Ruapehu Press

Columns
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

From the array of evidence available, it's clear that if you carefully target investment in young people, and target it early, the benefits over a lifetime can be significant.

And the benefits will have a positive impact on the young person, their family, their community and on wider society.

That's why Budget 2016 includes a $652 million Social Investment Package to help the most vulnerable New Zealanders - by intervening and investing in public services tailored to their needs.

The package includes $200 million for new services and support for vulnerable children and young people, as part of a wider $348 million spending boost in the care and protection of our vulnerable youth.

It also provides $61 million to extend the Youth Service to include more young people to help them into training and education; and $43 million for around 150,000 students that have been identified as being the most at risk of educational failure.

There is $50 million to support people into work, including those with complex health conditions; $40 million to support around 2,500 more whanau in the Whanau Ora programme; and $20 million to re-integrate ex-prisoners into the community.

The additional $36 million for warmer, drier and healthier homes is great too.

Social investment is one of the key tools the National-led Government has to drive changes that will help improve the lives of our most vulnerable people.

We are overhauling New Zealand's child care and protection system.

A new child-centred approach will sharpen the focus on prevention, intervention, care support services, transition support and preventing youth offending and reoffending.

Budget 2016 supports this new approach while at the same time meeting the increasing demand for existing services.

This will help to keep our young people safer and healthier, and leave them better equipped to lead full lives into adulthood.

The Budget's Social Investment Package builds on the National-led Government's approach to welfare over recent years.

We are not just an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

We are taking a strong stand across many areas including health, education, housing, employment, welfare and justice.

And we're focusing on early intervention to improve lives, strengthen communities and help more New Zealanders realise their potential.