Waikato University job cuts show no value of diversity

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The University of Waikato. Photo: WIE

Waikato University will see 17 jobs go by the wayside in a decision that is consistent with the trend of financially profitable education institutions that don’t care much about the individuality of students.

It is a case of news that has divided opinion, but not expectation. The long-planned medical school at Waikato University is the brain child of vice-chancellor Neil Quigley. The 17 job cuts are just the latest under his reign. Gone are the days when every subject was available in programmes that genuinely cared for students to succeed. Waikato University are building the new medical school out of want, not necessity.

In response, students have started a petition to stop the axing of programmes that will impact on the humanities. Over 2000 people signed that petition last week. The Waikato University has asked for feedback on the proposal by April 21st, but the news of a pushback has already made headlines.

The medical school will certainly do great things for Waikato University. Not the least of which is providing quality competition for the likes of Otago University, but it hasn’t come out of their own pocket. Sir Owen Glenn pledged $5million toward the school, sparking concern from Labour MP Chris Hipkins who questioned if Waikato University needed a medical school.

More doctors are needed in the Waikato, especially in the smaller rural areas. The Waikato DHB agree, and have joined with the University to make the project a reality.

All the above is true, but it will come at a cost, and that’s the saddest part of this story. Institutions need diversity, and for a long time, Waikato University has had a strong and respected music programme. This respect may not generate into substantial revenue at times, but it isn’t a reason to significantly reduce options for students who pay fees, therefore adding to the surplus that Waikato University already posted last year.

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Posted in Politics

Sport Waikato boss confident in new strategy

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The Moving Waikato 2025 strategy. Photo: Michael Pulman

Sport Waikato boss Matthew Cooper is confident that a new region wide strategy is the best way to get more people in the region fit and active, as well as improving capability within sport, recreation and physically activity in the Waikato region.

Moving Waikato 2025 is a new strategy aimed at addressing the dropping numbers of participation in sport and recreational activity in the Waikato.

According to the numbers, 54% of Waikato Adults (age 16 +) met the national physical activity guidelines in 2007. In 2016, that figure sat at 45%, and the overall cost of inactivity on the New Zealand health system is significant and rising.

Another problem for Sport Waikato is the region’s growing population. By 2030, population in the Waikato is expected to be 470,000, an increase of 16%.

Future proofing and provision of facilities in partnership with regional authorities is important for Sport Waikato, so that future populations can play and compete in sport.

“Back in 2014 we had a meeting with Sport New Zealand and we spoke a lot about what we’ve done but there wasn’t a lot about what we are going to do in the future”, Sport Waikato’s CEO Matthew Cooper said.

Lifestyles are changing and people don’t have as much time as they used to. In the past ten years alone, society’s mode of operation has changed more than it did in the previous century. This change is for a variety of reasons; not the least of which is the advances in technology and a greater shift toward online connectivity.

To counter this, Sport Waikato facilitated the development of the Moving Waikato 2025 Strategy in partnership with stakeholders.

“People are realising that if they can get out there and have a workout, they don’t need to only sign up to a club and pay annual subscriptions, informal options are also real and available”. Cooper said.

The plan focuses on three strategic priorities. The key areas of focus to grow participation in sport and recreational activity are Young People, Women and Girls, Maori, Rural Communities, and Aged Populations.

The slogan for the Moving Waikato 2025 strategy is ‘Together We Achieve More’ and encourages “Doing the work for the betterment of the people”.

The other two strategic priorities aligns to Building Communities (growing capability in the sector) and providing Regional Leadership.  A deliberate focus on partnerships to leverage and achieve more wins. But it goes deeper than that too.

Cooper believes that the landscape of sports for young people has changed rapidly, and potentially is creating a negative impact on young aspiring Waikato athletes/citizens of the future.

“Early specialisation has crept into schools, right down to the 12 and 13 year olds, that is wrong”, Cooper said. “There are some alarming stats that show those kids who specialised early don’t go on to continue playing sport once they leave high school. Cooper added.

Numbers show that only a small percentage of young teenage boys and girls in New Zealand schools will go on to play professional sport. The challenge for Sport Waikato, and other entities around the country, is to not only find a channel for this small portion of athletes to excel but also a variety of formal and informal options for the majority to increase participation numbers.

Sport Waikato will work alongside, sport, recreation, tertiary, education, health, local iwi, and local government to implement Moving Waikato 2025 over the next ten years.

 

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Posted in Sports

The investment behind impending Disability Support overhaul

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With just $1.8million set aside for the major overhaul to disability support, the Government could well be making similar mistakes that it has in the past,

Some people say that the intent behind the Government’s proposal for change is not to the real benefit of disabled people in New Zealand.

Frankly, it’s hard to argue with that. The way the Government choose to take the transformation of disability support will be interesting, but  there is going to be losers, and a lot of them in New Zealand’s disabled community.

Calls for total system change have been rife since a report back in 2008. Then, concerns were that the support system restricted people’s choice and control over the supports and structure of their lives.

The proof of similar mistakes occurring again can be seen in a cabinet paper that proposed system transformation to disability support.

