The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says it’s heartened by the Government’s promise to accept or consider 38 out
of the 40 recommendations from the mental health report. However, it urged the Government to make sure nursing issues
and kaupapa Māori approaches are central to the work it does in mental health and addiction.
"We appreciate that Government’s willingness to listen to the experts in the main and to consider new and evidence-based
ways of looking at this complex, persistent and tragic problem," NZNO President Grant Brookes said.
However, he said Government must ensure nursing issues such as adequate staffing levels and safe working environments -
which were almost entirely omitted by the report - feature prominently in the actions it takes in implementing the
recommendations it comes to accept.
"Nurses, whether in the community or in hospitals, are at the forefront in treating mental health and addiction, and are
probably the professionals people experiencing mental health and addiction problems interact with most.
"They’re essential to any health care we provide, but the mental health and addiction nursing workforce is becoming more
tired, fearful and burnt out. That makes it a difficult branch of nursing to recruit to. Failing to work towards a
nursing workforce that is robustly resourced, safe in the workplace and fully staffed will put the success of any of the
Government’s planned initiatives in jeopardy."
NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said she welcomes the Government’s agreement to broaden the types of services available,
and said NGO and kaupapa Māori services will play a vital role in providing culturally appropriate responses and
supporting whānau in the community.
"Removing barriers and short-term contracting costs, and streamlining funding would make these services more sustainable
and ensure that the workforce in this sector is well supported. Māori bear the mental health and addiction burden
disproportionately so developing services that are ‘by Māori for Māori’ is just common sense."
Ms Nuku said NGOs and kaupapa Māori services form a key part of the ‘whole of government’ approach to wellbeing and says
Government must support their development. She also said the focus on Māori health must continue to be strengthened
within the Ministry of Health and other Government agencies.
NZNO looks forward to continuing to work with the Government and other stakeholders to help bring about the changes
resulting from the recommendations that come to be accepted.