Beneficiary mum has an epiphany

Harry Pearl reports

A 9-year-old’s comment about how “cool” it was to be on a benefit has changed a Huntly woman’s life.

Until six months ago, Judy Wilson was one of about 80,000 sole parents in New Zealand receiving a benefit.

She was devoted to raising her six children but, in her own words, she was also drinking, smoking, and not doing “anything”.

And she had been for close to 20 years.

Yikes. ?How did she react? ?

“It was my nine-year-old that said, ?It’s cool being on the benefit because you’ve been on it for so long, eh, mum. I’m going to go on the benefit too’.”

Wilson, 43, said she was “shocked” to think her circumstances would have such influence on her daughter, and the comments jolted her into action.

She started a six-week course at WINZ in order to pick up new skills and followed it up with another, more specific course, in caregiver training for about eight weeks.

Since July, she’s been working at Kimihia Home and Hospital in Huntly.

Fan bloody tastic.

First, credit to Stuff for doing a positive beneficiary story and not using them as cannon fodder to beat the government around the ears with.

Second, well done Judy for taking personal responsibility for your own life.

Third – she received training on the tax payers’ tab. ?Excellent.

Fourth – no whining how she is now only earning $2 more than on the benefit. Judy has found her pride!

People who get on a benefit as youths spend an average 18.9 years, costing $239,000.

At a glance, it’s been a similar story for Wilson. She had her first child at 20 and moved from Auckland back to her hometown Huntly, alone.

Her partner and father of her children stayed in Auckland, where Wilson had spent most of her teenage years.

She moved in with her nan, who needed care, and over the next 20 years gave birth to Tia Huia, Raiatea and Rangi Taiki, Marama and Wati o te aroha.

The children visited their father for holidays and he paid child support, but raising the children – who are now aged between 2 and 23 – fell overwhelmingly to Wilson.

Although there were intermittent periods of work, each time she was pregnant she returned to the DPB.

There is still a question about why the state should be supporting DPB life stylers. ? ?To them the DPB isn’t a safety net, it is a genuine lifestyle choice.

That should be made less attractive as we can’t count on all the other “Judys” to be jolted into self-respect by their own children.