Allowing people a voice

datePosted on 12:29, August 1st, 2009 by Anita

Sam speaks out publicly about the fact that ACC payments for counselling do not cover the full cost of each counselling session and victims of crime like Sam are left to scrape together the difference. What information should Nick Smith be able to release about Sam’s circumstances? Should that include that Sam, who was sexually abused by a female caregiver when he was a child, insists on seeing a male counsellor, and in his small town there is only one appropriately qualified male counsellor and his rates are higher than average?

Chris is on the sickness benefit and speaks out publicly about the fact MSD won’t help with the high transport costs of getting to specialist appointments. What information should Paula Bennett be able to release about Chris? Should that include the fact that since Chris’ last psychotic episode, in which she threatened to stab her nieces and nephew, she has moved out of her sister’s home near the specialist and back to her parents who live in a semi-rural area with no public transport?

Moana, who has a full time job, speaks to the select committee considering leave provisions about the hardship that compulsory christmas closedowns cause non-custodial parents and talks about her employer requiring a three week closedown. What information should Moana’s employer be able to release? Should that include the fact that Moana’s leave situation is atypical in that workplace and is due her taking extended leave earlier in the year to attend a residential alcohol programme and using annual leave to have supervised contact with her children whose father moved them out of town when her violence and drinking became dangerous?

Sam, Chris and Moana should feel safe speaking publicly about those issues of government policy. None are lying, none are misrepresenting their own situation, each is raising a genuine issue of policy. For each the disclosure of their personal circumstances could cause significant shame, damage to relationships and support networks, and provide a huge disincentive to speaking publicly.

Being a democracy is about more than giving everyone a vote, it’s about allowing everyone a voice.

[This post was originally a comment in reply to jcuknz in this thread.]

7 Responses to “Allowing people a voice”

  1. QoT on August 2nd, 2009 at 00:52

    Allow me to anticipate the usual objecters: “Oh, but they’re not telling the whole story! We need all the facts to make an informed judgement! Sam needs to man up! Chris should stop expecting a free ride! Moana gave implied consent!”

    Because even humanizing the stories doesn’t make a difference to some people until the human is them.

  2. jcuknz on August 2nd, 2009 at 08:45

    QoT I suggest you read my reply in the original thread. I like Kiwipolitico becuase normally people discus the matter in hand and do not engage in snide personalities as you find on Kiwiblog and your own blog. Have you banned me yet? I plan to write on my own blog about the places I’ve been banned from :-)

  3. Boganette on August 2nd, 2009 at 10:15

    Wow it took even less time for Jcuk to plug his blog than I thought it would.

  4. QoT on August 2nd, 2009 at 12:39

    QoT I suggest you read my reply in the original thread.

    I did. Unless there was invisible text I couldn’t see, it fully justified my comment, as you declared people who “live off the public purse” have no right to privacy about their income details, and accused the Johnston and Fuller of spreading “misinformation” and being “bludgers”.

  5. jcuknz on August 2nd, 2009 at 21:20

    QoT — you mis-represent me. ‘Bludgers’ is your term not mine, unless you have edited my post to conform with your view, like you engage in the childish practice of deleting the vowels as part of your moderation facility.

  6. Lew on August 2nd, 2009 at 21:23

    Can you two take your bickering to your own blogs? It’s really no fun to watch unless it’s happening in person. Cheers :)


  7. Anita on August 2nd, 2009 at 21:23


    I have no real idea what you’re fighting about, any chance you could keep it away from here?

    Lew: snap! :)

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