7 May 2010

Whanau Ora bill likely to top $500m

8:26 am on 7 May 2010

The bill for Whanau Ora is likely to top half a billion dollars over the next four years, once the cost of contracts to deliver social services to at-risk families is factored in.

The Government has announced it will spend $134 million over the next four years on Whanau Ora, to be used for administration, training, monitoring and research, and what's called whanau capability and capacity building.

Money for frontline Whanau Ora services will come from exisiting contracts with 20 initial providers, who will transfer an estimated $100 million a year worth of current funding to the new programme.

The Labour Party says it's still not clear how Whanau Ora will work, and says much of the funding announced for the programme appears to be destined to help establish the policy, rather than deliver services to families.

Whanau Ora minister Tariana Turia expects more providers to join Whanau Ora in the future, and over time, it's likely $1 billion will be spent on the services.

Mrs Turia says there are 270 Maori providers of health services at present. "Probably, when you count up all the money they receive, it would be close to $1 billion."

Kokiri Marae in Lower Hutt, which offers education, health and social services, is among those expressing interest in receiving Whanau Ora funding.

Health and social services general manager, Teresa Olsen, says the marae has a small contract for $6000 to work with 10 women who have anger management problems.

"The thought of being able to work with them in a comprehensive way and being properly resourced to do that is really exciting."