Whanau Ora is welcomed

By Parentline, 21 June 2011

CEO Cathy Holland’s Column in the Hamilton Press 5th May 2010

From the outset, Parentline’s focus has been on working with individual children who have been abused or witnessed domestic violence. However, it always bothered us that after having affected changes in behaviour and securing their place in the world, children were then returned to the same family circumstance that created the imbalance.

Over time and with more experience, we transitioned to include parents and caregivers in the therapeutic process, so that now we offer parenting programmes and individual counselling for adults, alongside services for their children.

In the last twelve months, we have come full circle, by opting to work with the entire family – the child, his / her siblings, parents, caregivers as well as other extended family members. Which is why we are so interested in the roll out of the Whanau Ora programme, recently announced by the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Bill English:

Whanau Ora is one of a number of Government initiatives to help families become more self managing and take responsibility for their own development. It is clear from results in recent years that traditional approaches to helping families in need have not worked that well.

We agree that whanau centred services are those that focus on the family as a whole, of building on whanau strengths and increasing whanau capacity. We see Whanau Ora as a model that is driven by the aspirations, needs and realities of the whanau as a whole; it is not about provider capture. We doubly welcome the challenge that Whanau Ora is about doing things differently; of getting the best possible return on tax payer’s money and we endorse United Future leader, Hon. Peter Dunne support of the Government’s willingness to try new and innovative approaches.

Over the next months, Parentline will be preparing for the onset of Whanau Ora. We have already started aligning ourselves with a like collective of agencies able to meet the specific needs of the families we see. For our part, we will continue to do what we do best – of working with children who have been abused or witnessed domestic violence. We are also well positioned to deliver parenting programmes for Mums and Dads and even Grandparents; but the new environment will likely see us working alongside an agency who is supporting Mum and her new baby; an employment agency working with Dad and an education institution encouraging siblings to achieve academically.

The changing face of the delivery of social services is exciting, challenging and long overdue.