Axing Lifeline contract will be a disaster | The Jackal

1 Aug 2017

Axing Lifeline contract will be a disaster

You may have noticed that the National led government has been running a campaign to make it appear that they actually care about the high numbers of Kiwis committing suicide each year.

The suicide rate in New Zealand remains stubbornly high and in some cases world leading. This is despite the changes the government made to ensure the numbers of people committing suicide are underreported.

But if that wasn’t bad enough, National has decided to cut funding to a service that has been shown to actually help reduce the high numbers of people committing suicide in New Zealand.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Break the Silence: Government axes $800,000 Lifeline contract

In March this year, the Ministry of Health axed a decade-long $800,000 contract for Lifeline to provide suicide-prevention training to frontline workers.

The funding cut, which was revealed to the Herald through documents provided to Labour under the Official Information Act, "devastated" Lifeline - an organisation that has worked to prevent suicide in New Zealand for more than 50 years.

The funding was shifted to a "new preferred supplier" after several contractors pitched for the work last November, a ministry official said.

The supplier that won the funding contract was Le Va, a national health provider based in Manukau. It would roll out the new national suicide prevention training programme, called LifeKeepers, in September, said chief executive Dr Monique Faleafa.

It appears that Le Va has very little ability to help enough at risk people to make a difference to our high and unacceptable rate of suicide in New Zealand.

TOA Pacific Inc, trading as Le Va was until recently an organisation solely focused on looking after older pacific people and reducing violence in the homes of pacific families. They certainly don’t have the depth of knowledge or skills required to replace the services Lifeline has provided.

Pacific inc limited was registered by Wise Trust in July 2013, which is apparently a charitable trust made up of a ‘family of charitable organisations'. One of those associated organisations is Pathways Health Limited, which is currently advertising 995 job vacancies in the areas Le Va requires.

Replacing Lifeline with an organisation that appears to be specifically set up to attain government funding that doesn’t have the experience required or workforce available and are still seeking nearly a thousand employees only a month out from their supposed implementation of a national suicide prevention training programme is just crazy!

It should also be noted that Dr Francis Agnew, one of Pacific Inc limited’s directors, has previously been involved in questionable government funding allocations.

Axing Lifeline's funding will be a disaster on par with Novapay, but worse because it’s people’s lives and not just their pay packets that the National led government is tinkering with.

UPDATE: PM's wife on board of organisation that won million-dollar suicide prevention contract