Relationships Aotearoa has a strong history of contributing to the public welfare. It is a not for profit organisation with charitable status dedicated to providing counselling and relationship education to ordinary New Zealanders. It can trace its origins back to 1949.
It has suffered recently from continuous changes to programmes and ever increasing expectations that it will achieve more and more with less and less funding. Thanks to the incompetence of National and Anne Tolley this organisation is currently on the ropes and likely to fold. It could survive if the timing of funding could be advanced and existing contracts renewed. It appears however that the Government is completely indifferent to its plight and completely blase about the dislocation that will be caused to many if RA closes its doors.
Some 7000 people who get counselling will have to find help elsewhere, and of those, up to 900 will be referred back to the courts.
The organisation is New Zealand’s largest provider of counselling services, and 183 staff will lose their jobs.
The organisation has said its funding from government agency contracts had fallen by $4.8 million since 2012, a drop of about 37 percent from $13.1m to a forecast $8.2m. It posted a $271,000 deficit for the year ended 30 June 2014.
Spokesperson Cary Hayward told Nine to Noon this morning that all the organisation needed to remain solvent was a six-week payment in advance and contracts rolled over.
“We would have been able to remain as an organisation so we were just wanting some surety around the contracts and some assurances that the playing field would remain the same for a period of time so that we could get re-establish ourselves financially.”
Mr Hayward said the government was wanting a Rolls Royce service on a Morris Minor fee and it’s just not sustainable.
The drop in funding would be more than enough to destroy most organisations. Going from $13.1 m to $8.2 m in three years is disasterous. Although in recent years RA has made adjustments and reduced its workforce it has not been able to do so sufficiently quickly to maintain cash flow.
Anne Tolley obviously has no sympathy.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley told Checkpoint last week there were deep-seated problems in the financial management of Relationships Aotearoa. She said for years, the agency had not been doing what the Government had been paying it to do.
“I don’t think there’s any evidence of misappropriation, but I do think the fact that they’ve had a pretty unstable chief executive role, four chief executives in a short period of time, I don’t think that helps any organisation, specially when they’re at a time of change.”
Mrs Tolley said the Ministry of Justice changed its domestic violence service contracts in 2012 which resulted in Relationships Aotearoa losing millions of dollars.
She said such government department contract changes happened regularly, and although it was difficult for organisations, they had to learn to adjust and live within their budgets. The taxpayer would not underwrite the organisation’s deficits.
Tolley seems to be saying that it was the change in Government service contracts in 2012 and having four chief executives in a short period and RA not doing what the Government wants it to do which are the cause of the problems. Take your pick which reason is the cause of RA’s problems.
The dislocation to many providers and recipients of RA’s services will be considerable. Why the government would allow this to occur is beyond me.