Roxburgh camp death knell likely today

The Roxburgh Health Camp needs unprecedented intervention to survive beyond today.

The closure of the 67-year-old Roxburgh Health Camp, with the loss of 45 jobs, is likely to be confirmed today.

Children's Health Camps chief executive Fiona Inkpen yesterday said the board would decide by lunchtime today whether it could afford to reopen the facility after Christmas, but that was unlikely "unless there is a miracle overnight".

Keeping the camp open was totally dependent on getting an extra $5 million in funding, but the Government had indicated it was not going to help.

"We have been in touch with the Minister [for Social Development] on a daily basis, who has refused to talk to us.

"The Government has acknowledged that health camps are a valued service and that they make a contribution to society but they will not give us more funding," Dr Inkpen said.

Central Otago Mayor Malcolm Macpherson said it was important that the community kept on fighting for the facility.

"We have got a bit of time yet and we will have a new government," he said.

Whether it was a Labour or a National government it would be a new mixture of players and some would have different views.

"If we just roll over and say this is bad luck for the Teviot Valley, then it will happen. We need to do everything we can. Of course no-one's going to lie down in front of a bulldozer, but we need to keep on to it."

The mood in Roxburgh was sombre as the community came to terms with the likely scenario and some residents were reluctant to comment yesterday.

Dr Inkpen said the health camp board had spent all day yesterday debating the issue and seeking solutions.

"The board is having to make some decisions about how to create certainty into the future and if that means closing a camp or two, that's what they will have to do."

The New Zealand Foundation for Child and Family Health and Development's $12.6 million annual contract with the Ministry of Social Development was not enough, and a promise of an extra $414,000 through the new Pathways to Partnership programme would provide just 3.4% of the required $5 million.

The shortfall had been discussed for the past four years after a costing review established the service was underfunded.

"We had such faith in the Pathways Programme which we believed would solve the problem," Dr Inkpen said.

A letter from the ministry to the board on Tuesday said the Government intended to do an independent costing review, but board chairman Wayne Chapman had talked to officials yesterday and it seemed that review would not be completed any time soon, she said.


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