9 Jun 2015

Trauma expected after counselling service closure

8:17 am on 9 June 2015

Relationships Aotearoa is concerned many clients will face further trauma after it closes today.


Photo: 123rf

The country's oldest counselling service has been forced to close after funding negotiations with the Government broke down.

Two weeks ago the Ministry of Social Development announced it had secured five agencies to take over its work, however, yesterday it confirmed two of the five agencies tipped to take over the work are no longer actively involved.

Māori Services and Development for Relationships Aotearoa principal strategic advisor Rihi Te Nana said its 2500 Maori clients will be hurt by the hurried move.

"I am concerned and saddened for our people at such a hasty transition that is probably going to cause them more harm [and] retraumatise them," she said.

"If you look at our history as people, trauma is a big factor of our whakapapa, in our lives, so all the issues that historic trauma has brough to us we may well see that happen again."

Rihi Te Nana said the transition will be difficult, as many of the clients will have built up a rapport with whoever their counsellor was.

"There will be some kind of response to these radical changes, especially for Maori clients: too fast-moving from one space to a totally new environment; not being sure whether they'll have their counsellor because they're not privy to the kind of employment choices that the counsellors will make and whether they go to Stand [a service provider]."

Prime Minister John Key said looking at the situation, it was obviously been a difficult time.

"But on the other side of the coin the advice that we've had is that quite a lot of the staff will be picked up by other providers, that there are other providers and that the clients will get the service that they require.

"And in the end, as I said, it's difficult, but the Government has a responsibility not only to the clients, but actually to the taxpayers and the responsibility to the taxpayers is to make sure they're getting value for money."