going to the MAB is well prepared, there is strong medical evidence to back up your case and if you need it, you have someone to support or represent you at the hearing.

The MAB is a decision making panel made up of three people. MAB members are appointed by MSD’s Chief Executive and are paid by MSD for their time taking part in hearings. MABs consist of three members* who are:

  • Doctors
  • People with expertise in rehabilitation, such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses, and psychologists.
  • Other people with the right expertise.

* The board members at your hearing must not have had any involvement in your case or treated you as a patient.

Concern has been expressed locally at the length of time it can take for an appeal to go through, and the composition of the board. While it is recognised that board membership does require people with the right expertise, some clients have indicated that the expertise is limited to specific areas of medicine and their case may fall outside of this area, other clients have expressed concern the board is not gender and culturally diverse.

The forum is interested in hearing local stories and experiences with the Medical Appeals Board so that we can look at ways of supporting beneficiaries who are taking medical appeals.

 Sources and links for further Information

 Work & Income New Zealand

 About medical appeals:

http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/community/health-and-disability-practitioners/about- medical-appeals.html

About the medical appeal board hearings:

http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/individuals/brochures/a-guide-to-medical-appeals-board- hearings.html

'The Spirit Level' authors talking in Dunedin 26 May

On Monday 26 May The Spirit Level Authors Professor Richard Wilkinson and Professor Kate Pickett, will give a public talk on ‘Inequality, sustainability and well-being’.

They’ll present the evidence showing that reducing the income differences between rich and poor is crucial to achieving higher levels of sustainable well-being in the future. They will then go on to suggest policies that can ensure greater equality becomes deeply embedded in our societies.

The Spirit Level was so influential it even has its own Wikipedia page.

This is a great opportunity to hear world class thinkers peak in Dunedin and the event is free.

Find more details on our calendar page.

Caring for the Carers: an exploration of how the new family carers policy is affecting families caring for disabled relatives

Consultations Unpacked Background Paper

Caring for the Carers

an exploration of how the new family carers policy is affecting families caring for disabled relatives

a Dunedin Council of Social Services (DCOSS) &
Dunedin Community Law Centre (DCLC) Community Forum

Friday 2 May 2014 12 – 1.30pm
Dunedin Community House

In October 2013 the government released a Budget package that would enable some family carers to receive payment for looking after family members. The package was formulated in response to a Court of Appeal decision that a policy of not paying family carers to provide support services to family members living with disabilities constituted discrimination, on the basis of family status. The 2013 Budget provides $23 million a year to pay carers who look after a disabled family members aged 18 years or older who are assessed as having high, or very high needs. Funding enables payment at the minimum wage.

Eligible people can employ a family carer to provide personal care and household management, or continue to use a commercial provider.

The decision was hailed as a step in the right direction, but was not without criticism:

  • Concern has been expressed at the high & very high needs eligibility criteria.
  • There is disappointment that spouses and partners of disabled people are excluded from the scheme.

  • The new legislation (NZ Public Health and Disability Amendment Act 2013) states that people can no longer bring unlawful discrimination complaints about the new law or family care policy to the Human Rights Commission.
  • Some family members leave good paying jobs and take a cut in pay to care for a family member at the minimum wage rate.

Other concerns which have been informally raised include issues around professional development opportunities, support for family carers and the vulnerability of carers in terms of employment rights.

The forum is interested in hearing local stories about how the new family carers policy is affecting families caring for disabled relatives.

What is working? What is not working?

Sources and links for further information

Ministry of Social Development: The New Zealand Carers’ Strategy Action Plan for 2014 to 2018


New Zealand Herald: Editorial


NZ Public Health and Disability Amendment Act 2013


Download this page as a PDF.

Add to your calendar.

Feedback on the Government response to the Health Committee’s Inquiry into Improving Child Health Outcomes and Preventing Child Abuse

Consultations Unpacked – Improving Child Health Outcomes and Preventing Child Abuse

Council of Social Services Dunedin (COSSD) and Dunedin Community Law Centre (DCLC) invite you to joins us at a Community Forum.

