The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) has welcomed funding for mental health and vulnerable families in the Government's 2019 'Wellbeing Budget' and looks forward to broader change to address the causes of poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand.
“We are encouraged by the 2019 Wellbeing Budget and see hopeful signs for the future if this beginning is more strongly built on in future budgets”, said NZCCSS Executive Officer Trevor McGlinchey.
“The investment in our children, in addressing New Zealand’s mental health crisis, in mitigating family violence and addictions and in supporting both Māori and Pasifika aspirations, will make a positive difference in the lives of many of those who the NZCCSS member social service organisations serve”.
According to New Zealand's Christian social service agencies, real progress toward wellbeing for the most vulnerable New Zealanders will only be made when the nation also addresses systemic drivers that lead to stress and lack of hope.
"It is these systemic drivers which create the mental health issues, family violence and addictions in peoples’ lives." said Trevor McGlinchey.
NZCCSS is disappointed that this week's budget does not provide for a significant increase of incomes for people on benefits. It also sees the budget provides little to address the huge housing need which underpins much of the lack of wellbeing experienced by poor New Zealanders.
Benefit raises and housing investment are the two significant additions NZCCSS hopes to see in future budgets.
The increase in the range of services being funded over the next four years will provide much needed support in our communities. The roll-out of new services will provide some income streams for the hardworking community and NGO social service providers who have been underfunded for many years.
While some additional cost pressure funding is being made available for existing services, the total new funding will not address such factors as the pay differential between Oranga Tamariki and NGO-employed social workers.
“Overall, this Budget is investing more heavily in families and children than any budgets in the recent past," says Trevor McGlinchey.
“While it may not be wholly transformational, particularly in addressing structural issues such as income for those on benefits or access to affordable quality housing, it does provide a hopeful start to building wellbeing”.