Government Grants $24m to Gumboot Friday Charity

The government has confirmed a $24m funding commitment for the Gumboot Friday charity.

World News

Government Grants $24m to Gumboot Friday Charity

By Jill Lorentz

May 21, 2024

89

Renowned mental health campaigner Mike King and I Am Hope chair Naomi Ballantyne joined Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Mental Health Minister Matt Doocey at Parliament on Wednesday morning to announce a significant financial boost for the charity. The commitment of $6 million in extra funding, which was included in the NZ First-National coalition agreement, will enable I Am Hope to provide free mental health counselling services to over 15,000 young New Zealanders annually – more than doubling its current reach. 

 

This move comes as part of a broader effort by National to address growing concerns surrounding mental health within New Zealand. Last year during their election campaign, they promised to set up a Mental Health Innovation Fund aimed at aiding providers and non-governmental organisations working towards improving mental healthcare. 

 

Mental Health Minister Matt Doocey expressed his belief that prevention and early intervention were critical factors when dealing with issues related to mental health. He praised Gumboot Friday for playing an essential role in enabling access for young people with mild-to-moderate needs to counselling services earlier than before. 

 

Doocey also highlighted research findings indicating that every dollar invested with I Am Hope yielded a social return worth $5.70 back into New Zealand society. This data suggests that not only does this type of investment have positive impacts on individual wellbeing but it also has substantial benefits for the wider community. 

 

King assured everyone present that every cent donated would be accounted for transparently: "Every single cent is going directly towards counsellors," he said. He further emphasised that neither he nor the foundation would be pocketing any portion of these funds – it's all about helping kids who need support. 

 

He thanked ordinary Kiwis who had supported them since 2009 without receiving any funding until now: "They say it takes 16 years to become an overnight sensation... everything we have built up has been due entirely through backing from ordinary New Zealanders." 

 

King expressed his gratitude to the coalition government for believing in their work and also mentioned Deputy General of Mental Health Robin Shearer and her team. The funding will allow I Am Hope to employ another 300 counsellors, he added. 

 

Doocey pointed out that further plans were underway to improve mental health crisis responses. He lamented the current situation where a call placed during a mental health crisis is treated as a criminal justice issue rather than a healthcare concern: "When you call 111 with a physical health problem, you get medical assistance. But if it's a mental health emergency, you get law enforcement." 

 

He acknowledged the police's efforts but stressed that there was an urgent need for better mental health response systems – something they plan on addressing moving forward.



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