The entire project has a total financial investment of $1.8million. But claims that that sum is an investment by Government are also up for scrutiny. According to the cabinet paper, the $1.8million used to fund the system transformation project has been taken from a $3million contingency already established by the Government. That bucket of $3million was set aside for supporting further work and development of Enabling Good Lives.

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A breakdown of the investment Government will put into DSS overhauls. Photo: Michael Pulman

This move can be seen in a couple of different ways, however. EGL (Enabling Good Lives) is a demonstration project that has been running in Christchurch and throughout the Waikato. If the system transformation works, using principles of EGL, the need for these two demonstrations no longer remains. If it doesn’t, chances are that the demonstrations will be forced to either stop, or continue minus the $1.8million batch of funding, therefore running at a loss of sorts.

Government have made it clear that any system transformation for disability support has to be cost-effective. In other words, make it work with $1.8million and offer little alternative. In the words of Sacha O’Dea from the Ministry of Health, the immediate future is that “everything stays exactly the same”.

The Minister for Disability Issues, Nicky Wagner, says that culture change within the disability support system will be significant. Within the last week, Idea Services (the operating arm of IHC) cut services that will affect 1200 users of disability support. When pressed on the matter, Wagner said that funding has increased across the disability sector.

“Idea Services will take a strength based approach and will focus on community residential and day services”, Wagner said. “In actual fact, funding for Idea Services has increased and this is absolutely in line with the increases that we have had right across the disability sector”, Wagner added.

The cabinet paper shows that an increase in funding has occurred, at a level of 4% over the course of the last ten years. That increase is spent across the Ministries of Health, Social Development, and Education; meaning a small impact at best.

So the question remains, can an overhaul that truly incorporates greater choice and control be a successful one for disabled people in New Zealand? It’s hard to imagine.

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Posted in Disability, Politics

Sexual consent protests ignore the bigger problem

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Sexual abuse isn’t the only thing that is being overlooked in New Zealand. Photo: Stuff

Recent protests and calls for consent to be a part of sex education is good to see, but a greater discussion about how young people make decisions in the first instance needs to be put on the table as well.

To introduce consent as part of sex education in schools is an excellent idea on all fronts.

The key to reducing New Zealand’s rape culture and numbers of sexual abuse in any form is parties from both gender being taught on a much more in depth and regular level in education.

Why? Because society today is more sexualised than ever before.

Sex is celebrated and encouraged in all forms of pop culture and media, so there is no surprise that people are pressured and encouraged to engage in the act at a far younger age than ever before. But on the other side of that, abuse of a sexual nature has always been something that has lurked behind closes doors. It’s nothing new. There are reasons for sexual abuse, and absolutely none of them are justified, but the reasons and the factors still exist nonetheless.

If you think I am justifying it then you might as well stop reading now.

There is a huge hypocrisy at play, and one that too many people won’t talk about. That hypocrisy is that so many won’t acknowledge the situations at play when things go wrong. That includes the victims themselves.

Parties, night clubs, alcohol, drugs, peer pressure, and hook up apps like Tinder are just a few of those factors. All these factors are at play in a lot of situations when the decisions are made that lead to sexual abuse occurring. But are we protecting ourselves to the very best of our abilities when these factors are at play? Hell no.

Music videos that have highly sexual undertones are accepted, movies that encourage BDSM and other acts of a sexual nature are accepted, and teenage girls sending out nude photos of themselves on platforms like Snapchat seem to be accepted as well. Apps like Tinder are built on people, who are often complete strangers, meeting up for quick acts of sexual engagement. When people join those apps they also take with it a knowledge of the potential risks that could occur. Before you read this and tell me I’m wrong, just go onto Google and research the countless number of examples of said risks.

If a teenager who has their face buried in a cell phone has time to join Tinder or look at nude pictures on Snapchat, he or she also has the time to further educate themselves using the countless examples that you see online.

The point? This is so relevant, and if you can’t see the answer as to why, then again I encourage you to just stop reading.

And yet, comments from a teenage boy about taking advantage a drunk girl have sparked outrage among the feminist movement. This led to a mass protest at Parliament where the group launched a petition to make education about consent and healthy relationships compulsory. The young man from Wellington College who posted “if you don’t take advantage of a drunk girl, you’re not a true WC boy” was uneducated. His comments were despicable but are a product of the society he lives in today. That’s not a cop out, nor is it condoning what he said in the now infamous post.

Further education is needed on all fronts when it comes to sex in today’s society. But if you want to talk about equality, then you also need to realise a couple of things.

In more ways than you’d realise, the choices young people make in the lead up to some of the horrid things that are happening in our nightclubs and at our parties play a huge factor in all of it. Sexual abuse shouldn’t be tolerated under any circumstances, but young people also choose not to educate themselves on it by dropping out of school early, ignoring their parents, or refusing to see the signs of danger even if they are obvious.

No certainly does mean no, but there is much more to each individual story and its case than the moment of abuse itself.

