Inaugural NZ Aotearoa Family Therapy Network Conference

Speech – New Zealand Government

(delivered by Dr Frances E Steinberg, Conference Convenor, on behalf of Minister Turia) Speech Tēnā rā koutou katoa Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health

Novotel Auckland Airport

13 March 2012

(delivered by Dr Frances E Steinberg, Conference Convenor, on behalf of Minister Turia) Speech

Tēnā rā koutou katoa

Firstly I would like to thank you for inviting me to this conference, and I would like to give my humble apologies for not being able to be with you today for this wonderful occasion.

I want to acknowledge that this is an auspicious occasion for placing whānau at the centre of all that you do. This network conference is the inaugural conference of the NZ Aotearoa Family Therapy Network, and so that in itself is worthy of celebration. But what is particularly exciting to me is the use of the concept, many hands, many voices which is the theme you have chosen as your signature for this event.

For what is encapsulated in the concept is the rich and diverse expression of families that we are celebrating today. Hands are made for many purposes – to reach out and invite someone in; to grasp in a firm handshake, to love and to hold; to convey a world of meaning through sign; to dig, to type, to express ourselves. Voices too, come in every colour and hue; they can scream out for help; they can comfort a crying baby; they sing; they laugh; they draw us in.

And this is what I hope will unfold for this network conference – that the range of issues and experiences encompassed within all our families are recognised as bringing with them, their own unique strengths and character. To me, that is Whānau Ora.

I have taken a brief look through the programme and I want to pay tribute to you for seeking to be strengths based; for valuing cultural competency; and for making the issues of every day families real. I see emphasis on natural supports; on love, hope and respect; on how to engage and be effective – in other words how to work with families in the way that will be of most benefit to them.

I am pleased, that while I cannot be present with you today, that I still have an opportunity to address such a diverse group of health and social service professionals who all have a single uniting interest – whānau.

To gather together, connect and wānanga, is not only an important part of growing our collective body of knowledge and broadening our perspectives on the world; it is also a means of working towards providing a better service for those whānau who we work with, and supporting them to move closer towards their aspirations and collective wellbeing.

I have been asked here today to talk to you about Whānau Ora. Yet I am convinced that most of you will already have an inherent understanding of the basic premise of Whānau Ora, that if we start the process of transformation through the basis of whānau, then our future will be anchored on solid foundations.

Whānau Ora is simply about recognising that as whānau, we have collective resources that we can pool to create the transformation that we need to see.

It is also about those who work with whānau recognising the wide breadth of issues, social, environmental and cultural, that impact on the wellbeing of the individual and a whānau, and therefore working to address all those issues in order to achieve outcomes that are meaningful and lasting.

When I started the process of implementing Whānau Ora, one of the key issues that needed to be addressed was about our processes, policies and the service that we provide. How could we ask whānau to work collectively, when Government ourselves were not geared to work with those who chose to work together as collectives?

So, we set about a two pronged process. The first approach was to ensure that we supported whānau to rebuild their connections to their collective aspirations, values, and responsibilities. We wanted whānau to remember that they have reciprocal responsibilities, and rights, and to remember the legacy their tupuna left them, and to build on that legacy for the next generation.

To this end, we established the ‘Whānau Integration, Innovation and Engagement fund’, or as it is often known, the WIIE fund. A clever acronym that also represents the momentum of Whānau Ora – its more about the ‘we’ than it is the ‘I’. In te ao Māori we have a proverb ‘ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, ēngari he toa taki mano’ (my achievement, was not mine alone, it belongs to many), it is this same concept that is reflected in whānau ora.

The WIIE fund is designed to support whānau planning, and the implementation of those plans. To date, over 2,000 whānau plans, representing more than 15,000 family members have actively participated in this process. That means that there are 2,000 whānau who have come together to dream together, and to plan together about how they will work together to achieve a better future for their children, and their children, and children after that.

That is just fantastic.

Our second approach was to ensure that these whānau had allies on their journey. That they had providers who were ready to support them, ready to empower them, and ready to work collaboratively towards achieving the ultimate goal of whānau transformation and success.

This obviously presented some barriers. There is no such thing as an expert in all things. We know this, and we acknowledge that there are specialist services for many issues. So we put our effort into ensuring that we established successful working collaborations between providers. This allowed us to both establish a system geared towards working with wider whānau, and a breadth of issues, while also allowing our specialists to continue to work in their areas of expertise.

We have 25 of these provider collectives established across the country, representing 160 provider organisations. All of these organisations are already engaged in service delivery, each of them have specialist areas, yet they work together as collectives which bring together many different aspects of social, health and wellbeing services. For example, we have health providers paired with social providers, training providers, and providers, employers, housing providers and more. The demand has been so high in fact, that in last year’s budget we were able to announce another eight provider collectives.

I am sure that you can see the benefit that this will provide to whānau once these collectives are fully working together in a seamless and holistic way.

In order to support whānau to navigate the many services that are available and waiting to support them, we have also established ‘Whānau Ora navigators’ that assist them on their journey, working with whānau to provide options for how they wish to move forward towards achieving their aspirations. Currently we have 1,000 whānau actively engaged with our navigators.

It is through this two pronged approach that I hope we can make some real changes for all whānau in New Zealand. I just want to say here, that whānau literally means family. It is a Māori word, but is not limited to Māori families. Whānau can and does apply across cultures; and so can whānau ora.

There are some fundamental assumptions within the Whānau Ora approach that I must also mention. The first is that culture counts. No matter what culture you belong to, you should be able to work towards your goals in a culturally respectful and appropriate way. This also means that providers of services should be able to support a range of whānau in ways that are appropriate to them.

The second, is that what wellbeing and achievement looks like, and feels like will differ from whānau to whānau. This means it is often difficult to describe the outcomes that Whānau Ora is seeking. However, that is one of the most wonderful things about it. There is no ‘one size fits all’ for whānau, and what we have in Whānau Ora is an approach that is able to account for that diversity, and the different pathways that we may follow to achieve wellbeing.

Finally, it is absolutely critical that we acknowledge the interconnectedness of health, housing, justice, education, social service, and employment. To move out of the current silos of services and into inter-sectoral collaborations will be a vital component of the success of Whānau Ora from now and into the future.

So I am sure that you can see, that while Whānau Ora is simple, it is also very complex. It is a completely different approach to social and health services in Aotearoa, one that is based on the core units of support we have around us, our whānau.

So while there is a place for services and providers within whānau ora, ultimately if we want to create long lasting and positive change in this nation, the movement and the drive has to come from within each and every whānau in this country.

Our role in this, is to support whānau to find that drive.

Tēnā koutou katoa.

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ENDS

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