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Govt increases whānau support for Covid response

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The Government is increasing support for whānau through Whānau Ora to help with the current COVID-19 response.

Minister for Whānau Ora Peeni Henare says Delta has created new challenges for access to food and essential services and also requires more intensive responses to maintain whānau wellbeing.

“As a result it is important that additional funding is provided where it is most needed.

“Responding early to meet specific community needs will help keep whānau safe.

“The three Whānau Ora commissioning agencies will receive an immediate boost of $8.816 million to continue to provide direct and integrated support to hard-to-reach whānau presenting with complex and overlapping needs,” says Henare.

A further $14.216 million will be distributed based on need as information on the impact of the current change in alert levels unfolds.

This will support the work of Whānau Ora providers to meet the increased community need for support and services, including accessing vaccinations, testing and self-isolating spaces.

The Ministry of Social Development is also making a $2 million fund immediately available to partner with iwi responding to critical unmet needs.

Social development Minister Carmel Sepuloni says the Ministry of Social Development has been in regular contact with our Maori provider and iwi partners.

“This fund recognises the potential for emerging need particularly in areas which may not have access to other forms of support during higher alert levels,” Sepuloni says.

Funding of $1 million, from the COVID-19 Response and Resilience Fund, will also be available to support iwi community responses and assist them to update pandemic response plans to take into account the new reality of the Delta variant.                       

“This support follows talks in the past fortnight with over 100 iwi leaders, marae chairs, and urban authorities,” Minister for Māori Crown Relations Te Arawhiti Kelvin Davis says.

“The message has been clear, that they are well placed and eager to help improve the uptake of vaccinations in their communities, but that they need assistance and resources. We all want to raise vaccination rates and protect ourselves and each other,” says Kelvin.

Henare says that since the COVID-19 resurgence, Whānau Ora commissioning agencies have mobilised their provider and partner networks to redirect resources and operations to support immediate needs ranging from providing whānau with kai and hygiene packs to setting up hubs so whānau can access the support they need.

“Government will continue work to improve the interface between Whānau Ora and mainstream systems to better support whānau in the medium to longer-term,” says Henare.

“This will include a focus on driving vaccination uptake across Māori and Pacific communities and geographic locations.

“The Whānau Ora provider and partner network are well placed to support increased vaccination coverage across urban and rural areas.

“Under higher alert levels in 2020 a strong and effective community-led response to COVID-19, by Māori for Māori, demonstrated the importance of tino rangatiratanga, promoting social wellbeing by ensuring Māori retain and enhance their wellbeing.

“Māori have knowledge, capability and resources that Government needs, and are increasingly in a position to uniquely help the Crown meet its responsibilities.

“The nature of the Delta variant, and in particular its increased contagiousness, mean increased needs for some whānau.

“For example, the changed definition of ‘contacts’ to active cases means increasing the number of people who must isolate, and some need support to do so,” Henare says.

The agencies are supporting whānau to attend vaccination, testing and other health appointments, contacting whānau and kaumatua on their books to check if they need support and increasing communications across navigator and partner networks to keep whānau up to date with important health information.

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