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Posted in Life Theory, Politics

Disabled people meet with Ministry’s transformation leader

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Disability support services are set to change. Photo: Stuff NZ

Two forums were held last week where Enabling Good Lives (EGL) participants in the Waikato could hear more about the future of the demonstration.

EGL was launched in the Waikato back in 2015 as part of a new model of disability supports that incorporate further choice and control for disabled people and their families.

The wider scope of the impending changes to disability support was also on the agenda at the forums, and Sacha O’Dea from the Ministry of Social Development was present to field questions.

“Everything stays exactly the same in the Waikato and their funding will continue until something else is rolled out”, O’Dea said.

O’Dea will manage a big chunk of the system transformation in her role as Programme Lead of System Transformation.

For the wider system transformation; a co-design group will be formed to come up with what the new system will provide to people with disabilities. Four disabled people and one representative of families will feature on that group amongst representatives from service providers, Government, and other key areas.

“It’s about understanding the population you’re working with and what the outcomes they want are. You’ve also got to look at what levels of funding they receive currently, and then you work out what additional improvements could be made with additional investment”, O’Dea said.

“We need to understand the level of funding currently available. It’s less about what the providers need and more about what individuals need to be able to purchase the right supports”, O’Dea added

Community inclusion and greater education about disability in schools was a key want for some of the participants at the forum. Just how this happens remains a big talking point among many in the disability sector, but O’Dea was adamant that getting disabled people doing more of the normal things in life was a good first step.

“People doing more things in everyday places will help to change attitudes in the community and the system transformation will allow them to have more choice over that”, O’Dea said.

The Waikato demonstration will continue until the wider transformation of the disability sector takes place. For now, decisions will be made by EGL’s Leadership Group in the Waikato will continue discussions about how to improve the services over the next two years.

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Posted in Disability, Politics

Hamilton mayor Andrew King indifferent on disabled community

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Hamilton mayor Andrew King. Photo: Newsday

Hamilton mayor Andrew King hasn’t had much to do with disability over the course of his life.

Disability advocates and group organisations will have to go to the council’s Community Committee to have their voices heard by the mayor.

Elected in October last year, King himself hasn’t spoken a lot about disability until this point.

“I don’t have a lot to do with people with disabilities so I don’t know”, the mayor said.

During the campaign; candidates for Hamilton mayor spoke to the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA) about access and disability. That night, King spoke of his first job where he was in contact with a tetraplegic man. That was on the campaign trail back in August 2016.

This week, King was asked if he would have discussions with the city’s disability community about their views on access issues and community inclusion. King’s response may alarm some in Hamilton’s disabled community; he was adamant that such conversations wouldn’t be a part of his mayoral responsibilities.

“No, I don’t need to know”, King said, “if there was a need then yes I would, but I don’t believe there is a real reason for me to get involved”, King added.

At the Hamilton City council, there are three social committees that cover community, infrastructure and growth, plus a finance committee. King believes that disability issues belong in with the community committee. King does sit on the community committee meetings but says he’d be hesitant to have a discussion with the council’s own Access Advisory Group.

The Access Advisory Group is a key part of disability advocacy at the Hamilton City Council. Together with the group, the council has a Disability Policy that promises to ensure that council services, activities, and facilities will be responsive to the needs of disabled people. King says he doesn’t have contact with the Access Advisory Group.

“The community committee is where those discussions would be appropriate” King said, “it’s not something I am prepared to take on without support from the full committee”, King added.

In June 2016, the council released its Disability Policy alongside an Action Plan that focuses on five core goals. The council also has a Disability Advisor that sits on the Community Committee.

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Posted in Disability, Politics

Gaming journo Colin Moriarty’s shock resignation from Kinda Funny

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Colin Moriarty is one of the gaming industry’s leading journalist. Photo: Save As Games

Popular games journalist Colin Moriarty resigned from Kinda Funny this week; ending his tenure of work alongside his best friend Greg Miller that has left supporters in shock.

Moriarty and Miller have been side-by-side right throughout their respective careers in gaming media. After leaving IGN, the pair formed Kinda Funny and teamed up with Tim Getty’s and Nick Scarpino. What followed was a groundswell of support, and two years later Kinda Funny found themselves growing from strength to strength.

Recently, Moriarty appeared on several political shows including The Rubin Report, and it seems that whatever he does next, Moriarty will be working in that field.

Both Miller and Moriarty say that different ideas of the future direction of Kinda Funny were a factor in Moriarty’s resignation. According to all parties, Moriarty didn’t resign over his offensive tweet on International Women’s Day.

Some commentators on YouTube say that a growing tension between Moriarty and Tim Getty’s was another reason for the co-founders’ departure. Getty’s acknowledged that he and Moriarty argued at times on air, but consistently denied rumours of a rift.

The future for Kinda Funny won’t be the same without Moriarty. Plans for Miller and Moriarty’s flagship PlayStation talk show PS I LOVE YOU XOXO are up in the air, but there are talks to merge the show with a Nintendo-based show, soon to be launched by Kinda Funny.

Moriarty says he has some exciting opportunities on the horizon but is yet to make an announcement.

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Posted in Gaming
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