1000’s of girls who had advantages docked as a result of they would not title kid’s father could possibly be entitled to lump sums – welfare advocates

The advocacy group wants MSD to proactively repay people

Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) has 38 similar cases on the books of women appealing past MSD sanctions in hopes of years of deductions being paid back.

One of these women has been waiting for a decision for more than two years.

AAAP coordinator Brooke Pao Stanley said the pace of reviews is painful and they are currently awaiting decisions on several cases.

“We waited for the request we made on behalf of these women to hear about them from MSD … some from October 2019.

“I think it reflects the fact that some of these women have been sanctioned since the 80’s, I think it reflects the MSD system itself, it’s too old.

“There aren’t enough resources or manpower at MSD to make sure these women get what they owe.”

Pao Stanley said it was a cruel and inhumane punishment.

“The level of performance in this country is already so low. Any type of money that is withdrawn or given is a big deal to people because it is so low.

“It makes a difference whether you can afford to eat, pay your electricity bill or pay your rent.

“For many of us it is natural to get paid. For so many of us in this country it is a real privilege.

“But it means a lot to people who have been making it difficult for ages.”

Pao Stanley said there are many reasons a woman might not name her child’s father – mostly out of fear of violence.

“Lots of trauma. Sometimes the men don’t want to sign their children’s birth certificates.

“For these women, it’s about protecting themselves and their children.

“It’s very hard. And there is a lot of judgment in the room.

“People have to experience anew [the] Traumas or their own sexual history with strangers – people they don’t know for work and income.

“It’s a very sensitive issue, but … in order to get this money for you and your families, it’s kind of a process that MSD goes through for you.”

She estimates that there will be thousands of women who will not know they are eligible for back payment after the sanction is lifted.

“We’d love for MSD to proactively start repaying payments to people, going through their own files, seeing who was sanctioned, and giving people their money back, giving them what they owe.”

In response, MSD spokesman Kay Read said the ministry was moving as quickly as possible in light of the increased workload resulting from COVID-19.

“Typically, this type of review is complex in that it covers events that occurred some time ago.

“When we review a case, we also look at changes in circumstances over time. In some cases, circumstances may have changed and a sanction may no longer apply, but we may not have been notified of that change.

“A sanction may correctly apply to some, but not to the entire period.”

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