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Future of Mental Health Commission Secure

Maori Party Delighted Future of Mental Health Commission is Secure

Sunday 8 October 2006;

Tariana Turia, Health Spokesperson for the Maori Party

Co-leader of the Maori Party, Tariana Turia, has supported the announcement that the life of the Mental Health Commission has been given another reprieve.

Her statement follows today's release by Health Minister, Pete Hodgson, that legislation will be introduced to extend the term of the Mental Health Commission to 2015.

“The Mental Health Commission has played a key role in the implementation of Te Tahuhu, the mental health strategy, reminding us of the urgent need to reduce discrimination against people with mental illness and doing what they can to address mental health workforce issues” said Mrs Turia.

“They have an unique ability to stand outside, and give us the objective report card we need on mental health and well-being” said Mrs Turia.

“They have been instrumental in bringing out issues such as the crisis state of our acute services, and the largely negative experiences of adolescents in such services (described by the Commission as “profoundly not recovery-orientated”)”.

“There are huge issues in the status of our mental health in Aotearoa” said Mrs Turia. “There are particular shortages of skilled Maori and Pasifika mental health workers, and in the child and adolescent mental health area”.

“The Commission has told the Government, loudly and clearly, that child and youth service remain significantly under-funded in relation to known need”. (The Blueprint suggests 26% of mental health funding should be allocated to services for children and young people. Current funding is 11%).

“The Commission has also highlighted the ongoing workforce pressures in response to the continuing policy of de-institutionalisation, particularly in primary and community care” said Mrs Turia.

“No-one can stand aside from the appalling levels of unmet need announced in the Government’s own survey released last month” said Mrs Turia. “Te Rau Hinengaro revealed that despite a higher prevalence of disorder, Pasifika groups and Maori are less likely to access mental health services than other population groups. It also stated that there are “Barriers to access for Maori and Pacific people that are not explained by youthfulness or socio-economic disadvantage”.

“I would hope that this announcement of the ongoing life of the Commission, may give rise to more emphasis being placed on explaining such barriers - addressing the impact of institutional racism, of discrimination, and any other factors that impact on such disparities” said Mrs Turia.

“The Maori Party looks forward to the ongoing advice of the Commissioner and its Commissioners Ruth Harrison (Chair), Mary O’Hagan and Kaumatua, Dennis Simpson” said Mrs Turia. "And we particularly welcome today's announcement of the appointment of Kai Tahu/Te Atiawa Chief Executive, Ray Watson, to the Commission. I am sure that Ray will be a key player in ensuring the Commission remains focused on the attainment of whanau ora for all our whanau, hapu and iwi".

ENDS

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