What a day!! I appeared before the select committee at the Novotel in Auckland today for what was possibly one of the most nerve wracking experiences of my existence. I got there early enough to see other submissions including a Doctor who was absolutely fascinating and who brought up points of objection that I had not even contemplated and I found myself furiously scribbling down most of what she was saying just to remember it for future use. However my hand was shaking so much with nerves I am not sure how readable any of it will actually be!
a fairly intimidating experience with the committee sat around three
sides of a square with you sitting on your lonesome (in my case) in
front of the panel. They welcomed me and off I went. I found it
incredibly hard even with my public speaking and acting experience under
my belt not to become overwhelmed by the emotion behind what I feel.
It took everything I had to keep it together. I tried my best to
remember what I had written and not read it off the page as I wanted to
see what impact I was having on the members and make eye contact with as
many as I could.
can’t tell you how relieved I was when I knew I had got to my last
paragraph. My oral submission was really well received by the committee
who congratulated me (well most of them!) for a passionate and well
reasoned piece. Then the questions started....I think nearly every
person there asked me something. I can’t remember all of them but a few
of them below.
Question 1 - Did I feel my children got the necessary and normal socialisation required by not attending ECE and School
- (This old cookie!!) Do you think it is normal to put a child of three
into a classroom of 30 other 3 year olds? My children are far more
widely socialised than this and attend sports, clubs, dance and Sunday
school where they mix with an age group of babies to old people. My
children are far more widely socialised than your average child I
2 - The lady asking this question was very nice and said I did not have
to answer this question if I didn’t want to, the question was - Due to
the element of abuse within my marriage what extra help or support did
my children require coming out of the relationship.
- I explained that I thought single parents who have come out of an
abusive relationship whether that be verbal or serious physical abuse
need to provide their children with extra support. I know I babbled a
bit more but it’s all a bit of a haze now!!
3 - (The only objectionable member in the room, giving all speakers a
hard time) Did I really believe ECE was a form of child abuse.
- At this point I was extremely glad I had taken the advice of someone
whose opinion means a lot to me and reworded what I had originally
written as I was able to answer with the following - I did not say that
ECE was a form of child abuse I said Obesity is a form of child abuse
and if there is proof that children in ECE were 50% more likely to
suffer with obesity then it was yet another reason not to send my child.
4 - (He continued with another question) What’s so bad about ECE, I
sent my kids and they turned out alright and it was an important part of
their day it’s only 3 hours a day you could fit everything else around
- Was hard to answer this as he kept interrupting but I basically said
how long have you got?! I mentioned the studies from my submission and I
also mentioned how difficult it would be from a practical point of view
from where I live.
Question 5 - Would I be happy if a form of exemption was introduced for homeschoolers that would include preschoolers too.
- I said that ECE should be a choice for all New Zealanders regardless
of whether they were on benefit or not but if this was the only option
to save me putting my children into ECE then that would be something.
debate then ensued between the various members of the committee and the
very awesome Jacinda Ardern reminded other members that according to
these new regulations I would be forced to put my eldest in school too
and this needed immediate attention as it simply was not right. Some
members seemed to have no idea that this was so and that beneficiaries
would not be allowed to homeschool. In fact one member came up to me
afterwards to talk to me specifically about that aspect as he had no
idea this formed part of this bill. I have to say that didn’t exactly
inspire me with confidence.
in all it went really well, I felt like I handled myself well and spoke
coherently and intelligently (most of the time). The Chairman came up
to me during the coffee break as did four other members of the panel and
assured me that they would take everything I said very seriously and
they would be looking into the matters of homeschooling as they had been
overwhelmed on this front. (Go homeschoolers!!!).
thought I would feel like it was a big waste of time that the bill
would go through regardless of how much fuss we may kick up but you know
what, this committee (mostly) all listened to what I had to say with an
open mind and I felt like there was every chance that this bill will be
looked at again but only time will tell!
