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Commission Not Working for Families

2 May 2006
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Commission Not Working for Families

The National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) remains unconvinced by the Families Commission acceptance of reassurances from the Ministry of Health in respect to funding being withdrawn from PlunketLine in favour of the multi-national drug company McKesson's Healthline service.

"The Families Commission response demonstrates its full comprehension of the Ministry of Health requirements but they have not consulted with the other party in this debate - Plunket", said Christine Low, National President. "The Council considers that the Commission has not practiced their acknowledged role of ensuring the families' voice is heard at all levels."

"If the Commission is only capable of seeking government information, then families will be left asking why it exists - could the Commission’s work not be undertaken by existing government agencies, such as the Child, Youth and Family department of the Ministry of Social Development?"

"The public expectation of the Commission is that they will go into bat for families. Resumption of funding at an increased level to meet the increasing demand for the PlunketLine service is what the public wants," said Low. “It is vital to recognise that families use PlunketLine for their WellChild advice, which acknowledges that families are included in the wellbeing of all children. The high percentage of calls (86%) resolved without medical intervention provides a gauge of the nature of health and parenting questions responded to by PlunketLine. To simplify this service by suggesting that "clinical" health advice will meet the needs of families is completely off the mark."

"Instead of the Commission waiting for the figures from the PlunketLine petition to provide a measure of public sentiment, NCWNZ challenges the Families Commission to use its online public consultation portal ("The Couch" http://www.thecouch.org.nz) to discover which body families would like to see offering the WellChild service."

"At this stage, the NCWNZ concern is that the Families Commission consultation service will be able to manage the volume of new subscribers they can expect to receive if the Commission accepts our challenge," concluded Low.

ENDS

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