Help sought by agencies now asked to help

The organisation Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has tasked with setting up an emergency hotline for stranded Relationships Aotearoa clients has just lost a bid for a government contract to launch a new national helpline, Labour’s Acting Social Development spokesperson Annette King says.

“Lifeline, one of five agencies MSD is working with to take over clients left in limbo following the closure of Relationships Aotearoa, has been asked to set up a free phone number to help the transition process.

“The is the same organisation that, just last month, was unsuccessful in its bid to provide a ‘telehealth’ phone service to merge seven government-funded helplines into one national service, and was facing job losses.

“Another agency, Barnardos, has been negotiating with the Government to renew its funding, following moves to cut $500,000 from social services under its new community investment strategy.

“Relationships Aotearoa has obviously been in Anne Tolley’s sights for some time. We now have several other organisations, also recently under the funding gun, called in at the eleventh hour to help out.  

“This raises even more suspicions about the process.

“Anne Tolley has some serious questions to answer about why the Government has allowed Relationships Aotearoa, which has helped tens of thousands of New Zealanders in its 66 year history, fold.

“It would have been sustainable if the Government had wanted it to be.

“Instead it has been tossed aside and some extremely vulnerable clients left with a cobbled-together alternative,” Annette King says.