NZ Budget gives boost for Pacific education, languages and health

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By RNZ Pacific

The well-being of Pacific people in New Zealand has been recognised in this year’s Budget with increases in funding for the community in education, languages, health and business.

The government said the initiatives announced in the Budget would provide Pacific peoples with more scope to lift their own well-being.

It also said that by embracing Pacific values and co-designing initiatives with Pacific peoples, equality can start to be a reality.

READ MORE: NZ’s 2019 ‘Wellbeing’ Budget – ‘Building the blocks’

Boost for Pacific education
The Budget provides NZ$27.4 million over four years to ensure Pacific students and their families have the skills, knowledge and opportunities to pursue education.

This includes Pacific PowerUP, an educational programme that aimed at actively supporting Pacific parents, families and communities to support their children’s learning.

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The Budget will also provide $NZ14.5 million to the Ministry for Pacific Peoples to grow opportunities for young people not in employment, education or training.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio said the the funding will grow opportunities with education providers in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to place up to 2220 Pasifika young people into employment, education or training though the Pacific Employment Support Service.

Pacific Language Unit to be established
A major boost for Pacific Languages was also announced in the Budget.

It allocated NZ$20 million over four years so the Ministry for Pacific Peoples can establish a new Pacific Language Unit, with a set of language support functions to help ensure their survival.

New Zealand currently holds Samoan, Cook Island, Tongan, Tuvaluan, Fijian, Niuean and Tokelauan language weeks every year.

Many Pacific languages are struggling to survive within their communities in New Zealand and Aupito said that without action Pasifika risk losing their wisdom, culture, and sense of belonging.

Funding for Pacific peoples’ health and well-being
An important part of delivering improved health outcomes for Pacific peoples will be to increase their health workforce.

This will be done with funding of NZ$14.3 million over four years for a strengthened training pathway, from secondary school to tertiary study, work experience and work placements including increasing the number of Pacific people who are nurses and midwives.

There will also be increased investment of NZ$9.8 million over four years in developing innovative Pacific community initiatives, including some aimed at sharing evidence-based Pacific models of care.

The Budget also provides NZ$12 million in funding for rheumatic fever programmes to reduce the incidence rate among Māori and Pacific peoples and support better management of the illness.

In addition it invests $NZ1 million to research how a whānau-centred approach to primary healthcare can improve outcomes for Māori and Pacific peoples.

There was a focus on mental health in the Budget and there has been provision to fund up to eight programmes for Māori and Pacific people designed to strengthen personal identity and connection to the community.

Transforming the Pacific economy
The Budget provides NZ$11 million over four years to boost the Pacific Business Trust.

This funding will expand the delivery of business services, and support industry and community economic development activities focused on growing Pacific businesses and job opportunities.

It will also include research, monitoring and evaluation of Pacific peoples’ contribution to New Zealand’s economy.

  • This article is published under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.
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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz