Social work and social investment: Fear and loathing in Aotearoa

The so-called social investment strategy being implemented by the current Government is based on a narrow individualised analysis of the causes of poor social outcomes. The intent is to spend some money on problem people now in order to reduce social costs in the future. The specific focus is on reducing the long term cost of benefits and prisons.

Like much ideologically loaded social policy there is a strong superficial appeal. Social service workers are familiar with the idea that social deficits can be inter-generationally reproduced and that the traumatic effects of violence and abuse can echo down the generations. It is a short step from this insight to accepting the idea that we need to fix these people – efficiently and effectively, once and for all.

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Investing in children

This guest blog post is by Mike O’Brien. Mike is an Associate Professor at the School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work at the University of Auckland and has previously been the Head of the School of Social and Cultural Studies at Massey University. Mike chaired the Alternative Welfare Working Group in 2011. He is a Board member at Te Waipuna Puawai and of the Auckland City Mission and is a member of the Impacts of Poverty and Exclusion policy group for the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services. He is also the social security spokesperson for the Child Poverty Action Working Group. In this post he discusses the meaning of the “investment approach” in the context of New Zealand government;’ review of Child, Youth and Family Services.

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