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Week That Was: Taking mental health seriously

Our new Week That Was series will give you a round-up of all the achievements, announcements, and other political goings-ons 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!

Welcome back to another instalment of our Week That Was series! This week saw a couple of important mental health announcements, an update on how we’re tracking on our winter response for New Zealand’s homeless (over 1,000 extra housing places!), a Bill championing support for domestic abuse victims, an education hui for two Māori education initiatives, and an update to plans for Auckland’s CityRail Link.


First up, at the start of the week we announced a pilot programme for 18 to 25 year olds. We’re keen to make a real difference for our young people who aren’t currently accessing mental health services – because they can’t afford them, the services aren’t appropriate, or because their needs aren’t recognised as severe enough. The transition out of school and into adulthood can be tough, and three quarters of all cases of lifetime mental illness start by age 25. That’s why it’s so important that we get support for our young people early. We’re working on getting more information about what works for Kiwis, particularly young Māori, young people with disabilities, young Pacific people and young rainbow Kiwis.

Minister of Health David Clark announced a pilot programme to provide free counselling for 18 to 25 year olds.

Continuing in the mental health space, our Minister of Health Hon Dr David Clark announced that five thousand mental health and addiction support workers will get a pay rise next month to give them the same pay rates as care and support workers. We’re committed to making sure everyone is paid fairly for the work they do. We’re back-dating the increase to 1 July 2017. We take mental health seriously, and we want to support those who work in this area – so we can create and maintain a strong, robust workforce in mental health and addiction services, and make sure Kiwis can get the care and support they need, when they need it.


We’re also reflecting on this week’s announcement that we have delivered over 1,000 extra housing places to help Kiwis in need over this winter. This means we’re well on our way to delivering our 1,500 target, and that over 1,000 Kiwis and Kiwi families will have a warm, dry, safe place to live over the colder months. You can read more about the Winter Response 2018 here on our blog, or keep up with the latest information, including what you can do to help, over at the Ministry of Social Development.


In other news, we were super proud to join with our partners in government to support Jan Logie’s MP’s bill to help victims of domestic abuse. The Bill is a major step in making sure all Kiwis can live violence-free lives. It was disappointing that National chose to vote against it, but this certainly won't slow our progress or stop us providing the necessary support for everyone affected by domestic violence. The Bill, which grants victims of domestic violence ten days paid leave to allow them to leave their partners, find new homes, and protect themselves and their children, has been celebrated as a huge win for victims and for the country as a whole. It also comes alongside our other efforts to address New Zealand’s domestic violence, such as our allocated $80 million in funding for family violence groups in this year’s Budget.


Our Deputy Labour Leader and Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis has been busy this week, hosting an impressive group of 12 Māori experts in Wellington today to help realise the potential for two education initiatives: Te Ahu o te reo Māori and Te Kawa Matakura. Te Ahu o te reo Māori will support teachers to teach te reo in the classroom, as part of our plan to better integrate te reo into our schools. This programme will support a growing number of teachers who are competent in te reo and looking to build their confidence to use it everyday in the classroom. Te Kawa Matakura is a pilot for a traditional wānanga Māori, with the aim of helping our young people become familiar with mātauranga Māori in mind, body, and wairua. This think tank was a one-off, designed to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge we have available at our doorstep from Māori experts and leaders. The level of expertise and knowledge available at the workshop was incredibly impressive, and is sure to serve as a foundation for further work in this space.


Lastly, we saw updated plans for Auckland’s CityRail Link, expanding original plans to allow for more capacity. It’s a response to an increased use of rail in Auckland, which has been rising much more quickly than expected. Doing the work now means that we won’t have to close the tunnels to expand them later – “future-proofing” by building a system that works now and for many years to come.


That’s it for this week – tune in next week for more updates and newsflashes on the buzz around the Beehive and across the country!