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Opotiki Heartlands opening, better access to govt.

11 April 2006 Media Statement

Opotiki Heartlands opening gives people better access to government

Having a Heartlands office in Opotiki will make life easier for people living in remote parts of the country, the Minister for Social Development and Employment David Benson-Pope announced today.

The Opotiki Heartland Services Centre is the 33rd rural or remote centre to be established in New Zealand since the inception of this one-stop-shop government services concept in 2001.

“The Labour Government introduced the Heartlands concept because we recognised the difficulty people living in rural and remote areas have with accessing government services,” said David Benson-Pope. "People can talk to government officials face to face. They can make co-ordinated appointments for when they do need to visit the agency’s office.

“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."

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, health services and Work and Income.

The centre will be open each weekday. A public phone in your Heartlands centre will provide a free 0800 line to participating agencies, which people can use at anytime during the centre’s opening hours. Likewise, they can use the on-site computers to look up government and information websites during the centre’s hours of business.

Centre coordinator Jacqui Howe will be available from 10am to 2pm. Jacqui will organise appointment times and meeting rooms for when the different agencies are available. She will also distribute agencies’ application forms and pamphlets.

"We all saw how the market-led policies of the Eighties and Nineties ripped the heart out of New Zealand communities," said Mr Benson-Pope. "This Labour government has been working with New Zealanders, young and old, to revive that heart. You now have an opportunity to use your Heartlands Service Centre to strengthen your connectedness and community spirit."

ENDS

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