Mental health and AOD Post-Budget announcement speech

To everyone here from Corrections, PACT, other government agencies and community organisations– thank you for joining us this morning, and for your tireless mahi in our communities.

I’d also like to acknowledge my ministerial colleagues, Health Minister Hon David Clark, Hon Chris Hipkins, MP for Rimutaka and Labour MP Ginny Andersen.

Today’s announcement is part of this Government’s commitment to tackling the long-term challenges facing New Zealand and to taking mental health seriously.

In the Wellbeing Budget, we announced a record $1.9 billion investment in mental health and addiction support for New Zealanders.

All of us here know that a significant number of people come into the Corrections system with complex addiction and mental health needs.

Ninety one per cent of people in prison have a lifetime diagnosis of a mental health or substance use disorder.

People on a community sentence are five times more likely than the general population to have used a mental health service in the year before or after their time in the justice sector.

Unless we address people’s mental health and addiction issues, we will always struggle to address re-offending.

This Government is determined to do things differently to break the cycle of crime, see fewer victims, and keep our communities safe.

That means investing in services where we know we can make the most difference.

Because we’ve seen what can be achieved when we give people better access to mental health and alcohol and drug treatment.

It makes it easier for them to gain an education, learn a trade, and take part in their rehabilitation programmes.

It makes it easier for them to build positive, healthy relationships with their whānau and wider support networks.

And it makes it easier for them to get their lives back on the right track.

That’s why I am pleased to be here to officially announce that, as part of Budget 2019, we will be investing $128.3 million over four years to expand mental health and Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) services in prisons and the community.

Once fully implemented, per year, this investment will provide the following:

  • Expanded mental health services to support up to 2,310 additional offenders with mild to moderate mental health needs.
  • A family/whānau service to support up to 275 families of offenders who need mental health services.
  • Supported living accommodation for up to 30 offenders with intensive mental health needs who are transitioning to the community.
  • Expanded social worker and trauma counselling services to help up to 800 prisoners reconnect with their whanau and children, address personal trauma, and transition back into the community.
  • Expanded AOD testing and harm reduction support interventions in the community to provide AOD tests and alcohol detection anklets to ensure people avoid drink driving.
  • AOD aftercare support services to help offenders access the relapse support prevention they need. The number of Aftercare workers will increase to ensure prisoners who have completed AOD treatment programmes are supported to maintain their treatment gains both while in prison and on their return to the community.
  • Up to four additional alcohol and other drug treatment programmes will also be established and 11 existing AOD programmes will be enhanced, enabling up to 204 participants to access treatment per year.
  • RecoverRing, an 0800 AOD counselling and support service for people and family/whānau needing lower level AOD support, will also continue to be available in both prison and the community.

We know the path to helping people break away from crime is not easy and that we will face many challenges along the way.

But if we remain focused on addressing the drivers of crime and giving people the treatment and support they need to improve their mental wellbeing and overcome addiction - then I genuinely believe we can improve not only their wellbeing but the wellbeing of all our whanau and communities.

This investment is an important step in that journey, and I want to thank you all for being a part of that.