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Porirua Social Sector Trial speech

Hon Tony Ryall

Minister of Health

5 December 2013

Porirua Social Sector Trial speech

It is my pleasure to be here today to launch the Porirua Social Sector Trial and I want to congratulate those involved on the action plan we have before us.

As most of you here will know, this plan aims to reduce the number of Porirua people needing to use the Wellington Hospital Emergency Department and also the number of people being admitted to hospital for conditions that could have been avoided.

These are important aims, because last year residents from Porirua were admitted to hospital with avoidable conditions at nearly double the rate of people from other parts of Wellington or the Kapiti Coast.

Nearly 8,300 Porirua residents went to Emergency Departments for treatment. It is great that we are addressing these numbers, but it is also important to note that this Trial is also about much more.

Social Sector Trials are about trying new things, and looking at fresh ways to deliver essential services.

They offer communities the opportunity to make a real difference for any big challenges they face.

It is about better co-ordinating health, police, education, social development and justice to eliminate the factors which cause many of these attendances and admissions.

It is about giving the local Porirua community the ability to influence the way services are delivered going forward.

This is not just related to services directly delivered by government; it is also those delivered by non-government organisations under contract to government ministries and departments.

There are more than 140 non-government organisations delivering services in Porirua.

Communities have shown over the years that when they are enabled, they can make a real difference.

This Trial is about harnessing the community’s strength to make a difference to people’s lives in Porirua.

It is also about the Government’s willingness to support that by listening to the community and allowing local leadership to guide publicly funded services.

We now have plenty of examples where this approach is working. Social Sector trials have now been underway for over two and a half years in six areas – Kawerau, Waitomo, Taumarunui, South Waikato, Horowhenua and Gore.

The targeted outcomes in these towns have been different. They have focused on young people reducing offending, reducing truancy; reducing levels of alcohol and drug use; and increasing numbers of young people in education, training, and employment.

Each one has a huge amount of momentum and community buy-in behind it, and we are seeing some tremendous results.

For example, in Waitomo the number of chronically truant students re-enrolled in education was only 18 per cent in 2011 - this year that rate is 100 per cent.

In October this year, they launched a new employment based programme to help young people pay off justice sector fines – nine young people paid off over $1100 in the first week of its operation. A few weeks in, six young people have completely paid off their fines.

There remain no youth court sittings in Waitomo since July 2012 and no 17 or 18 year olds currently on the local Probation Service’s books.

The work of the Trial in Waitomo was acknowledged when the Trial lead there was awarded Waitomo citizen of the year last year.

In Horowhenua there was a 46 per cent reduction in youth apprehensions recorded between August 2012 and August 2013.

An ‘activating youth fund’ – designed to remove financial barriers to young people’s participation in sports and other extra-curricular activities, granted over $30,000 to 287 local young people across two years.

A new youth health clinic (one stop shop model) has been funded and opens this month.

Recently, the Trial lead received an award from the MidCentral District Health Board for collaboration towards health and social outcomes – recognition from the DHB of the great collaborative work achieved through the Trial.

In South Waikato, within two months of a Youth Worker in School position being established, this person curbed five recorded incidents of potential youth suicide

A new youth hub in Tokoroa saw 5012 young people work through its doors in the first six months.

These young people access new after-school programmes, a new training programme for disengaged 16 and 17 year olds focussed on broadcasting, music and media technology and an intensive mentoring programme called CLUBS which continues to see 50 young people attend every week.

There was a three month period in late 2012 without any Youth Court appearances.

Last month, the Trial lead there was named as Local Hero at the New Zealander of the Year awards.

We’re seeing fewer crimes committed, more young people enrolled at school, and less truancy. We’re also seeing more young people achieving qualifications, and gaining the skills and experience to set them up for life.
However, the impact goes beyond young people. Whole towns have been galvanised into action, and are taking on the responsibility of improving things for their children.

As Kawerau’s Social Sector Trial Manager Kevan McConnell said earlier this year: his town has come together, and “we are moving forward as one instead of individuals and separate whanau.”

We know the model works and we are now looking at testing it in larger communities and with some different outcomes.

And so to Porirua – which already has community spirit and pride. It is a young, vibrant multi-cultural community, but it also has some real issues to deal with.

Porirua is one of 10 new social sector trials the Government is now establishing to join the original six. It is the only trial which has a total health focus.

But while reduced emergency department attendances and unnecessary hospitalisations are the outcomes, this Action Plan focuses on core goals for the Porirua community which will make Porirua a stronger, more resilient community.

As many in the social sector know, no one sector can get the desired results on its own.

Only through effective collaboration will we get real change.

So I was delighted to see this plan - which is your plan, not mine - has wide-ranging actions involving health, education, police, justice, social development and many others.

The Action Plan contains a series of very bold initiatives, which have been developed with some challenging - but achievable - goals in mind.

It has actions designed to improve self-management, resilience and wellbeing in Porirua: to give a children a “well’ start in life; to improve access to appropriate primary care in Porirua East and Titahi Bay; to align government agencies and co-ordinate their responses and communications to targeted communities; and still others to provide supportive environments by improving housing ventilation, reducing alcohol availability and alcohol related injuries.

I urge you all to look at the actions in this plan and to get in behind them. There are actions which focus on real issues that the Government has been looking to address through better public services - from domestic violence, reducing alcohol abuse and improving housing conditions.

One of the features of the Social Sector Trials is that by having direct and regular access to me and other Ministers, and to the Chief Executives of five Government Ministries, the Social Sector leads have the ability to make these actions happen.

They – and you – also have accountability for this plan, so it needs to be followed through.

Before I finish, I was struck by a couple of examples of actions already taken, which show how a big difference can be achieved by relatively simple actions being taken by people collaborating better.

One provider teaching children to use their asthma inhalers told them to keep their inhalers next to their toothbrushes. However, in some parts of Porirua, up to a third of children don’t have toothbrushes.

So the Trial arranged for the asthma service to provide toothbrushes and taught the service how to teach children to brush their teeth.

Why is that important? – because children up to the age of nine make up the largest proportion of preventable admissions to hospital and because in that age group the biggest causes of those admissions are dental and respiratory conditions.

Another example – the Trial is working with primary schools in Porirua East to identify children who are absent due to health reasons, so that primary care can support these children to be able to stay in school while living with their conditions.

I look forward to the Social Sector Trial not only achieving short-term results but fundamentally changing long-term impacts in the Porirua community through local leadership and co-ordination of social services.

Remember – the decision making is going to be up to you, and we’ll be working together to achieve the outcomes you want. So think big.

Thank you once again for welcoming me here today, for all the work you have done so far, and for all the important work we will achieve ahead.

I have great pleasure in officially launching the Porirua Social Sector Trial’s Action Plan – Tumai Hauora Ki Porirua.


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