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Budget 2006: Safer families and communities

Joint Release
Social Development; Child, Youth and Family; Justice; Education; Police

Safer families and communities a top priority

The Labour-led government wants all New Zealanders to grow up in safe and secure families and communities. That is why Budget 2006 commits an extra $68.8 million over the next four years to programmes to help reduce violence.

The plan spans initiatives across various ministerial portfolios including Social Development, Child, Youth and Family, Justice, Education, and Police.

Initiatives target truancy, disruptive behaviour in schools and at risk youth. Funding has been increased to community organisations working with victims, along with family violence prevention agencies like Women's Refuge.

In total Budget 2006 provides $64.3 million of new operating funding over the next four years and $4.5 million of new capital funding over the next two years.

"We want strong families, free from violence, living in strong communities. We believe family violence is a critical problem to address because its high incidence and human cost are unacceptable," Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope said today.

"This package builds on the significant investment Labour has already made in families through Working For Families, improving access to affordable primary healthcare, and our schools."

Projects and funding announced today:
- $11.5m over four years for a community prevention campaign to reinforce the unacceptability of family violence and change attitudes towards violence and abusive behaviour.
- $17.5m over four years to expand the Youth Transition Service. It gives communities resources to help at risk school leavers and $10m (over four years) is earmarked for additional service delivery in South Auckland (Mangere, Otahuhu and Otara) responding to youth gang issues there.
- $6m of operating funding over four years plus $4.5m capital investment over two years for a system which electronically collects student enrolment information. Alerts will go out for students absent from school for more than 20 days so services can begin tracing them.
- $643,000 over four years for Project Early – an early intervention programme designed to help at risk 3-8 year old children in Christchurch and Auckland to overcome their behavioral problems.

"Since 2002 we have been working to help families to be free from violence through a range of programmes under the umbrella of Te Rito – New Zealand’s Family Violence Prevention Strategy," David Benson-Pope said.

"Te Rito is a collaborative approach between government and non-government organisations and it sets out key principles, goals and actions for families/whanau living free from violence.

"Parents and caregivers need the jobs and the skills, which enable them to support their children. And vulnerable families need help at the earliest possible point.

"There has been an increasing awareness within our communities of the number of families who are devastated by family violence. If we are to turn around the appalling statistics our country has for domestic and family violence then as a community our attitudes must change further," David Benson-Pope said.

Already signaled through pre-Budget announcements:
- $8.9m over four years to tackle disruptive behaviour in schools, including developing a strategy to reduce bullying. Three proposed strands are guidelines to help schools set and reinforce consistent and appropriate behaviour; a behaviour-screening tool to better identify high risk children; and additional emergency funding to help schools manage the immediate impacts of disruptive behaviour.
- $9m over four years to increase funding for family violence prevention agencies. It includes increased funding for: 24-hour crisis lines, counselling, social work support, safe-house accommodation, advocacy and information.
- $10.8m over four years to complete the restructure of Victim Support and maintain service delivery to victims.

These projects will be complemented by an additional 1000 frontline police.

ENDS

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