After last month's budget announcement, the 4th Well-Being budget, PHANZ National Office team members (Alana, Policy Analyst; Lavinia, Communications Advisor; Chris, Policy Advisor - Māori) huddled down to review the budget initiatives and tasked themselves with selecting their top pick and why they are looking forward to seeing investment in this area.
Alana, a new mum, was keen to investigate what budget initiatives targeted the first 1000 days of a child's life. Research shows that it is critical to invest in the first 1000 days, between a woman’s pregnancy and a child’s 2nd birthday, to ensure every child gets the strongest start to life. Alana was pleased to see investment in Specialist Mental Health and Addiction Services as it included maternal and infant mental health services too. Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death in Aotearoa, and wāhine Māori are 3x more likely than Pākehā to die by suicide during pregnancy or within six weeks of birth (see Helen Clark Foundation ‘It Takes a Village’). Although there are many determinants that affect tamariki within their first 1000 days, initiatives that support the mama’s mental health particularly during the fourth trimester were welcome investments.
Lavinia, who is passionate about planetary health and the urgent need to combat the climate crisis, was keen to review the Budget’s investment initiatives to reduce emissions and meet our climate goals. Our health depends on the health of our planet. For Lavinia, Budget2022 showed a commitment by the Government to combat the climate crisis.
Of course, there are criticisms about what could have been done better and what still needs to be done. But let’s focus on the positives, shall we! It was awesome to see the recognition of Indigenous knowledge and the vital role it has to play in the fight against climate change, with $162 million set aside for transitioning whenua Māori entities to lower emission land use, and developing a Māori Climate Action Plan which will include mechanisms to ensure diverse Māori participation in climate policy and climate action. The package also includes $36 million to strengthen mātauranga-based approaches to reducing biological emissions.
Steps are being taken and initiatives have been invested in to cut emissions and slow the pace of global warming, to ensure a healthy planet for our future generations. But it takes a concerted effort by us all, it takes a village, to achieve these goals.
Chris, a Māori public health advocate and journalist looked at the package of measures involving Māori and the wider message we can draw regarding our focus areas. Whilst numerous generic measures announced such as with housing, dental treatment and solo-parenting may have significant application for Māori, our PHANZ 'Advocating Public Health Policy for Māori' checklist was applied revealing quite a number of boxes can be ticked by what Chris calls a smattering of allocations across climate, business and determinants of health for Māori - plus the big health re-set. The key will be how many of these are delivered as part of the current system that often fails Māori or one that is taking heed to open up new ways of approaching things that resonate with Māori and includes checklist items like "is clearly based on a framework concordant with Māori views" or "recognises diverse Māori realities".
Pre-election, one might recognise Labour spin playing down opportunities for red-neck kick back if Māori are mentioned too often due the high rate of systemic failure it oversees - so they have pitched it about right with various mentions, whilst leaving otherwise obvious pressure points (think Three Waters or justice system) to be covered by general allocations and underlying equity theme. A downside only hearing the 'equity' narrative per article three of Te Tiriti, is we don't hear enough about article two initiative where Māori self-determination can flourish having removed colonial shackles. It is encouraging to see our Pacific cousins acknowledged with allocations for increasing their voice, and capacity in health, education and employment. The energies of all is going to be required to grow our response to the kaupapa ahead - our PHANZ focus at present includes Planetary Health, Determinants of Health, Poverty and Workforce Development. The 'mauri' meter on each of these is bumped up a notch by last month's budget but will require the right kawa or package of actions to make the most of things.