Nats weigh in over Roxburgh health camp bailout

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern.
The National Party is speaking out strongly against the Government's decision to not bail out the Stand Children's Services village in Roxburgh.

National’s spokesperson for children Alfred Ngaro said he was "deeply disappointed" that the Government was refusing to step in.

“The Stand children’s camp in Roxburgh is facing closure unless it receives the $3 million funding boost it needs to keep providing support to the 380 traumatised children that pass through its centre each year,” Mr Ngaro said.

He said by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean and local mayors had discussed the issue with the Minister for Children "but their pleas have been rejected".

Fiona Inkpen
Fiona Inkpen

“I hope the Prime Minister walks her talk and gives the organisation the financial support it needs by its Tuesday deadline."

Yesterday,  after a ''month-long struggle'' seeking Government backing for the village in Roxburgh, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed there would be no bailout for the facility.

A statement confirming whether the Roxburgh village would close would be made on Tuesday next week, but ''things are looking pretty grim'', Stand chief executive Dr Fiona Inkpen said yesterday.

But the Public Service Association, the union for Stand Children's Services, still plans to mobilise the Teviot Valley community by holding a public meeting in Roxburgh tomorrow.

Stand Children's Services announced last month its children's villages in Roxburgh and Otaki would close because of a $3million funding shortfall.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said he and various other local politicians had been fighting the potential closure since then.

Mr Cadogan, Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull met Minister for Children Tracey Martin in Dunedin last Friday, and Tim and Bryan Cadogan then flew to Wellington in a bid to meet Ms Ardern.

They had a teleconference with the Prime Minister yesterday, during which Ms Ardern confirmed there would be no additional funding for Stand or the Roxburgh village, Tim Cadogan said.

He said he was ''heartbroken'' by the news, saying the fight had ''always been for the kids''.

Dr Inkpen said Stand was still consulting its staff, and no final decision about closing the Roxburgh facility would be made until next Tuesday.

She praised the efforts of Southern mayors to save the Roxburgh children's village.

When asked to comment yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern passed questions from the Otago Daily Times to Minister for Children Tracey Martin.

Mrs Martin said Stand was contracted by Oranga Tamariki to care for the children.

''Ministers should not be directing which particular services are purchased.''

She confirmed she and the Prime Minister discussed the issue with local mayors yesterday.

''One of the things we said [to the mayors] was that Oranga Tamariki would monitor the 21 children who at any time would be in the village to ensure there was no gap in their support.

''Oranga Tamariki has told me there is a network of strong, capable providers in the area who are willing to respond to a potential closure and the ministry is already talking to them about alternative options.''

The public meeting about Stand Children's Services Roxburgh village will be held at the Teviot Lodge, opposite Roxburgh Area School, at 3pm tomorrow.

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