Contract signals new way of helping youth

Otago Youth Wellness Trust founder Dame Patricia Harrison and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English...
Otago Youth Wellness Trust founder Dame Patricia Harrison and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English sign a "high trust" contract at Phoenix House in Dunedin yesterday, while trust chairman Malcolm Farry looks on. Photo by Craig Baxter.
It was a day Dame Patricia Harrison thought would never come.

The founder and former chairwoman of the Otago Youth Wellness Trust yesterday signed a social services "high trust" contract between the Otago Youth Wellness Trust and the Government, which heralds a new way of working with the community sector.

The contract is one of the first in New Zealand to be signed between the Government and community social service organisations like the Otago Youth Wellness Trust, and aims to make it easier for social services to deliver effective services to clients and their families and focus on achieving good outcomes for them, rather than ticking contract boxes.

Dame Patricia said the Otago Youth Wellness Trust was a free community-based service which supported 11- to 18-year-olds with case management using social workers, and provided mentoring, educational support and health services liaison and information.

After signing the contract with Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, Dame Patricia said it was a "momentous day".

"For the last 10 years, we've advocated for [health, education, police and social welfare] agencies to come together to fund objectives which demonstrate the needs of the kids.

"Our service has become a 'wrap-around' service where young people are assessed and their needs are identified.

"All of their needs are then addressed as a whole.

"I didn't dream of this day, because until now, I thought the agencies were far too focused on what they thought was necessary.

"This morning, the integrated contract has been acknowledged by the Government.

"That is a momentous occasion."

Mr English acknowledged the trust's fine work with Otago's young people.

Family and Community Services deputy chief executive Richard Wood said the contract showed the Otago Youth Wellness Trust had been working with the Government for many years and that it was "trustworthy and capable of delivering what the Government wants".

"It shows the Government has faith in these organisations."

So far, only three other contracts have been signed with the Government.

They are with Te Runanga o Te Rarawa in Kaitaia, Life to the Max (Horowhenua) and the Coromandel Independent Living Trust.



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