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Minister: Family support telephone pilot

23 May 2006 Media Statement

Minister: Family support telephone pilot helping one in four families

On average one in every four Bay of Plenty families has accessed a pilot telephone support line being trialled by the Ministry of Social Development.

Social Development and Employment Minister David Benson-Pope says the response of ordinary families to the 211 Family Helpline pilot is encouraging him to look at its further roll out.

He says market research conducted in July 2005 by BRC Marketing and Social Research showed the general public strongly supported the need for the 211 Family Helpline. Over 500 respondents were surveyed in Rotorua and Tauranga areas with 47 per cent feeling there was a "very big" need, while 46 per cent felt there was "some" need for this service in their area.

Mr Benson-Pope says actual Family Helpline calls over the past year have confirmed this: In the period of 20 March 2005 to 15 May 2006, the 211 Helpline answered 15,918 calls. Given that there are approximately 64,000 families in the region this is equivalent to one call from every four families.

"Labour wants every family to be safe for all its members," said Mr Benson-Pope. "We want to see every family raise healthy, confident children. We want to see every community provide the support and protection that families need. That's what this pilot Helpline is all about.

"This is exactly the type of initiative that would be the first victim of National's unaffordable tax cut policy. Extrapolating the results of the pilot out across the country suggests that we would receive between 200,000 and 250,000 calls a year. This suggests to me a real demand.

"This government makes no apology for providing families with information and helping them access services.

"Feedback from social service NGOs has also been overwhelmingly positive," said Mr Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says an extension of this small pilot in one location to national coverage would reduce the cost to around $5 per call, at the same time as enhancing the contribution of the NGOs concerned.

ENDS

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