16 Oct 2017

Insight: A Safety Net with Holes - Scout's story

11:18 am on 16 October 2017

Insight: Work and Income New Zealand is there to provide help to New Zealanders to get back on their feet, but there are clients who say it has let them down.

Returning to New Zealand from Australia was supposed to be the start of a healing time for Scout who had experienced family issues and needed time to recover from mental health problems.

Scout was put on a jobseekers allowance and asked to prepare for returning to work.

At the same time, the mental health problems were getting worse and Scout was finding it difficult to leave the house. Work and Income then made an assessment that it was now time to move back into work and sent an appointment for a seminar Scout felt there was no chance of attending, therefore putting the benefit at risk.

The pressure, on top of other issues, increased suicidal thoughts, Scout said. Despite trying to get help, Scout ended up in intensive care.

"All I needed was support ... I needed to be able to access mental health care and I needed to be able to access a benefit."

Now studying, Scout finds this an easier option than trying to recover while on a benefit.

The Ministry of Social Development said it had listened to feedback from staff, clients and unions and was working to make every interaction with Work and Income a positive one. It also said it was aiming to be a highly empathetic organisation and to make interactions easier for clients.

There will be more on the interactions between beneficiaries and Work and Income on Insight here and on RNZ National at 8.10am Sunday.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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