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Government incompetence threatens Relationships Aotearoa

Written By: - Date published: 11:19 am, May 26th, 2015 - 48 comments
Categories: national, national/act government, same old national - Tags: ,

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.

From Radio New Zealand:

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.

48 comments on “Government incompetence threatens Relationships Aotearoa”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    It isn’t incompetence, it’s malice, motivated by profit. The market will provide.

    • wyndham 1.1

      The market – – the market. Tolley keeps repeating that “Others will step up……..” They’re not even bothering to deny it any more.

    • mickysavage 1.2

      Cheers OAB. I always try to think the best of people but I suspect you may be right …

      • North 1.2.1

        Jeeee…..Zuz ! That photograph of the two of them……The Crazed Harridan and The Weirdo !

  2. Heather Grimwood 2

    I had wondered the same OAB. The need must still remain, even increase as fiscal situation worsens for so many.

  3. venezia 3

    Yes. A continuation of the privatisation agenda.

    • Chris 3.1

      …using the same old recipe. Manufacture a crisis, blame the organisation, pretend it’s doing everything they can to “help” it to overcome its “incompetence”, then finally give up despite never having the intention to do anything but close them down.

      The interesting thing with RS is that they gave the government an amazing run for its money. I don’t think anyone would’ve picked the stand-off lasting for more than two years. Time and time again over that period RS kept meeting all of government’s faux demands which forced government to become more and more unreasonable. My bet is that nobody in government would’ve ever thought RS would’ve held on into Tolley’s time, and I bet Bennett’s annoyed they weren’t dispensed with on her watch.

      • Chooky 3.1.1

        +100….and I hear Nurse Maud which provides services for the elderly and disabled is also being financially run down….and their brilliant workers are way underpaid

      • North 3.1.2

        You’re spot on there Chris……manufacture a crisis, pump it for all it’s worth to a gullible, uninformed/misinformed public, then blame/vilify the practitioners.

        Simon Power and justice ministers succeeding him did exactly that with Legal Aid. Look at the dog’s breakfast Legal Aid has become. Ask any District Court judge. And if you care not to believe them have a look at what retiring Supreme Court judge Justice Tipping had to say in his valedictory sitting –

        http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/7549237/Longest-serving-judge-hits-out-at-legal-aid

        Really, this government is beneath contempt !

  4. Dialey 4

    Not forgetting that it was Relationships Aotearoa that despite the devastating loss of their staff in the collapse of the CTV building in the Christchurch earthquake, continued to provide counselling to the affected Cantabrians. If this is the way the government treats their NGO partners, there will soon be no takers for their contracts and thus leaving the field open for “for profit” organisations to cream off our most vulnerable

      • Charles 4.1.1

        “Access to justice is not just a human right for individuals. It is central to our constitution and social wellbeing. Access to justice enables the rule of law. One of the rule’s tenets is that all are treated equally and all are equally accountable under the law. The rule of law ensures that we live in a safe, peaceful, harmonious, free and democratic society.”

        As you say above, it’s malice, but not for profit. These people are a reflection of the good people of NZ who think he with the highest status is obliged to destroy those below. Theres another word for it, but who cares. It’s been our way since we turned up here.

  5. Sabine 5

    How many more services does this government need to cut and starve into closing before we can call it deliberate and on purpose?

    MS, really it is not hard to understand why the government would do this.

    a. saving budget to spend it elsewhere
    b. because we can and no one really cares
    c. surplus (TM)
    d. the market will provide
    e. because fuck it why not

    I personally think it is a mixture of b – d with an extra does of e for good measure.

  6. Sacha 6

    RA believes officials have not been negotiating in good faith recently.
    http://relationships.org.nz/press-releases/

  7. mickysavage 7

    Gee they do not hold back …

    “RA’s Board and senior management team have been working intensively and in good faith over the last 10 days to seek constructive pathways forward. The options we have explored included a safe and respectful transition for clients and staff if services were to close. Unfortunately, it now appears that funders had already committed to RA’s closure …

    Last Tuesday we met with Minister Tolley where she assured us that RA would continue to be contracted if we remained solvent. We assured funders that RA would be solvent once contracts for the 2015/16 year were finalised.

    On Friday, 22 May we received an offer of a 9 – 12 week transition from the agencies. Our legal advisers reviewed the offer and determined that the offer would expose RA to significant breaches of law. Our counter offer sent on Sunday, 24 May sought to remove the illegalities.

    Unfortunately, our financial position worsened by Government’s needless delay means we cannot afford to transition clients. We had hoped to transition clients over 9 – 12 weeks, however, the offer made on Friday was rescinded yesterday.

    Government could have easily reached an agreement with us that was equitable for all concerned. It is fair to say that we feel betrayed …

    RA has been a loyal partner to government for decades, and we acted in good faith over the past 10 days to reach a mutually agreeable position.

    The actions of Officials appear to have been misleading. “This will be of concern to the wider NGO sector.

