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PM opens new Heartland Services Centre on Chathams

PM opens new Heartland Services Centre on Chatham Islands

Prime Minister Helen Clark today opened a new centre aimed at improving access to government services for people in the Chatham Islands.

The Chathams Islands Heartland Services Centre is the 32nd rural or remote centre to be established in New Zealand since the inception of this one-stop-shop government services concept in 2001.

Opening the Chatham Islands Centre, Helen Clark said Heartland Services Centres addressed the difficulty people in remote areas experience when trying to access government services.

"The purpose of the Heartland Services Centres is to make it easier for people living in remote parts of the country to get information about government services - and at 800 kilometres due east of the South Island, the Chatham Islands certainly qualify as remote!

"This centre will bring numerous benefits to the Chathams community; for example, locals won't have to make toll calls to the mainland each time they need information; they won't have to wait for a simple brochure or application form to arrive by air; and making appointments with officials visiting the Chathams will be easier," Helen Clark said.

Government services offered by Heartland Services Centres can include ACC, Career Services, CYFS, the Community Probation Service, Community Law, Housing New Zealand, Inland Revenue, the Maori Land Court, the Immigration Service, and Work and Income.

The Chatham Islands Heartland Services Centre is a three-way partnership between the Ministry of Social Development, the Chatham Islands District Council, and the Chatham Islands Community Focus Trust.

Helen Clark said that the one-stop-shop model for government agencies and community organisations had been very successful elsewhere.

"We've found around New Zealand that once a Heartland Services Centre is up and running, other agencies and community organisations quickly see the benefit of becoming involved."

These centres also improve government interagency collaboration and support community and voluntary agencies in rural areas.

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