Emerge Aotearoa Group CE Barbara Disley has provided valuable feedback to the Health Select Committee about the Mental Health and Wellbeing Bill.
The objective of the bill is to establish a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission that will contribute to better mental health and wellbeing outcomes for New Zealanders. It will also improve equity for Māori, Pacific peoples, disabled people, rainbow communities, and other groups that experience poorer mental health and wellbeing outcomes.
This is Emerge Aotearoa’s position;
- Emerge Aotearoa Trust fully supports the Mental Health and Wellbeing Bill. Likewise, we strongly support the Commission being an Independent Crown Entity to ensure it has the independence and powers it needs to be successful.
- We fully support the Bill's strong requirement to meet Treaty obligations and responses to Māori. This will ensure that members of the Commission must collectively have knowledge, understanding and experience of te ao Māori and whānau centred approaches. Emerge Aotearoa fully supports the requirement across the Commissions’ functions to have particular regard to the experience of and outcomes for Māori and this closely aligns to our strategic pou of Māori succeeding as Māori.
- We believe that the role of the Commission could be strengthened by ensuring that addiction is more visible in the Bill. While it is assumed that the term mental health and wellbeing includes addictions this is not always the practice.
- The functions of the Commission could be further strengthened by highlighting its requirement to provide leadership and promote best practice. The Commission must be recognised as having a clear role in providing and being part of a distributed sector leadership network with a national and pivotal role at the top. Likewise, the role of the Bill could be strengthened by specifically including that the Commission has a function to assess and review all related policy.
- We believe it would be beneficial for the Commission to hold a function in reviewing, assessing and reporting on mental health and addiction services funding and expenditure, including that spend through primary health services. This will ensure that money allocated to mental health was in fact spent there.
Emerge Aotearoa supports the requirement of obtaining views from specific groups. Along with those already identified, we think they should specifically include members of the Rainbow communities, the views of people from rural communities (services and access for those who live in more isolated parts of New Zealand) and from refugee and new settler communities.
We see the establishment of a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission as a positive step in ensuring there is a watchful eye over mental health, addiction and wellbeing policies and services.
For more, visit http://legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2019/0188/latest/LMS281163.html