    The outcome will result in an immediate closure of RA nationwide. The exact timing is still to be worked out, but it is likely that our doors will be closed to our 7000 current clients by the end of the week.

    Additionally, up-to 900 people will need to be referred back to Court, and 183 people will lose their jobs.”

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    If this government is doing something that destroys a community service you can be assured that it’s not incompetence but purposeful action. They’re looking for more ways to shuffle taxpayer money into the hands of their rich mates and having an existing efficient service that’s not owned by their mates doesn’t do that.

    • Chooky 8.1

      +100…will NZ be flooded with corporate yankee counselling services?
      ….yankee corporate charter schools?
      ….yankee corporate jails?
      …..yankee corporate BIG Pharma dictatorship?
      ….yankee corporate TPP takeover?
      ….yankee copyright dictatorship ?
      ….yankee corporate take over of our environmental laws and democracy ?

      ……..jonkey yankee corporate flag anyone ?

      Not yankee doodle dandy at all!

  9. SMILIN 9

    Cant any of these bastards in this govt get it we are going down the tubes with Keys rose coloured glasses on that the all powerful capitalist system will trickle down all the benefits of having a protected wealthy be buggered if the ones suffering marriages are going to hell because of a typo or the blatant reality that families are falling apart because we have the policies of a drunk running our country which survive on abuse of human rights

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      You make the mistake of assuming that National actually cares about anyone other than the rich who are doing quite well out of their policies.

  10. Sirenia 10

    Finding a counsellor that suits you and that you have a good relationship with is the important thing and that can take some time. You just can’t change between any old counsellor the government sends you to. For the price the government is paying it is unlikely there will be well trained professional staff.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 10.1

      Yeah, you don’t in fact know what you’re talking about, eh.

      RA meeting targets over and over and over again just sailed right over your head in favour of Homer Simpson’s monkey.

      • Chooky 10.1.1

        ? OAB…you dont make any sense…if you are replying to Sirenia

        • One Anonymous Bloke 10.1.1.1

          1. RA met all the targets they were set.
          2. The statement that they couldn’t have been employing well trained staff takes no account of point 1.
          3. How can you tell it makes no sense? You have trouble telling fact from fiction at the best of times.

          • Atiawa 10.1.1.1.1

            Hard day OAB. Where’s relationship services when they’re needed eh? I heard them saying we can ring “Lifeline”. How thoughtful.

          • Chooky 10.1.1.1.2

            OAB …you still dont make sense….nor do many of your personal attacks on individuals at various times …makes me wonder where you are coming from

            Sirenia is saying that for people with a good relationship with an RA counsellor ( and according to a psychiatrist who refers to RA often, they are well trained !… many with university Clinical Psychology quals)

            …moreover Sirenia is saying it is not good enough for the government just to expect these people/clients to go to any old counsellor elsewhere that the government sends them to

            ….and Sirenia is saying ….that for the price this government is willing to pay counsellors outside RA….it is unlikely they will be well trained

            (Sirenia correct me if i am wrong)

    • Chooky 10.2

      +100 Sirenia

      • Atiawa 10.2.1

        The yanks are expert at killing a few of their own through ” friendly fire”

  11. Clemgeopin 11

    I just received an email anf a petition to sign from Jacinda Ardern about this important issue. I am not sure if this petition has already been published on the Standard.

    http://action.labour.org.nz/child-protection?utm_campaign=150526_cyfs&utm_medium=email&utm_source=nzlabour

    Her email says this:

    Dear Clem,
    Right now dozens of children are being abandoned by the government at the very time they need continued support.

    Currently, child protection law means a young person leaves CYFS care at 17, but other state support, like housing and student allowances, doesn’t start until age 18. This means a young person who has been in foster care or a CYFs residence is suddenly left to fend for themselves. For some this means becoming homeless – for others, it can get even worse.

    Clem, her government is leaving these young people out in the cold.

    This isn’t right. But we have a chance to change this right now.

    The government is reviewing this part of our child protection laws. If enough of us sign a petition telling the government to raise the child protection age, the minister responsible, Anne Tolley, will be forced to listen to us or face a backlash as hundreds of Kiwi kids are left without any support every year.

    Will you sign the petition calling for the Minister to raise the age of protection?

    Kellie was one of those children.

    “Leaving care for me was especially stressful because my birthday is in November, right in the middle of NCEA exams. Thinking back now I remember it was a period filled with confusion and frustration. I wasn’t sure whether I would continue to live with the same foster parents as I had or move to another, or whether I had to move out. No 17 year old should ever have to worry about these issues.” – Kellie

    Seventeen is too young to have to fend for yourself without any support. All Kiwi kids deserve to be looked after until they are old enough to support themselves.

    Together, we can help these vulnerable young people out of their desperate situation.

    Thanks,

    Jacinda Ardern
    Labour’s Spokesperson for Children
    ————
    Please click the link above to sign the petition if you agree or want to. I do….Cheers, Clemgeopin

  12. Ron 12

    It sounds as if Lifeline are looking to pick up the contracts from Relationship Services. The government hinted that other NGO’s were keen to take over and from tonight’s news Lifeline appear to be it.
    Not sure how they would be able to pick up all the services.

