Friday, 30 November 2012

Hardest Blog I have ever had to write - Part 2!!

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!

It’s 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.

I 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

Answer - (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 believe.

Question 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.

Answer - 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!!

Question 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.

Answer - 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.

Question 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 that.

Answer - 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.

Answer - 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.

A 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.

All 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!!!).  

I 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 -

Oral Submission

The 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.   

I 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.

This 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 their families.

Why 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 children.

This 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.

I 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.

Perhaps 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.

Children 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.

Why 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.

I 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.

Either 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.

Every 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.

I 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.


  1. Well done Kate.
    May God use your powers of persuasion, along with those of many others, to achieve his purposes in this country, which is increasingly turning it's back upon wisdom.
    You sound like a great Mum and a valuable citizen of our dear country.
    God Bless you

  2. Thank you for stepping up Kate, well done!

  3. Kate,
    I am soo thrilled that you were given the wisdom and understanding to be able to so clearly present to the select committee the reality of what true motherhood should be about. May God continue to grant you strength, wisdom, grace and favour as you pursue the most honourable of professions. Blessings be multiplied to you and your children.
    Jo Frazer

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, it means so much to me thank you.


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