Our Week That Was series gives you a round-up of all the achievements, announcements, and other political goings-on around Parliament and across the country over the past week. We're proud of all we're doing to make New Zealand a great place to live - and we want to share it with you!
This week, our PM Jacinda Ardern returned from maternity leave to a jam-packed schedule, including major announcements for employment, mental health, and the environment! First up, we visited Downer in Porirua to announce Mana in Mahi - Strength in Work, a new initiative to support young people into real jobs while also gaining sought-after qualifications in their industry.
Our PM was joined by Minister of Employment Willie Jackson and Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni to launch the programme, which will give up to 4,000 young people on the benefit the chance to get into full-time work and learn valuable skills.
We know it can be hard to get a job, especially one that offers a career path and an opportunity to learn and grow. We also know that it can be hard for employers to hire and train young people at their own cost. That's why this scheme is truly a win-win: helping our young people get off the benefit and enjoy the dignity of work while encouraging employers to take on apprentices they might otherwise not have trained. Read more about Mana in Mahi - Strength in Work, watch the live video of the announcement, or get a quick explanation from Jacinda's Facebook Live here.
We also kept working hard in the mental health space this week. We announced a new purpose built mental health facility, designed to help those with severe intellectual disabilities and mental illness.
We're putting forward $8.4 million in funding to provide a new six-unit secure facility for individualised care for the most high-needs patients, to be built at the Ratonga-Rua-O-Porirua campus.
Early Friday morning, we got together to make a major announcement for the environment and the future of our beautiful country - we are phasing out single-use plastic bags!
It was a time of great celebration for those who have been campaigning hard for years for government action on plastic waste - including the hundreds of school children who have written to PM Jacinda Ardern on the plastic they see littering our beaches and harming our marine life.
We've heard the people of Aotearoa loud and clear, and we know the time for change is now. If we want to leave a clean, green New Zealand for future generations, then we must take action today.
We're running a consultation over five weeks to give New Zealanders a chance to share their views on how best to go about the transition, including which bags should be phased out and any retailers that should be exempted. You can read more about the plastic bags announcement here and if you want to have your say, visit www.mfe.govt.nz.
To round up the week, our Health Minister David Clark shared a fun poster competition to get kids thinking and talking about antibiotic resistance. Run jointly by the Health Quality and Safety Commission, the Ministry of Health, and ACC, the nationwide competition encourages students to create a poster highlighting either antibiotic resistance or hand washing.
The idea is to help them learn about simple hand hygiene – washing hands with soap and water, or using hand sanitiser – and why this is important to stop the spread of germs that cause infections. Students will also learn about antibiotics and how they only work against bacteria – not viruses, which cause colds and the flu. The poster competition is open now and closes on Friday 28 September 2018. See the Health Quality & Safety Commission website for the poster competition information pack.
Minister of Tourism Kelvin Davis announced we have committed funding to the proposed extension of Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail, which will connect four existing Great Rides and link 30 communities.
The 530-kilometre continuous cycle trail network across the Otago region will spread tourism spending to more local communities and create an estimated 329 full-time jobs. It's a yet another win for regional New Zealand who will benefit greatly from this increase in tourism. You can find more info here.
That's it for this week! Tune in next week to keep up-to-date on all the latest buzz around the Beehive and everything else happening around the country.