Wellington Scoop

Wellington father alleges parental support discrimination by WINZ

Media release from Curtis Nixon
Wellington man Curtis Nixon represented himself at the Human Rights Review Tribunal in Wellington this week, alleging discrimination by Work and Income NZ due to his sex as a male and his subsequent inability to breastfeed or supply the other physical requirements a mother gives to their child.

As the mother of his child receives Sole Parent Support (formerly known as the DPB) even though both parents care for the child on a 50/50 shared care basis, the other parent receives nothing from WINZ.

Mr Nixon claims that the retrospective clauses of Section 70B of the Social Security Act means that Ministry of Social Development has discriminated against him as a father by denying him recognition or funding for the care of his daughter. WINZ will only give support and funding to one parent if both parents receive benefits.

The parent with primary responsibility for the child gets funded and the method WINZ uses to determine which parent they support when care is shared 50/50 ultimately means that the parent who had majority care before the couple separated is the one who WINZ recognises.

“It doesn’t matter that I pay for half her school, sport and dance fees, that she has a bedroom here, that every other week I feed her and share every other decision about healthcare, schooling and so on, WINZ will not help me. That means I have to spend a large amount of time trying to find other ways to make ends meet.” says Mr Nixon.

“If they can’t decide who is the primary caregiver based on current circumstances then the retrospective clause comes into force, meaning that they look at the time immediately before the parents’ separation – in our case that is 2006 when my daughter was still breastfeeding and was being cared for at home by her mother. It is physically impossible for me to have provided that care and that is the basis of sex discrimination I allege.”

The case was heard at the Human Rights Review Tribunal this week, before Ms. M Roche, Chairperson. The decision was reserved and will be released at a later date.