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Graemea & CYF New Zealand

Graeme Axford documents his on going dispute with Child Youth & Family, (CYF) New Zealand

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Personal Statement

I am overwhelmed that I should be the cause of such an engaging display of polished agitation.

E.B. Smith "The Wallet of Kung Lee"

I have written this personal statement from a chronologicaly, explaining the most significant events that I believe influenced the perspective that I personally and professionally hold today.

While at Greymouth High School I was asked to leave around exam time however I was not suspended, or expelled I was also told not to worry that my report and leaving card would be signed off as per usual to save me the stress as it was paper work which I was not good at anyway.

Other underachievers were in this predicament but happy to be out of school so they told me later.

I believed this was done to make the school statistics look better by making sure those who were likely to fail exams did not participate or be record as attending the school therefore not get counted in the overall attendance.

When questioning this, it was explained by the principal as he was on Council and therefore highly respected person that I should just go without making a noise. That school for me was a waist of resources as I was not learning anything and frustrating everyone trying.

The only career I was heading for would be criminal that if I wanted a fight to bring it on but be prepared for the consequences. I involved a lawyer and was quickly reinstated also alerting the ministry of education who said they would look into things.

Some years later as a result the principal was investigated and eventually convicted on a number of irregularities involving the school. Des hunch had to resign from the school and counsel before being pushed as he had a criminal record now.

I learnt I could get better or bitter and the only failure is not to try remembering I was only about 15 years old at the time and that battle was not of my choosing.

After this I ended up on the dole so the government agency which was called in those days NZ Employment Services put me on the Job Pulse scheme a for a multi million-dollar conglomerate. They hired me for retailing knowing at that time I could not read, or add and had unspecified learning disorder! Once the subsidy run out they fired me in which they tried to get someone else on the same scheme. I was forced to sign my final notice I could not read at that time being told if I refused they would say I deliberately got fired and I would get 26 weeks with know income by being disqualified for a benefit on these grounds.

Afterwards what was then called the department of Social welfare now known as Work and Income advised me unless I had a lawyer involved or the union the stand down was automatic. So I did and was quickly reinstated where I continued to work for another 6 years until I was made redundant by mutual consent.

In my view what happened to me was blatant exploitation so I fought to have the system changed to make sure it could not be abused in this way again. Some employers used the Job Pulse scheme to save money on wages but I helped change that.

Afterwards I helped form the West Coast Unemployed and Workers Rights Center in 1998, which is still continuing to this day and renamed in 2007 to the People Support Center in Greymouth. I have used my abilities and drive to help others.

Advocacy seemed to be my destiny something that comes to me rather then me seek it as the chain of life events unfolded.

Being back on the dole Work and Income suggested I get a heavy trade license and that would make me more employable. Every month I got a few different licenses until I ended up with everything and still no fulltime job. It was suggested I attend a yearlong literacy course, which I did and was tested and found to have phonological and Graphical dyslexia. I wish we had of gotten to the root of these problems earlier in my life what a difference that would have made.

I hope this explains the conundrum of events I faced at such a young age this is how it influenced my life.

I have grown in my understanding of ecology[COMMENTS] and how the best well-intentioned government policies can unwittingly affect people for worst who they are trying to help. I have dealt with ACC, WINZ, and IRD cases in regards to misunderstanding around criteria and anomalies in the system that can defy belief, coupled with a lack of discretionary powers to fix things. We have had to battle the medical profession and case managers over misrepresentation of conditions and circumstances.

I have been to review of decisions, select committees hearings, and the ombudsmen office on client's behalf and sometimes with the support of the administrative bodies caught in the enigma.

I realize that I am but one decision, heartbeat, accident, or illness away from crossing over from helper to becoming the client, which is why I treat people as if it was myself in their shoes. I believe in empowering the marginalized helping the oppressed in whatever way is ethically right and possible within my skill range.

I still see too much physical, emotional economic, isolation abuse being employed to use duress over people's lives. I feel we need more forbearance about race religion and sexual orientations things people hold dear too themselves.

Some people I have helped get a driver's license others food parcels, advice or networking, these practical things can make a big difference in people's lives. I have had to help challenge the system for those who it makes venerable and fails to deliver on its intent. I love a challenge and work hard to seek an amicable resolution when realistically possible.

I never promise clients we can win but what I do is say if there is a way through something we will take it if that's what they want until we have exhausted all possible avenues. I have had clients expect miracles and go very sourer because we cannot support their unreasonable or sometimes fraudulent cases. Some of these clients have become abusive, aggressive and blame shifting for their own circumstances rather then taking responsibility.

I have spent a lot of voluntary time at the West Coast Unemployed and workers Right Center. I leant the value of good mentors who influenced my life and helped keep me on track with encouragement even when the odds seemed to be overwhelming against me. That is why I helped out with Youth groups and mentoring programs with at risk youth because I always think, "there but for the grace of God go I" when I was their age

My goal is to help improve people's quality of life so the leave better off then went they come into my services. To improve their wellbeing I want to become more generic social worker spending less time battling the bureaucracy and working more with people on a more personal level. My aspirations are to become a registered social worker and continue upskilling as I enjoy working with a diverse range of people and circumstances and cultures.

Power will intoxicate the best hearts, as wine the strongest heads. No man is wise enough, nor good enough, to be trusted with unlimited power.

Colton

I hope this personal statement tells you not only who I really am but also what I am about and gives you some insight to my personal ethos and being to see if I fit within the parameters of what and who you are looking for to employ. Either way I wish you the best and hope one day we will meet and work together even if in different organization but for the cause for the common good.

It seems rather ironic I have gone full circle with the Child Youth and Family saga and gone from being forced onto a job subsidy to wanting to go on one now. MY disability has always made it harder for me to get employment and 22 years later that has not changed. The only difference is this time it's a government department being the problem.


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