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New Zealand has introduced a Wellbeing Budget in an attempt to address long term challenges in mental health, child poverty, children in state care, family violence and homelessness.

Billions will be invested into mental health and record investments will be made to resolve other key long-term social challenges.

“We have so often heard New Zealanders calling for early intervention and investment in challenging issues to save both money and lives in the long run. That is exactly what this Budget delivers,” said the country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“I’m proud we’re getting on with the job of fixing really difficult issues like mental health, poverty and family violence because they affect so many, and everyone is better off when our collective wellbeing is improved.”

Ms Ardern said the investment into mental health would transform the way kiwis access mental health services, but also try and prevent people needing services in the first place.

She said the Budget also represented systemic change to break the cycle of poverty for kids as well as family and sexual violence.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) commends the government’s first Wellbeing Budget as a serious attempt to improve health for people living in New Zealand.

In particular it commended meaningful allocations in key areas such as mental health and addictions, child wellbeing, family violence and Māori and Pasifika wellbeing.

NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said that more specifically, significant investments had been promised in areas such as school-based health, homelessness, early learning to improve wellbeing; infrastructure support; and kaupapa Māori services.

“Nurses and nursing services will be key to each and every one of these extended services, but we agree with the government’s observation that currently the required workforce needed for them is not in place.”

NZNO President Grant Brookes said NZNO was therefore pleased to see the government identifying specific workforce targets such as the primary mental health services workforce (which must include nurses) and pathways to employment for the Māori and Pasifika health workforce.

“We are particularly pleased that the importance of supporting students to enter into nursing and midwifery practice has been recognised.”