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Impact on community
NGOs are closer to the needs of the community, adaptable, creative, more effective and their work reduces the demand on more costly specialist health services delivered by DHBs.
We’ve reached a critical point
DHBs’ unfair funding practices are compromising NGOs’ ability to effectively meet the increasing mental health and addiction needs of New Zealanders. This is ironic given it will ultimately result in greater demand on DHB services that are more expensive and is at odds with the government policy of services ‘closer to home’.
New Zealand does not want to face a future where community support is limited. We have been there before. Crisis teams will be stretched, accident, emergency and police services will come under pressure and inpatient wards will be overflowing. These are the distressing consequences people experience when they can’t access timely community care and support.
What we do – delivering services closer to home
In 2012/13 more than 50,000 New Zealanders accessed support from NGO mental health and addiction services - and this number is growing. NGOs provide a significant range of services from early intervention, community and residential support all the way through to crisis intervention. They also provide housing, education and employment support, addiction and methadone treatment programmes.
These services play a key part in supporting people who have mental health and addiction issues to live the best life possible in their community of choice.
We know that getting the right help to someone early on and providing ongoing support in the community as and when needed is more effective in the long term than a high cost clinical and hospital centric system. This is internationally recognised by the World Health Organisation. In New Zealand around 90 per cent of people with mental health and addiction issues are supported in the community.
NGOs operate 24/7 across the country without fanfare, which is why many New Zealanders may not realise how crucial these services are in their community.
Impact of unfair funding on NGOs and the community
The current funding system is making it harder for NGOs to undertake crucial business activities that will build capability and ensure their sustainability, including:
- evaluating and improving services
- investing in better systems and technology to increase productivity
- always paying employees a fair wage
- increasing salaries in line with inflation
- attracting and recruiting suitably skilled and trained staff
- undertaking workforce training and planning
- capturing innovation.
NGO services cannot be compromised
Most importantly, if the unfair funding practices NGOs are subjected to are not addressed, people may no longer be able to access the community services they need. DHBs will be required to support them through their services and this will cost the country a great deal more.
NGOs are critical to the Government achieving its targets in Rising to the Challenge, the mental health and addiction services development plan 2012-2017. Mental health and addiction support in New Zealand is reliant on NGOs, DHBs and government agencies working in partnership. Complex social problems can’t be solved by one organisation working in isolation or by one part of the sector eroding the sustainability of their partners.
NGOs play a very important role and their services cannot be allowed to be compromised. Funding practices must change so NGOs can work collaboratively with DHBs and the Government – the future of mental health and addiction support in New Zealand relies on it.