    • Ron 12.1

      An update now announced that there will be five new agencies consisting of Barnardos, Family Works, Stand Children’s Services and Lifeline. The fifth has yet to be named.

  13. infused 13

    Well, when you constantly miss contract objectives, what do you expect?

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      Nobody missed any contract objectives until such time as National cut funding to meet those objective to well below what it cost to provide them. This slammed into the reality that neither National, Act UF or the Māori Party seem capable of understanding – that you can’t get anything if you don’t pay for it.

      Of course, their whole point of not paying for essential government services is so that they can give the rich more tax cuts.

  14. Reddelusion 14

    Any one notice when right wing media ( sarc) talk a about (I agree shady) Saudi farm deal its tax payers money, likewise Sky city but when it comes to Relationship New Zealand its government funding like some how their over spending, funding top ups etc ups are not tax payers money or tax payer funding or tax payer top ups.

    • mickysavage 14.1

      How about you develop powers of reason before commenting?

    • ropata 14.2

      deluded forgot about the 7000 people left in the lurch, 183 lost jobs, 900 people back in the court system, or government duplicity and bad faith.

      john key is a nice guy and the media should not be mean.

  15. Drowsy M. Kram 15

    So the strategy (months in the planning?) is for one soon-to-be-defunct charity’s workload ( http://relationships.org.nz/ ) to be allocated to other NZ charities, Stand Children’s Services, and one other ‘provider’. Genuinely hope no-one slips between the cracks as the savings pour in.

    NZ is in DIRE need of fair, ethical government. Over the last 7 years the dollar addicts have made a killing – just follow the blood money.

    National-led govt enriches the wealthy (cuts top tax rate, then increases GST [Keywee liar]).

    National-led govt bleeds public assets (but no more [Keywee liar]), then begins mass privatisation of state-owned houses – the land-Lords thank you.

    National-led govt promotes a TPPA that undermines NZ sovereignty.

    National-led govt approves deployment of troops to Iraq.

    National-led govt starves Relationships Aotearoa to death.

    Bad outcomes? Fiddling while the planet burns? Dollar addicts don’t care as long as they get their fix – “Let them eat spin.”

  16. James Growley 16

    Why do you think this entity has never filed a set of accounts to show how its funding was accounted for?

  17. North 17

    You’ve unwittingly hit on a good point there RudeDelusion, while unwittingly making yourself look the prime thicko with your ‘oh so clever’ keyboard molestations. It is of course entirely meet when talking about expenditure to benefit New Zealanders broadly to talk in a collective sense about “government funding”. That is the purpose of “the government” after all. It’s entirely meet also to use the more personal reference “taxpayers’ money” when talking about expenditure solely to benefit gauche rich fucks and thieves. I appreciate it’s a tall order to expect you to understand the distinction. Do try though, please. Some work on your grammatical presentation wouldn’t go amiss either.

  18. keyman 18

    counseling is voodoo and as the market dictates the strong survive and weak perish ,
    there is no place for the weak ,poor ,or disenfranchised they are surplus to requirements
    and don’t fit into the balance sheet.

  19. SMILIN 19

    Queen Anne chocolates and let them eat cake Tolley
    Make of that what u will

  20. OMBE 20

    RA havent lived up to their end of the arrangement to provide services for the funding they received. RA clearly havent been able to manage the funds they have been given. Like any organisation receiving taxpayer cash, they need to be able to provide evidence of outcomes. In the last Annual Report, RA claimed to have over 26,000 clinets, in recent media it is only 7000. I doubt either figure is correct as neither OAG, treasury or MSD have been allowed to audit RA. And, frankly any organisation with Sonny Thomas running the spin seriously has some credibility issues. It woudlnt surprise me if the SFO end up having a look at the books…..

  21. Drowsy M. Kram 21

    “It woudlnt [sic] surprise me if the SFO end up having a look at the books…..”

    Is this a smear, or spin? You be the judge.

    “And, frankly any organisation with Sonny Thomas running the spin seriously has some credibility issues.” Never met the man, so can’t evaluate this character assassination. What, no suggestion that clinicians were ripping off the tax-payer?

    http://relationships.org.nz/relationships-aotearoa-our-story/

    ” 60,000 clients, 25-30,000 seen nationally each year and 30,000 for ChCh Earthquake since the first earthquakes – demand for this service is still growing.
    7,000 clients disrupted immediately – involving CYFS, mental health, courts & police. Stress for these clients can trigger suicidal acts or homicidal violence. At best it breaks the trust and engagement with clinicians.
    Successive funding cuts since 2012 of nearly $5 million. Not funding top ups, just cuts that were not coordinated among departments or with reasonable timeframes.”

    Bad outcomes? As long as they get their fix the dollar addicts don’t care – “Let them eat spin.”

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