Budget Speech

The Budget Speech is the Budget Statement the Minister of Finance delivers at the start of Parliament's Budget debate. The Budget Statement generally focuses on the overall fiscal and economic position, the Government's policy priorities and how those priorities will be funded.

Budget Speech
Published: 30 May 2019
Also published on the Treasury website.

Budget Priorities

Mr Speaker,

Turning now to the major priorities of the Wellbeing Budget.

He Ara Oranga (the report of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction) revealed that we need a whole new approach to mental health and addiction in New Zealand.

As it stands we only have mental health and addiction services for those with the highest needs. People with emerging issues, or mild to moderate mental health or addiction needs, have largely been left on their own, or have had to wait too long to get help.

Most New Zealanders will have themselves or have a friend or family member who has struggled with addiction or with their mental wellbeing. Data suggests one-in-five New Zealanders experience mental health and addiction challenges at any given time.

This comes at huge cost to individuals, families - and to the economy. It's estimated that in 2014 the economic cost of serious mental illness alone was $12 billion, or five per cent of GDP.

It is time to finally take mental health seriously.

This Wellbeing Budget makes an investment of $455 million to create new frontline services for mental health.

The Government's aim is to transform our approach so that within five years every New Zealander who needs it has access to a range of free services that support and maintain their mental wellbeing.

This new layer of services will put trained mental health workers in doctors' clinics, iwi health providers and other health services so that when people reach out for help there is a trained mental health worker immediately available.

Mr Speaker,

If there is one issue that has brought discussion about mental health and addiction to the fore in recent years it is New Zealand's tragic suicide rate. One death from suicide is one death too many and the effects of each suicide on friends and family is devastating.

This Wellbeing Budget is investing $40 million into suicide prevention services, to give at risk people intensive support. This includes better recognition and support for people who have self-harmed or experienced suicidal distress.

Demand for addiction treatment services has grown steadily over the last decade, and we need to do more to support people struggling with alcohol and drugs. That starts with early intervention. Investments in this Budget will make it easier for an estimated 5,000 people a year to get early support through primary care for alcohol and drug issues.

Budget 2019 also provides $44 million over four years to improve existing drug addiction services, with a focus on residential care, detoxification services and ongoing support for more than 2,000 people that are currently receiving assistance.

We also need to upgrade current facilities and add capacity by building new facilities. That's why we're investing $200 million into new and existing mental health and addiction facilities.

At the same time as we develop new models of mental health and addiction treatment, we also need to do more to support and expand existing services. As part of the overall funding boost for DHBs a total of $213.1 million is ring-fenced to enhance mental health and addiction services.

Budget 2019 supports the mental health of our young people by extending nurses in schools to a further 5,600 students by commencing the rollout to decile 5 secondary schools at a cost of $19.6 million over four years. We have also previously backed the integrated therapies programme, Piki, to support those aged 18 to 24.

This Budget also helps address some of the most pressing causes and effects of mental health issues that lie outside of the health sector.

Budget 2019 is investing $197 million into Housing First, meaning a total of 2,700 people will now have their lives turned around by helping them into permanent homes. This represents the largest government investment ever in addressing chronic homelessness.

The Government is also investing $128.3 million over four years in mental health and addiction services in our Corrections system. Not only is there a clear need for better treatment in our prisons, we know that by supporting offenders to overcome addiction we can save taxpayers in the long run by reducing reoffending.

Taken together, the investment in our mental health priority is worth $1.9 billion. I want every mother, father, brother, sister or friend who has seen their nearest and dearest suffer to know that we have heard the call and we are answering it - mental health is no longer on the periphery of our health system, it is front and centre in all our wellbeing.

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