Below is roughly what I said today -
role of a mother used to be viewed in society as the most precious job a
woman could do…what happened? I did not choose to become a single
Mother with two young children to support on my own. To be honest I am
not sure if anyone would consciously choose to live that life, it’s
really hard emotionally, physically and financially. As a single Mother
or Father your job description is not just that of the Mother/Father
but nurturer, doctor, nurse, teacher, cab driver, cook, housekeeper,
clothes washer, cheerleader, disciplinarian and so much more. We do it
all for nothing except love.
became a single parent to protect my children from an escalating
situation of verbal abuse within my marriage. My choice to leave is I
believe the most courageous decision I have ever made in my life and one
where my children’s welfare was at the very core of my decision.
new discriminatory Social Security Amendment Bill does not
differentiate between neglectful and responsible parents. It targets all
parents receiving state assistance no matter what their state of mind;
their parenting philosophies, or what their future plans may be for
is it suddenly deemed ok to remove rights from a certain group of
NZer's – a set of people already facing huge challenges everyday, single
struggling parents and their children? Instead of supporting these
parents in their parenting roles, this bill seeks to punish them by
removing their basic rights to choose what is best for their own
one−size−fits−all government policy goes against my human rights New
Zealand has understood and stated its ratification to the United Nations
and the Declaration of Human Rights International Standards
(E/C.12/1999/10,Article 13.29). If this Bill becomes law, New Zealand
will not only be in the international spotlight as a country that holds
contempt for The United Nations and their bills for Human Rights, but
there will be more broken families and troubled children because of it.
understand that the intent of the Bill is the protection of vulnerable
children, but I believe a targeted approach would be more effective.
Lumping us all in a category of neglectful abusive parents is simply not
justified. There is nothing more precious or important to me in my
life than my two girls Charlotte and Rosie.
the government could use their time and finances more effectively and
tackle the rising cases of child abuse in this country and increase
their promise of cutting the abuse from 5% to 50%, I am quite sure the
entire country would be behind such a brave move.
of solo parents are already forced to live with only one parent why
push to also separate them from the one loving parent they have left? I
believe the most valuable contribution to our society I can make at this
point in my life, is to invest myself and my time in raising my two
girls to be moral, well educated, motivated, skilled, capable,
contributing members of society.
is motherhood is no longer a valid job for a woman? Or is it still
valuable as long as you can afford the luxury and don’t find yourself at
the mercy of having to ask for help from our government? (Which I might
add is a very difficult thing to do) As a single Mum I work seven days a
week three hundred and sixty-five days a year. We don’t get holidays,
sick pay, bank holidays, pension, health or a dental plan but I do it
all with a glad and loving heart. Do we now expect our single parents
to manage all this plus find employment whilst dumping our children in
someone else’s care for the government to pick up that bill instead, it
seems a little ludicrous to me, that I am willing and able to give my
two girls the absolute best care, love and education and yet you want to
force me into placing them into kindy and school. Homeschooling in New
Zealand saves our government thousands of dollars even from those
receiving benefit. Once again this is why a one size fits all policy
does not work.
mentioned in my submission a number of reasons why I am totally against
my children attending ECE or school but would like to draw the
committee’s attention to another recent study undertaken by researchers
at University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital Research
Centre in Canada that has been in the news in the last two weeks. This
is the correlation between children attending early childhood/Kindy
facilities and a 50% increase in obesity. The researchers are at a loss
to explain the clear and very real link. It would be my suggestion that
working parents, in particular a single working parent that has all the
responsibility squarely on one set of shoulders is simply not superhuman
to provide healthy nutritious meals at the end of a long working day
and are too exhausted to do anything but reach for the nearest takeaway
menu or processed meal from their freezer compartment.
that or perhaps we are seeing the beginnings of comfort eating in our
little people from being separated unnecessarily from their loving
parent. In light of these internationally recognized findings I believe
that in the words of one of the researchers sending some children into
day care could be viewed as a form of child abuse and I for one am not
willing to take the chance and inflict unnecessary state care on my
children. New Zealand is in the grip of an obesity problem and it is as
dangerous as smoking, drinking or taking drugs, none of which I am sure
you would force on my children.
child is different and copes differently. It would not be in my
children’s best interests to send them to ECE or school in fact I
believe that it would be to their great detriment. My children are
thriving at home and when compared to their peers appear to be doing
better in every way from their education to emotional well being.
Neither of my children wishes to be separated from me and I believe it
would cause them both a great deal of unnecessary heartache and upset to
force them out of my care into state care.
urge you with all my heart and soul not to take away my God given right
to educate and care for my children as I see fit because I have fallen
on difficult times and I am unable to support myself fully without help.
I ask instead for you to support single parents whilst their children
are little and value our importance as Mothers and Fathers and our
extraordinarily important role in society.