Speech: Dunne - Opening Address to Merger Celebration
Hon Peter Dunne
Associate Minister of Health
Opening Address to the Merger Celebration of Wellink & Richmond NZ
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Thank you, Hugh, for that very warm welcome.
Good morning to Board members and staff of Wellink and Richmond New Zealand,
Greetings to Parliamentary colleagues, local authority dignitaries, DHB representatives, and also to those service users of Wellink and Richmond who are here today.
I feel very honoured as Associate Minister of Health with responsibility for mental health, and as a local Member of Parliament to be here today to mark this special occasion.
I am sure that all Members of Parliament are well aware of the sorts of issues that confront people living in the community with mental health and disability issues.
Issues such as finding suitable accommodation, employment opportunities, and access to health services are often more complex for this group of individuals and their families.
Having someone there to help navigate through the various systems to get basic entitlements can be a god-send.
This occasion is an opportunity to acknowledge both the Boards of Richmond New Zealand and Wellink, and all of your employees, for your commitment to high standards of support and service, not just here in the Wellington region, but right across New Zealand.
The values and vision of both organisations are closely aligned with a people first focus:
• Like you, I believe that people with mental health and disability issues can live full and rich lives in the community.
• Like you, I believe that we need to enhance opportunities for recovery for people with experience of mental illness.
Both organisations already work with thousands of people every year.
This includes not only clients and their families, your co-partners in recovery but also wider mental health and disability services, government agencies, employers and landlords, and the wider public, all of whom you work with.
Working with those agencies and the public helps to reduce stigma and to improve understanding about the potential, not the limitations, of people with mental health and disability issues.
Change can cause concern for people.
I understand that your service users have been advised that there is to be no change to the services currently provided or the people whom they already see.
This will certainly help alleviate any concerns that clients may have that they will receive any less of a service than that which they receive now.
This merger of like minds will help share ideas and approaches such as consumer involvement and client engagement.
I am delighted your core values of integrity, collaboration, and innovation will remain important.
That is as it should be – from both organisations.
They are the link to your past which provides the platform for your future.
This merger also makes good business sense.
For its part, the Government is committed to improving the outcomes for people in the community with mental health and disability issues.
I am sure that Associate Minister Goodhew would have more to say about the priorities for people with disabilities.
From my point of view,
transformational change in mental health services will be
achieved in years to come through:
• earlier and more effective responses
• improved equity of outcomes for different populations
• increased access
• increased system performance, and
• the effective use of resources and improved partnerships across the whole of government and the whole community.
Vital to achieving improved outcomes is a strong NGO sector.
The collaboration of community organisations with similar purposes, and improved efficiency in contracting between government agencies, is required to prevent fragmentation of too many providers chasing the same pot of funding, leaving service users confused and bruised by the experience when they desperately need champions to access services to keep them in their own communities.
So I for one welcome this merger of talents, resources, experience, and connectedness with people.
In closing, I wish you all the very best for the future, and I look forward to celebrating the success of this new organisation.