Minister trumpets health initiative
Millions of dollars have been thrown at Porirua’s health problems for decades, but things have only got worse, Health Minister Tony Ryall said last week.
Mr Ryall was at Pataka to launch a new Porirua Action Plan on health, aimed at reducing hospital admissions of Porirua residents within two years.
Organisations as varied as the council, police, iwi, Housing New Zealand, the district health board, and a slew of government ministries will form an advisory group with that goal in mind.
They will act as a direct line of communication between agencies on the ground and the Government.
‘‘ It is an incredible opportunity for Porirua,’’ Mr Ryall told a crowd of 100 at the launch last Thursday. ‘‘Thank you for being here at the beginning of the most exciting journey that many of you will have.’’
Agencies should speak up if they wanted a police officer assigned to a certain area, or if they thought Ministry of Social Development resources should be redirected, Mr Ryall said.
‘‘Be brave, be courageous, and actually be a nuisance.
‘‘The Government will back you to make the decisions to change things.’’
Porirua is the latest city to join the Government’s ‘‘ social sector trials’’, which started in 2009 as a way to reduce youth crime in six needy towns around the country.
The idea was to avoid a situation where five cars from five social agencies would be parked in one family’s driveway, Mr Ryall said.
In Kawerau, one man was given responsibility for distributing all government funds for various social agencies.
He discovered 62 children, completely unknown to any agency, who were not registered at any school or doctor’s office, Mr Ryall said.
Those children were put into school or training and youth crime plummeted 60 per cent, he said.
Similarly, in Te Kuiti a fifth of children were chronically truant from school before its social sector trial began – that number was now zero. A kuia patrolling the streets gave truants an earful, Mr Ryall said.
Again, Te Kuiti’s youth crime plunged.
‘‘ Since July last year, the youth court hasn’t had to sit. There are no 17 or 18-year-olds on probation’s books,’’ Mr Ryall said.
‘‘This approach works and it produces results.’’
Ranei Wineera- Parai, from Compass Health, will project manage Porirua’s trial.
She said hospital admissions could be reduced with simple ideas like promoting teethbrushing – dental problems caused the majority of hospital admissions for Porirua under10s.