Launch of Baptist ActionPrime Minister
Friday, 13 August 1999 2:15 pm
I call on New Zealanders to care for the spiritual and emotional development of our people.
When children, and sometimes adults, are victims of abuse they can lose the ability to cope emotionally and spiritually.
So who cares for broken hearted and those with broken lives?
The answer is that it is a mixed bag. Many manage somehow themselves. Many manage with the support of the taxpayer, and some with a mix of the taxpayer and brilliant agencies such as Baptist Action.
We are and must remain partners in this concern.
This is a wonderful country where we all agree we will share what we have by providing through the tax system a comprehensive work and income service for those who need our collective support and care.
Today almost all New Zealanders believe in shared responsibility for those in need. That is the New Zealand ethos. The only question is how best to put that into practice.
From the Government's point of view, I'm proud to say since the early 1990s we've turned the welfare system around to focus on wellbeing rather than welfare, and hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders are better off for it.
We don't just hand beneficiaries a welfare cheque and ignore them. We get alongside them and encourage them to set goals and make plans for their lives.
We expect them to work for the community wage if they can. That's vital. It's recognition that social security is a two-way street.
And many of these people while establishing work habits are making a terrific contribution to the communities in which they live.
For some families, though, this is not enough. Their lives are complicated. They've often been victims of circumstances or events that were not their fault, but which cause enormous damage and harm to their lives.
These people need our care, support and often services as they not only survive but also recover. That's where services like this come in.
I have enormous respect for the practical work that people such as Baptist Action are making.
You truly have the potential to be catalysts to make a difference in New Zealand.
But to be really effective, I think churches need to be brave about asserting their leadership. Churches have traditionally been major institutional agents for good in our community.
You helped set the boundaries, lead community and public opinion and find workable solutions to our major problems.
Yet rightly or wrongly most of our churches long ago abandoned the notion that they could or should tell people what's good for them. Some would say, fair enough - it's better to empower and involve people in coming up with their own solutions.
But it's not coincidental that, at the same time as they abandoned their moral right to stand up for clear, strong values, most mainstream churches have been experiencing dwindling congregations.
There are other changes that have converged with this trend. The wider access to television and information sets different "universal" values, expectations and aspirations, many of which are unrealistic, undesirable or unattainable.
Baptist Action is confronting the modern world with a strong attitude, skilled and committed people and a determination to provide caring support which includes addressing the emotional and spiritual aspects of peoples' lives.
The Government, through the many agencies, publicly, privately and voluntarily operated, is rising to the challenges.
While there is still much to be done, much is being achieved.
Public and private effort will make New Zealand strong if we are prepared to develop strategies together which can make a difference.
Baptist Action, through its determination, is helping people who are often victims to become successes who can move on in their lives with renewed strength.