Comment of the Day

The ultimate goal - no more 'clients' for WINZ

Eiselmann wrote:

Did 13 years [at DSW/Winz] from 1986 to 1999 at various South Auckland offices, including one with a case load of 3000 per staff member when the ideal ratio was deemed 250 to 1.

I experienced the best and the worst of people both staff and on the benefit. Violence, threats happened every day and policy around assistance changed with each news headline…media focused on people struggling suddenly the rules around granting of SNG (Special needs grants) and Advances were relaxed…media focused on out of control government spending and the rules tightened, so you had cases of people getting money for food one week and the following week same set of circumstances and they got nothing. I tell you that caused havoc and happened more times than you’d think.

And back then there was no security.

It was an utterly thankless job you were blamed for every woe , and every person you saw was under pressure and looking at you to solve their problems…imagine dealing with that 30, 40 times a day every day, having people come in angry, upset, demanding money or their kids go hungry. Imagine being alone in room full of patched gang members and having to say no. Imagine having to interview a drugged out pregnant teenage girl or a woman who’s face is a mess of bruises, imagine seeing kids punched by their parents to make them cry so that they would get seen quicker. Imagine all that and so much more and you can’t react to any of it.

Most people couldn’t do that.


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  • XCIA

    I used to look out of my office window on the eighth floor of the Methodist Mission building on benefit day to see a virtual perpetual line of taxis outside the building opposite.

  • sandalwood789

    Thank goodness that the government seems to be making a great effort to keep young people (in particular) off welfare. That is *crucial*. The longer that they can be kept away from joining the “welfare trap”, the better.

    • Eiselmann

      Couldn’t agree more…one of my very last interview’s was with the granddaughter of the woman who was the second person I ever interviewed (unusual family name so it stuck in my memory) . Thats three generations who had never worked/or had no plans to

      The Grand-daughters baby would now be 17 …I’d like to think that child has a chance to be something more …

      • biscuit barrel

        How would that be. DPB was indroduced in 1974, so thats 25 years till the time you left. By most reckoning thats one generation.

        I think your conclusions dont add up. memory does play tricks after the years. cant be 3 gens who didnt work

        • Eiselmann

          Well the grandmother was on DPB when I started at DSW and had been for a while, she certainly had me running around in circles that first time .

          And her oldest daughter was already a mother and on benefit at that time, I know that because the daughter was with her waiting for her own interveiw

          That daughters child 13 years later applied for benefit with her own child.

          • biscuit barrel

            That makes even less sense as you were there roughly half the 25 years of the DPB till 99. And yet you still claim 3 gens in 13 years

          • Eiselmann

            Okay without recalling the specific age of the grandmother ,,,if I interveiwed her in 1986 and she was say 40(and she was definately in her 40’s)….and in 1986 her eldest would have been 22-23(certainly young 20’s) and granddaughter would have around 4 or 5…

            so thats in 1986, two generations on the benefit) one of whom certainly had been on the benefit since leaving school the other had been on the benefit for a number of years (thou I’m happy to concede that the grandmother may have worked prior to going on the benefit or been supported by a husband who worked)

            by 1999 the granddaughter is 18 and a mother…the third generation on the benefit

          • Keyser Soze

            What is the point of your comments? If you’ve got something to say about benefits go for it, I’m all ears. For some bizarre reason you seem adamant that Eiselmann is making it all up. Why? You don’t think a family couldn’t possibly have three generations on the benefits? Why not, you’re clearly no mathematician.

          • Eiselmann

            Was thinking that as well, the only way the math given would stand up is if I said something akin to having granted DPB to the mother in 1986 for her new born baby and then subsequently granting a DPB to the then 13 year old grand-daughter in 1999 which if I had said that , it would be clearly false.

            Also as an aside thou it doesn’t change the circumstances of my dealings with this particular family and the timeline I discribed,,the 25 year thing per generation is not , in my experience atypical among generational beneficaries, often (too often) girls were becoming mothers at 16-17 would then add their child into their mothers benefit until they turned 18 and qualified for DPB in their own right. So by 25 they could have had 3-4-5 kids

          • Keyser Soze

            Well, you’re a lot more patient with BB than I would have been!

