Indian couple at a bus stop

Alternative service for Relationships Aotearoa Clients

26 May 2015.

Ministry of Social Development Deputy Chief Executive Murray Edridge confirmed that new arrangements have been made for Relationships Aotearoa (RA) clients to access counselling services.

“I’m pleased that we have been able to secure counselling services from five agencies.

“Barnardos, Family Works, Stand Children’s Services and Lifeline have agreed to take on RA clients and may also look at taking on some staff in certain areas. With these agencies on-board, we will have national coverage with the ability to contract individual professionals in more remote areas,” says Mr Edridge.

“We are working with RA to provide its client database and contact details. As soon as we have this information, the agencies will contact clients directly to make new arrangements. All client information will be handled in an ethical manner ensuring client privacy.

“In the meantime, Lifeline has also agreed to be an emergency contact point for RA clients - any client needing information or access to urgent counselling can call the Lifeline Helpline on 0800 543 354.

“MSD along with the Ministry of Justice and Corrections have tried to work with RA as it sought to address its financial problems. Unfortunately our relationship with RA has broken down in negotiations over transitioning clients. Our focus has been and remains on ensuring RA clients can continue to receive counselling services.

“RA is obviously upset that MSD has not been prepared to provide additional funding beyond our annual contract with them for $4.7 million. We were prepared to provide additional funding for RA to work with MSD on a transition plan. Unfortunately we could not agree on funding or a time frame with RA.

“MSD believes it is in the best interests of clients to begin a transition process as soon as possible. With new national providers on board, that work will get underway today.

“I acknowledge that this is a very stressful time for RA as it looks to its future. Nevertheless MSD’s responsibility lies with supporting RA’s clients not with propping up an organisation with major financial problems.

“RA clients can be assured that contact will be made with them about the new counselling services as soon as possible. In the meantime any RA client concerned about the new arrangements can call Lifeline for assistance,” says Mr Edridge.

Indian couple at a bus stop
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