Mental Health Commissioner welcomes progress report on the Government's response to He Ara Oranga

The Initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission has released a report describing the Government’s initial progress towards achieving the vision set out in He Ara Oranga.

Mental Health Commissioner Kevin Allan says that the Initial Commission’s first progress report offers helpful insight into how Government can improve its response to He Ara Oranga and build on achievements to date.

‘While this report highlights that Government is making headway, it is a timely reminder of the critical components needed to shift to a whole-of-community response focussed on wellbeing and recovery.

‘Government needs to partner with Māori, tāngata whaiora and their whānau, and to engage people and communities in transformational change. The Initial Commission has found that while people want a more inclusive approach and are committed to working together to do things differently, some are still feeling left out of the process. This aligns with what I have been hearing from the sector and people with lived experience.

‘As the Initial Commission has identified, part of the problem is the lack of a long term plan. Real partnership requires a shared agenda that delivers clarity of vision, execution and accountability, as well as support to make it happen. While He Ara Oranga provided priorities for action, it did not set out a roadmap. That’s what’s needed now - what needs to happen, when, who’s going to do it and how does it all work together. The development of such a plan by the end of the year is one of the key recommendations of my 2020 Monitoring and Advocacy Report.’

Mr Allan welcomes the emphasis the Initial Commission has placed on assessing progress for Māori. ‘We know that Māori are poorly served by the status quo. As we work on a new system of care it is important to ensure that any changes are having an equitable impact. I strongly support the Initial Commission’s call to strengthen the commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi as part of the transformation process, including greater support for by Māori, for Māori approaches and targeting investment where it is most needed.’

While a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission is not expected to be in place until 2021, Mr Allan says that the Initial Commission’s work is already supporting accountability and transparency in tracking the implementation of He Ara Oranga. ‘This is an area the public have a keen interest in. Independent scrutiny of New Zealand’s efforts to lift wellbeing is essential for ensuring ongoing trust and engagement in the transformation process. I will continue to offer any assistance I can to support their work and a seamless transition to the new Commission.’