Relationships Aotearoa to close today

Written By: - Date published: 8:50 am, June 9th, 2015 - 19 comments
Categories: class war, john key, making shit up, national, radio, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: ,


I blogged about this previously.  Relationships Aotearoa will close its doors today and the actions the Government has taken to address related issues are looking increasingly inept.

From Radio New Zealand yesterday morning:

The Ministry of Social Development has met with five other providers; Barnardos, Presbyterian Support, Stand Children’s Service, Lifeline and one other unnamed group.

Relationships Aotearoa strategic adviser Cary Hayward said the only organisation still at the negotiating table was Stand Children’s Service.

He said the Ministry had given assurance that five providers were lined up but that was not the case.

“It’s clear that they weren’t in a position to be able to take on Relationships Aotearoa’s work, but we are fortunate to be able to be working with Stand Children’s Service to transition a proportion of our clients and our staff.”

The ministry said it talked to five agencies and Stand Children’s Services agreed to be the main provider. It would take on about 70 clinical staff, of which about 25 percent have transferred.

Deputy chief executive of community investment Murray Edridge said all five agencies were still working with the ministry.

The Government had previously suggested that plans were in place to cover clients if and when Relationships Aotearoa closed its doors.  In fact on May 26 officials made the announcement about the  five organisations being prepared to take over.

Last night MSD branded Radio New Zealand’s claim as mischievous nonsense and then stated that three of the five entities had agreed to take primary rules and two others would take “supporting roles”.  Time will tell but I suspect that the next few weeks is going to show the transition process to be a colossal f*&k up.

MSD also tried to blame Relationships Aotearoa for current problems, and claimed that it was being obstructive to the hand over, particularly in relation to the exchange of clients’ personal information.  Relationships Aotearoa is justifiably resistant to handing over personal information and client’s files.  Some of the organisation’s clients have complex needs and have through long term contact built up trust in their counsellor.  The easiest way to destroy this faith is for a stranger to suddenly contact one of these persons obviously having at least some of that client’s information which may be incredibly sensitive.

MSD suggested that Privacy Commissioner John Edwards supported its view that there were no significant privacy issues.  He appeared on Morning Report this morning to clarify that this was not the case.  Earlier commentary suggested that he was annoyed that MSD had misrepresented his view.

In Edwards’ view if agreement to hand over information between the provider and client was reached there is no problem but otherwise the situation is fraught.  He also agreed with the view that the hand over was being rushed.  MSD’s view that as funder it has full rights to clients’ information is clearly not correct.

Relationships Aotearoa has had its overall funding slashed continuously since 2008.  It has managed a steep decline of funding reasonably well and has significantly reduced staff numbers.  With a bit of help from the Government it could have continued to have reduced expenses until it could live within Government’s expectations.  That the Government was not prepared to do this shows its complete indifference to those amongst us in need.

And if you recent examples of the Government’s priorities?

But it would not prepay Relationships Aotearoa the sum of $1 million and resign existing contracts to stop it from falling over.

National Ltd TM.  Preferring the rich to the poor and needy for ever.

19 comments on “Relationships Aotearoa to close today”

  1. OMBE 1

    RA was poorly run, and obstuctive. It did not co-operate with Audit NZ or MSD in terms of use of funding requriements ie. so how many people did you actually provide counselling to ? (look at the RA annual report and teh numbers they claimed now). The sense of entitlement from RA management has not been supportable by any verifiable facts for the money they received. Murray Edridge provided a very informative and factual analysis on Duncan Garner Drive/Radio Live which makes me believe that the SFO will likely get involved once the receivers have started their job tomorrow.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Edridge is the person who has been trying to beat up RA for refusing to hand over clients information.

      If you have a look at its funding over the past few years it has suffered significant cuts which it has managed. It still had reserves according to its last annual return. My very strong impression is that it has made responsible decisions in the face of overwhelming pressure. And the last return has a multitude of figures in it.

      Funnily enough I cannot find a link for your Garner-Edridge interview. When did it happen?

      • OMBE 1.1.1

        Try the audio link for yesterday at 5.15pm

        Look through teh annual reports of RA
        and look at the chnages in cost overheads. Last yeat they claim they helped 27,600 people. During the media recently the number was just 7000. MSD have been trying for some time to get a verification for on teh numbers and have been stonewalled by RA managment.

        • mickysavage

          I listened to it and I do not agree with your analysis.

          RA had legal advice which they followed. They should not be criticised for doing this.

          The organisation has been in crisis because of the Government’s actions. That it has not been able to respond quickly is not surprising.

          Your SFO comment is specially disingenuous. A liquidator is to be appointed and Everidge said that he did not know what the results would be. There was nothing that he said which could even be implied as indicating the SFO would get involved.

