Inquiry into mental health to Minister
A 10-month Government inquiry into mental health and addiction was last week handed to the Minister of Health.
He Ara Oranga panel was led by chair Professor Ron Paterson with Sir Mason Durie, Dr Barbara Disley, Dean Rangihuna, Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath and Josiah Tualamali’i.
The consultation, launched in Palmerston North in April, led to over 5200 submissions. The panel travelled around New Zealand meeting with and listening to people at 26 public forums from Kaitaia to Invercargill and at hundreds of meetings.
They heard from people with experience, wha¯ nau, service providers, community groups and all the population groups that included tangata whenua and people from the Pacific.
Professor Paterson said the people they heard from gave the panel a clear sense of what’s working and what’s not working in mental health and addiction in Aotearoa and how to improve wellbeing in r communities.
Hesaid it was an honour and privilege to undertake this inquiry.
“We recognise it as a once in a generation opportunity, and are grateful to all the people who shared their experiences and wisdom with us, in meetings and submissions.”
Professor Paterson said the panel was confident their report reflected the voices they heard, which set a clear direction for the future pathways to wellness that government, the sector and communities can pick up and implement.
The panel also talked with prison inmates, which they said was “hugely important” for the Inquiry. The panel visited Auckland Prison, Auckland Women’s Regional Correctional Facility (mothers and babies unit), Arohata Women’s Prison, Rimutaka Prison and Christchurch Men’s Prison Youth unit which provided a unique perspective on the challenges for youth and their wellbeing.
At each of the prisons panel members talked with staff and inmates, including talking with participants in programmes like the alcohol and drug treatment programmes. The Inquiry also received submissions from inmates and provided a freephone number for them to submit and they could also post in submissions.
He Ara Oranga is now in the hands of the Government, which will release it publicly after a period of deliberation. It will be made available on the website www.mentalhealth.inquiry.govt.nz/ in various formats.