Today’s budget is being firmly aimed at tackling social issues that affect families in low-income situations, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.
Mental health, child poverty, children in state care, family violence and homelessness are among those to receive a considerable investment.
“We have so often heard New Zealanders calling for early intervention and investment in challenging issues to save both money and lives in the long run. That is exactly what this Budget delivers,” says Ardern.
“I’m proud we’re getting on with the job of fixing really difficult issues like mental health, poverty and family violence because they affect so many, and everyone is better off when our collective wellbeing is improved.
“As a country, we just haven’t seen the kind of investment in mental health that reflects how serious an issue it is – all of us know someone suffering from depression or other mental illness. Today’s investment of over a billion dollars into mental health will transform the way kiwis access mental health services, but also try and prevent people needing services in the first place.
“For me, the issue of mental health is deeply personal. Almost all of us have lost friends or family members. Ensuring that New Zealanders can now just show up to their GP or health centre and get expert mental health support is a critical first step.
“This year’s Budget also represents systemic change as we work to break the cycle of poverty for kids,” she says.
Ardern said she was ‘ashamed’ at the number of families affected by violence.
“Every year about one million New Zealanders are also affected by family and sexual violence, including almost 300,000 children. Like so many New Zealanders, I’m ashamed of those numbers. Our record investment in family and domestic violence prevention and services will start to eradicate this national stain.
“When our children do better, we all do better. Breaking the cycle of violence saves us costs down the line, but more importantly it makes us a better country and it makes children’s lives richer and more fulfilling.”
It’s been announced in the budget that there will be 1,000 extra Housing First placements to attempt to address the issue of families having to sleep in damp and unsuitable homes. There will also be an end to school donations for decile 1-7 schools.