        • tracey

          How long have MSD been concerned?

      • mpledger 1.1.2

        If you look at Murray Edridge linked in profile
        you can see he was chief executive at Barnardos before going to MSD. I guess we must judge it a conincidence that Barnados was one of the groups supposed to take over part of RA’s job.

        • Sirenia

          Barnados does not generally do counselling, so it was strange that they were on the list, unless they were considering a whole new counselling business. But there could be some historic antagonism going on between RA and others. Stand, which has got the bulk of the contract, is the old Children’s Health Camps which also seems strange. Not known for counselling expertise for adults.

    • tracey 1.2

      Thanks OMBE, can you link to the pertinent parts of the report?

      Do you know how long MSD have been worried about RA?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.3

      “Verifiable facts.”

      Well we know that no-one else is prepared to do the work they were doing, so it looks like the only person with a fact-free analysis is you. Do you often allow yourself to be duped like this?

  2. Sirenia 2

    This is very serious mishandling by the Minister and MSD. There are hundreds of vulnerable children and families involved and relationships developed with counsellors over a long time. There are also complex relationships between those vulnerable families and other agencies such as family court, CYFs, schools etc. Relationships Aotearoa counsellors often played a facilitation role among people and agencies around that family. Some files will be large and complex. People are not widgets to be shipped around.

    We are risking lives and deaths with this mess. If there really were governance issues with RA then governance help could easily have been provided and the organisation could have continued. I am astounded at how badly this has been handled by government.

  3. Charles 3

    MSD actively engaged in undermining social development
    MSD misrepresenting views
    MSD trying to measure specific psychological indicators with unrelated material acquisitions…

    “Sounds like they’re out of touch, or incompetent, or both. Ra ra ra! down with MSD, who needs the Orwellian named MSD anyway? Labour created that mess! Who needs the government involved in social development of anything..?”

    Now who would benefit from promoting that mindset? Hmm. I wonder. Expect to see the end of MSD, should National win another election, maybe sooner.

  4. AsleepWhileWalking 4

    Sorry, but as someone who has been involved in seeking funding from MSD this bit is incorrect:

    “MSD’s view that as funder it has full rights to clients’ information is clearly not correct.”

    It is written into the contract that they have full access to client files. (Of course the Privacy Commissioner is correct to express the horror of that, given that clients have NO IDEA that this is the case, and given that the information belongs to the client, not the contracting NGO….it’s not as if they are asking their clients to agree to sharing of personal information with funders in most cases…ugh. No doubt if clients were presented with a form *consenting* to info sharing this would be framed as “their choice” to share information with the funder in exchange for critical assistance – double ugh).

    This was one of the reasons I resigned last year from an organisation who was about to agree this type of funding out of desperation in an ever tightening funding environment. Clients with *extreme* backgrounds deserve better than to be placed in this predicament.

    • mickysavage 4.1

      Thanks AWW. I see similar forms quite regularly. It is fascinating what the Privacy Act can do to the even apparently clear forms and the ethical obligations that counsellors have makes this a much more difficult issue than MSD thinks.

  5. mac1 5

    I get the feeling that I am seeing another potential debacle like the teacher pay system changeover whereby the change was made before ensuring that the new systems were capable of handling the change.

    A similar case is in the situation of the sale of community housing to the Salvation Army who ended up not wanting a bar of it.

    This government calls itself good managers?

    • Sirenia 5.1

      Although this time we have no Campbell Live to champion it on behalf of those wronged. We are also talking about some of the most vulnerable, traumatised and at risk children and adults in the country. Unless this is sorted quickly there will be consequences.

      It is really tough being a contractor to government these days with huge and moving hoops to jump through as well as a constant requirement to do more with less. Bullying is not unknown.

  6. Sirenia 6

    $1m would have kept RA open. Yet Stand, the old Children Health Camps, gets $3m to take over some of the contracts. Something not right in this equation.

  7. adam 7

    Now who are Serco again?

    Do MP’s own shears?

    Opps nothing to see here… move along.

  8. heather 8

    I have to say the old Children’s Health camps would have to be the most peculiar organisation to take over Relationship Services work.
    What do we know of this organisation? what experience have they in providing the complex work of Relationship Services?
    What is happening to those people who do not have a councellor to work with at the moment? Is the Government going to say sorry, again, if someone dies?
    Did the contract for Relationship Services change with MSD, did they, Iike other organisations have to provide more services for less funding?
    Why did all the other organisations turn down the work? possible for the same reason Salvation Army turned down the State Housing.
    There are so many unanswered questions in this sorry saga.

  9. Seal 9

    MSD has a stated aim to reduce the number of NGOs that it funds. It is going to be very specific about targeting. Expect massive cuts to many agencies and services.

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