12pm to 1:30pm on Friday 28 March 2014 at Dunedin Community House

On Thursday 6 March the Government released its response to the Health Committee’s Inquiry into improving child health outcomes and preventing child abuse with a focus from preconception until three years of age – a number of you may have submitted to the Inquiry.

130 recommendations were made, and the Government has accepted or accepted in part 109, 14 have been noted and seven not accepted.

You can download a background paper including links to articles and papers: Child_Health_Background.

Feedback and questions will be reported back to the Health Select Committee.

Attention NGO (Not For Profit) providers who contract with Government

Here’s the contents of an email we recently sent out – this is a significant change coming,  please pass the news on to anyone you think will be affected.

Subject: Workshop to learn more about upcoming government contracting changes

Tēnā koutou

Changes are coming in the way government agencies that contract with NGOs will contract in the future.  In March 2013 cabinet gave approval for the NGO streamlined government contracting project to be rolled out across all government agencies.

The following government agencies have already signalled their intent to roll out the new contract templates between 1 July 2014 to 1 July 2016:

  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of Social Development
  • Te Puni Kōkiri
  • Department of Corrections

It’s also hoped that District Health Boards will also use the contracting framework, but MBIE is testing that with DHBs over the coming months.

A series of workshops are being offered around the country to support you to understand the changes coming and let you begin to prepare yourself for the upcoming changes.  A session will be held in Dunedin, hosted by Council of Social Services Dunedin as follows:

Venue: Waipori Room, Community Link, WINZ Building
Address: cnr Castle & St Andrew Sts, Dunedin
Time: 9.30-1.00pm, Tuesday 25 March 2014

[calendar link]

These seminars are being held in different locations around the country, if you would like to see alternative venues please go to:  http://www.angoa.org.nz/events/

Registration is open to all NGO providers currently contracting with one of the above government agencies.  If you wish to be informed about the changes and learn from each other about what this means for the sector then please register at:


Registration is essential as numbers will be limited based on venue capacity.  We are limited in the number of workshops we can hold and we are keen for as many different organisations as possible to attend, therefore numbers for each provider are limited to one place each.

RSVP needed by 19 March 2014.

If you want to learn more about the project and changes then the following link will take you to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) website and all relevant documents:


The training and education section has a series of videos that provide you with more background information:


We look forward to seeing as many NGO providers as possible at the upcoming workshop.

Ngā mihi

Jane Clutha
Facilitator for Council of Social Services Dunedin

Community Development, insights for Practice – a narrative research project

Jenny Aimers and Peter Walker are coming to Community House to talk us through their recent research and book. Community Development, Insights for practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. With a real Otago focus there’s a great chance to learn from situations we might be familiar with.

This presentation is linked to the recently published book. Based on interviews with 13 community workers who have worked within a wide range of communities representing a shared place or identity. There was a mix of voices representing current, previous practitioners and old hands. For this presentation we will outline the underpinnings, skills and processes drawn from these interviews as well as discuss the research process. Some of the community workers featured will be also present and will form a panel for a question and answer session from the floor.

The event is free, bring your lunch, tea and coffee provided.

Add to your calendar and more using COSSD’s training calendar.


Consultations Unpacked: Harmful Digital Communications Bill aka the Cyber-bullying Bill, an open discussion

Council of Social Services Dunedin & Dunedin Community Law Centre invite you to discuss the proposals and assist with formulating a possible submission to Parliament.

The Bill proposes to mitigate harm caused to individuals by digital communications and to provide victims of harmful digital communications with a quick and efficient means of redress. It follows the Law Commission’s 2012 Ministerial Briefing paper Harmful Digital Communications and proposes:

  • creating a new civil enforcement regime to quickly and effectively deal with harmful digital communications
  • creating new criminal offences to deal with the most serious harmful digital communications

Download our Harmful Digital Communications Fact Sheet for more background information on the Bill.

Bring your Lunch, Tea & Coffee provided, find out more in our calendar entry.