Brutal day of Govt cuts, axing support for children and young people

The brutal and rushed nature of the Government’s spending cuts have been exposed with two critical agencies supporting children, and young people proposing to shed 1012 jobs.

“Today is a black day for public service workers and the children and young people they support, with savage cuts that we believe will not deliver the better outcomes the Government promises,” said Fleur Fitzsimons, Assistant Secretary for the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi.

“Today hundreds of dedicated public servants were told their jobs are gone and now face an uncertain future. This is causing incredible distress to them and their families. Our message to them is this is not about you, it’s not a reflection on the work you do or the contribution you have made to our nation but about the Government’s heartless and chaotic approach to cutting public services.

“Oranga Tamariki and the Ministry of Education are vital agencies, yet they are being stripped of more than 1000 roles in proposals with no clear direction from the Government as to what will happen to savings.”

The Government has promised to reinvest all savings into so called frontline services, but there is no obvious plan to do this and yet they are prepared to dismiss highly experienced and skilled public service workers the taxpayer has invested in.

“Both agencies are large and complex with many moving parts. Every worker plays an important role in delivering a better future for children and young people, yet both stand to lose hundreds of dedicated public servants, around one in ten workers.

“We know these cuts will have a negative impact on tamariki, rangatahi, whānau and communities and that the work of teachers and social workers will be made harder despite the Government’s promise that frontline services will not be impacted,” said Fleur Fitzsimons.

Oranga Tamariki

The proposed cuts target one in four jobs in the support functions and 9% of the total workforce.

“Oranga Tamariki has been subject to review-after-review in recent years with significant leadership changes. No review has ever concluded that large scale dismissals of specialist staff is the answer.

“Yet today we have a restructure which sheds skilled workers and loads up those who remain with new responsibilities simply to save money. The stakes are too high to take this approach, with the lives and wellbeing of tamariki and rangatahi at risk.

“The Government is asking New Zealand to take a massive leap of faith without showing any of the thinking behind it beyond cutting costs.

“Worryingly, one area where the savings will go are the proposed boot camps which the evidence shows don’t work. Oranga Tamariki has already advised the Minister that ‘traditional military-based approaches for those who have experienced trauma or have a disability will not lead to better long-term outcomes’.

“This rushed response dooms us to repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education change proposal covers the frontline of the Ministry. This workforce supports teachers and students in schools and early childhood centres. Many are located across the country close to schools and communities.

“This plan includes scrapping 87 jobs in the regions – people doing work including supporting children with disabilities, migrant and refugee children, advising schools on accessing speech and language therapy, lifting student achievement and helping ensure schools run smoothly,” said Fleur Fitzsimons.

“There is a net reduction of 38 roles supporting learners with disabilities and others needing additional learning support, 16 of these are in National Office and another 22 across the regions.

“There are already major problems for families getting the learning support their children and young people need, these cuts will make it worse.

“The Government said that cuts would not impact frontline services but these proposals show that is not true.

“The Ministry’s capability to provide the leadership that schools are looking for on the curriculum is undercut by slashing 202 jobs out of its still-relatively-new Curriculum Centre. While the Government has delayed changes to NCEA levels two and three for two years, it’s clear that these roles will be needed again from 2026, so it’s woefully short-sighted to be shedding all the experience and expertise now.

“At a time when student achievement is falling, when school attendance is a challenge, where is the plan for Education? It doesn’t add up.

“There are other proposals which also worry us. The Government is backing away from the Healthy School Lunches programme, with proposed dismissal of eight nutrition experts, and at least six advisors, including a Te Aō Māori advisor and food safety advisor are losing their roles. The evidence is clear, free school lunches help students learn, but the Government seems intent on ignoring evidence in this case because of the cost. It’s just more short-term thinking,” said Fleur Fitzsimons.

/Public Release. View in full here.