            In my work I regularly see households full of intergenerational welfare dependants breeding more generations of the same. They know no other lifestyle and don’t want to know. They are broken. We (society) have failed them by sending a long loud clear message that it’s ok to sit around popping out kids that equate to more dollars in their pay packets each week. Then we allow them to spend it on anything but the welfare of those children while we sit around collectively wonder about child poverty!!! The system is broken.

  • Dave

    A good insight into what some face in and out, thanks to Eiselmann, I doubt I could do what you managed to do.

    To me, it reinforces we have things round the wrong way in terms of the welfare state. Surely a system of intense short term assistance, then you are on your own is better than the entrenched welfarism so many are demanding, and have become totally addicted to.

    I’m thinking of:
    * Intense help for up to 6 months
    * Rentals for 2 years MAX, then your out.
    * Help to include job training, budgeting, clothing to get work etc

    As soon as bonds are broken, drugs or alcohol, two appointments broken and so on, the assistance is over, go cope somewhere else – by yourself.

    We currently give away all sorts of help, to too many who refuse to change, and will always hold their hand out, perhaps we need these ones to be in homeless shelters, a small 2.0 x 2.0 meter room with a bunk and a light, similar to the transit rooms in Tokyo airport.

    Does society own every person who refuses to get on their feet and try a living?

  • RightofSingapore

    Those abusing staff and making threats should be penalised-thats our money these people are getting so they need to show some gratitude and respect. When you abuse and threaten those giving out the money then the money flow should be reduced.

    • Rick H

      The word is “Stopped” ROC.

    • rua kenana

      And what would you do about those who try hard not to give out the money they are legally required to and eventually need to be compelled to do so?
      Should their salary be reduced? And I suppose pigs might fly.

  • Dave of the West Bank

    Well said, Eiselmann.

    A bit like a soldier trying to describe life at the front to the ignorant at home.

  • rua kenana

    My only experience with DSW was trying to get a grant from them to which I was very clearly and unambiguously legally entitled.
    They twisted and squirmed with all sorts of excuses, lost bits of paper, key staff sick and stuff like that and eventually decided not to pay the grant. So I just went further and further up the pecking order until the DSW CEO seemingly realised he might be in trouble with the minister and/or Ombudsman and paid up promptly without further ado.
    I don’t condone violence or bludging, but the situation is not quite as one-sided as indicated above and I can understand some people’s frustrations at being treated like ignorant sheep.
    Another time we were on the verge of getting the police to investigate the Department of Courts for failing to account for monies, but just in time got a frantic and contrite apology from the minister in charge who had the whole place turned upside down to sort out the mess. Apart from his apology, he said he had no explanation as to why letters to that department on that matter remained unanswered. I would think the departmental CEO in that case got a good and well-deserved kick up his tail end.
    It’s by no means always one-sided. Members of the public shouldn’t have to work through CEO’s and ministers to make public servants actually serve the public and fulfill their legal obligations.

    • Eiselmann

      Yeah sadly encountered that as well, there were some staff who really just didn’t care anymore or simply liked to say no because they could.

      Most weren;t like that , however I dealt with far too many R.O.D’s (review of decisons ) prepared too many reports for Benefit Review committees to not realise that some staff could turn down requests for assistance because it was ‘ ‘Tuesday’ as opppsed to an actual legitimate reason.

  • island time

    I recall back in the 90’s a Gang Leader calling my wife at our home (she was a case manager with WINZ). It was not threatening, he wanted assistance for someone and was very polite. BUT, he easily knew where w lived and our number etc. Even offered help to us if w needed it!!

  • JC

    Heh, when the wife and I went in to organise our superannuation we were terribly apprehensive because we had never dealt with a social welfare dept.

    It was a great experience! The staff were wonderful, welcoming and dying to help. It struck me then that people like us were a breath of fresh air compared to the daily grind of sorting out other peoples’ problems and attitudes.