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Maharey Speech: Investing in families

Address at the launch of Hastings Family Start. Mangaroa Marae, Bridge Pa.

Tena Koutou, Tena Koutou, Tena Koutou.

Thank you for the welcome.

I'm very pleased to be here with you today to launch Hastings Family Start.

I would like to acknowledge the staff and management of Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated here today including the chair of the board Ngahiwi Tomoana; and to Alayna Watene and everyone from Te Taiwhenua O Heretaunga. My greetings also to representatives from the District Council; the Family Start workers; and to you all for coming to support this programme.

This is the third Family Start programme I have launched in the last few weeks – a couple of weeks ago I was in Hamilton and before that Whakatane.

On each occasion the spirit of the service providers and their supporters to make the programme work for their community has impressed me greatly.

Family Start in Hastings is certainly in good hands.

In Te Taiwhenua O Heretaunga we find a partner with a proven track record in supporting families within your community.

 Your family support services;
 your work in primary health care; educational and promotion; mental health; School nursing, school dental health; and
 your Youth and Training Opportunities programmes,

all stand you in good stead to deliver a holistic programme like Family Start.

The communities I have talked to clearly see Family Start as an opportunity to make a difference.

Because, when you boil it right down, Family Start is simply a way of supporting communities to support families in need. It really is that simple.

We all know that family needs do not fit into neat little education, health or welfare boxes but cross the spectrum. Family Start is a programme that recognises this and allows you the freedom to be creative and find solutions to the real world difficulties families face.

That is why the programme is not simply funded by one government agency but by three. In providing this programme in your community you are building links with the education, health and welfare sectors and building bridges between them.

Theorists refer to this sort of cross sector approach as 'joined up government'; I, and the community providers I meet, refer to it as good common sense.

Why work across sectors? Why collaborate? The answer too is a matter of good common sense.

If families needs and issues do not fit into neat little boxes, the solutions to the difficulties the face are also unlikely to.

There is little point in trying to persuade a mother to do a parenting course when the most pressing issue facing her is that the roof leaks and the power has been cut off.

Family Start provides an opportunity for you to address pressing concerns first and then to work with the family to build a healthier, brighter future.

And we cannot expect you to do this alone. Your partnerships with others in your community will be vital.

We want the families you assist to have access to:
 Medical care;
 Immunisation;
 Early childhood education;
 Education and training for parents; and
 Support and nurture from peers and the community.

This will require Family Start in Hastings to build strong bonds with other providers in your community and with the community itself. That is why it is so gratifying to see you all here today.

Delivering Family Start in Hastings also gives you an opportunity to build a new relationship with the Department of Child, Youth and Family.

Since the Labour / Alliance Government came to power Child, Youth and Family have already signed a partnering charter with a major social services provider. We intend to conclude more of these agreements.

I want to stress the very real difference between the type of partnering charters we have directed the Department to negotiate with the contracts entered into under the direction of the previous government.

Partnering is not simply a contract-for-service approach.

Partnering moves away from the narrow, risk-based focus of earlier contract models. It seeks to build trust-based long term working relationships based on mutual respect and shared goals.

We see real potential in properly resourcing community-based social service providers – like yourselves – to build your own communities.

You have your ear to the ground much more than my officials in Wellington can ever have.

You are more likely to be familiar with the particular needs of the people who live in your community.

By resourcing and supporting your work the Government can assist you to build the ability of your own communities to grow stronger.

While the previous government contracted for social service delivery as if it was buying peas or fighter planes, the key difference that this Government intends introducing is active partnership.

We don't just want to negotiate a price, buy a product from you and audit the results at the end of each financial year.

We want to build your capacity to develop your own local solutions to the challenges you face.

We intend to work with communities to develop local solutions, giving you the freedom to initiate programme design, as well as supporting you to deliver initiatives.

Building communities must be at the heart of any modern social welfare policy. Our policies are driven by the concept of “participation”.

We want to provide New Zealanders with new opportunities to participate both in employment and in the life of their community.

And the way forward is through partnership between Government and community.

I will watch your progress in Hastings with interest because if we are to close the gaps between the haves and have-nots in our society we must look to organisations such as yours and to programmes such as this to make a difference.

So it is with pleasure that I launch Family Start Hastings today. I wish you every success in the months and years ahead.


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