Committing to Wellbeing

Committing to Wellbeing

This election we’re asking the politicians to commit to providing a collection of public services that will help ensure the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

The Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment was unveiled at the launch of our Let’s Do Even BETTER Election Campaign.

Healthcare, education, housing, income support, public transport and internet are the services we believe government should commit to providing for all its citizens.

These basics of life are key to giving each of us the opportunity to reach our potential and enable communities to flourish.


At the campaign launch, PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk said our members in community and public services always do brilliant work, but it has become more visible during the Covid Crisis.

Erin says our members don’t just expect a pat on the back for their contribution - but they do want to reduce the inequalities that existed pre-Covid.

“They want a fairer society and a more equitable society out of this and the Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment does that.

“We can start looking at universal and genuinely free health care and internet and other public services.”


The launch also heard how providing universal basic services through the Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment would be the most efficient and cost-effective way of meeting the needs of all our people.

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Andrew Percy and Max Rashbrooke appear on screen with MC Jess Bates

University College of London Institute of Global Prosperity director Andrew Percy has been considering what a modern society needs to provide to maximise the potential of its citizens.

After five years of researching how services are delivered in different countries he’s come to a firm conclusion.

“How can we afford what citizens cannot afford to build themselves?

“If you look at what’s working where, you’ll see that if you build it as a service and distribute it universally, you end up having much better reach, costs are kept low, and you tend to have much lower carbon intensity.”

Andrew says research shows distributing money to individuals to pay for services through a universal basic income does not deliver the same results.

“By taking away those unavoidable costs and replacing them with services, you are delivering a social wage, boosting peoples’ incomes in a way that is much more effective, especially at the lower end of the income scale.”


During the launch academic and commentator, Max Rashbrooke spoke about the inequalities that already existed in Aotearoa pre-Covid and how they will be exacerbated by increasing unemployment.

Figures show 51,000 working households were living in poverty prior to lockdown, while almost 600,000 hardship assistance grants were made in the March quarter this year.

The Welfare Expert Advisory Group says benefits need to be increased by 12-47% to make them liveable.

“What is really important about the idea of universal basic services, the Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment, is that it’s a statement about wanting to ensure the collective success of society,” Max says.

“A genuine commitment through politics to ensuring... support is delivered to those that have helped create the society that we work in, and that is the most vulnerable, just as much as it is the most wealthy.”


Greenpeace journalist Amanda Larsson told the launch she “loves” the idea of universal basic services.

Amanda highlighted the potential environmental benefits, including the reduction in carbon emissions that would result from providing universal access to public transport.

Good quality housing would be more resilient to the impacts of climate change, and cut emissions by decreasing the use of coal and gas.

Amanda says the rebuild from Covid also provides an opportunity to create employment opportunities that will address the challenges of climate change and ecological devastation.

“Putting in solar panels and insulation in hundreds of thousands of homes, building wind turbines, railways, cycleways, restoring nature.. this is really jobs rich work.”

She says when people’s basics are covered they have the ability and energy to look up.

“They’ll have time to fight, to protect our children’s future, protect our treasured places.”


British researcher Andrew Percy says political support is increasing globally for growing public services.

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CTU's Melissa Ansell-Bridges, PSA campaign manager Brendon Lane, and kaumatua for the launch Allan Franks

Universal basic services were at the core of the UK Labour Party’s manifesto last year, while analysis of Britain’s digital inclusion policy found there was a £15 benefit for every £1 invested.

The President of Ireland is also calling for universal basic services, while US Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has announced a $770 billion childcare and adult social care package.

“These ideas are at the centre of what people are looking at,” Andrew says.

“Major institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are advising governments to create a new social contract, build up your safety net, and increase the resilience in communities.”

For more info on the Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment go to


 Main photo caption: Greenpeace journalist Amanda Larsson, PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk, support worker delegate Simone Best, and MC Jess Bates at campaign launch












Also in this issue:

Let’s Do Even BETTER

As we count down to Election 2020 we face a choice.

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Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment: Key First Steps

So how can we build a better Aotearoa together? Here are the first steps towards fulfilling the Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment.

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Support Builds for Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment

PSA members and the wider union movement are voicing their support for the Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment.

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What do the politicians think?

Find out how the parties rate in our 2020 election scorecard:

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New Act affirms right to political expression

In the lead-up to the general election, the PSA welcomes the new Public Service Act’s affirmation that public servants have the same rights of political expression and freedoms as all other New Zealanders.

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New law a pathway for pay equity

It was a moment to savour for all of us who have been campaigning for pay equity.

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Supporting our Frontline Workers

The people who work on our border and in managed isolation and quarantine facilities are among those doing it tough as the battle against Covid-19 continues.

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“The virus doesn’t discriminate, neither should we”

PSA Pasefika union members have been voicing their support for the Pasefika community during the latest Covid outbreak.

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Reflections of a Webinar MC

Our Progressive Thinking webinar series has provided an opportunity for conversations about new ‘Perspectives on the Future of Public and Community Services’.

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Raising waka, not just yachts

Covid-19 has revealed how institutions in Te Ao Māori can react decisively and positively on behalf of their people, DR AMOHIA BOULTON and DEB TE KAWA write in their chapter in our Progressive Thinking series.

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Raising waka: Reflections from Te Rūnanga

Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina KUIA GEORGINA KERR supports the assessment of Progressive Thinking authors Dr Amohia Boulton and Deb Te Kawa that the overall Māori response to the initial Covid crisis was exceptionally well done.

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“We did good”

Union members are celebrating two new collective employment agreements in the community and public service sector

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Unions seek election commitments for workers

Here's what the Council of Trade Unons is asking the political parties to commit to this election:

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Safer Sick Leave

PSA delegate Bob Renshaw was among the essential workers who presented a petition calling for safer sick leave to Workplace Relations Minister Andrew Little on September 1.

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Attacks on Filipino Unionists Condemned

The murders of dozens of trade unionists in the Philippines sparked a protest in Wellington in July.

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Out of Office

He may be humble but honours have come the way of horticulture expert Murray Dawson.

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On the Job

Donna Wealleans says support workers are told they shouldn’t get attached to their clients. But she believes you shouldn’t be doing the job if you don’t care.

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An amazing four years

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It is with mixed feelings that I sit down to write my last message to you all as PSA President.

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Climate Change is a whole of union issue

Kia ora PSA members!

Climate change is something that will impact every living thing on our planet. Should we as union members be actively working to fight it? Should climate change be one of our Strategic Goals?

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News in Brief

Protests at proposed cuts at Canterbury DHB, a campaign for home support with dignity, the PSA member card goes digital and other stories feature in our News in Brief.

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Te Tohu Reorua: Bilingual Signage

While we've just celebrated Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, there are many ways we can help promote the language all year round.

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Around and About Pics

Photos from protests against proposed cuts at Canterbury DHB, and attacks on Filipino unionists, along with the presentation of the Safer Sick Leave petition feature in our Around and About pages.

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