Closure leaves staff in the dark

Up to a dozen Relationships Aotearoa staff in Tauranga face losing their jobs following the news that the national body have failed to remain solvent.

The not-for-profit organisation announced yesterday that branches nationwide will close by the end of the week with the loss of 183 jobs in a move that will directly affect 7000 clients.

Relationships Aotearoa’s Tauranga branch will close their doors this week. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

These measures were revealed after the country’s largest professional counselling and family therapy provider was unable to reach an agreement with Government agencies to help it remain solvent.

RA’s communications and marketing manager Sarah Turnbull told SunLive that 11 staff and one administrator are currently based in Tauranga, while there is a counsellor in both the Whakatane and Thames branches.

Each year an estimated 2500 cases, or 6000 clients, receive counselling in Tauranga. In Whakatane, there are 300 cases, or an estimated 570 clients annually, and 250 cases or 320 clients in Thames.

Comments on SunLive’s Facebook page following the announcement show an outpouring of disappointment at the news.

“Relationship Aotearoa has helped so many families in need,” says one reader. “I totally agree, this is devastating for so many people and whanau/families. Such a bad decision from our government.”

Another says: “How absolutely devastating. Relationships Aotearoa have been amazing to our family over the past seven years - this is just such a tragedy for New Zealand. I am so sad to hear this news.

“I’m am actually shocked that this has happened,” reads another comment. “Angry for those losing their jobs and sad for the people that will never get to experience the helpfulness that was Relationships Aotearoa. Their parenting courses, courses to build people’s confidence all down the drain.”

However, in a statement released late yesterday, RA say the Ministry of Social Development has advised that five agencies have been selected to undertake the work RA had been contracted to provide, which could come as a welcome relief for the non-government agency.

“Since May 15, RA has been working with funders to either renegotiate a contract, or failing that, negotiate a safe transition for clients,” says RA’s interim board member Cary Hayward.

“We were unable to sign their transition offer as that would have meant operating illegally, and when a proposal from us was put forward to remove those issues, the offer to support a transition in which we were involved was rescinded.

“We are pleased to hear that MSD has made such quick progress in identifying alternative providers.

“A safe and managed transition which did not re-traumatise clients, break client trust and rights to privacy had always been at the forefront of our transition negotiations.”

Cary says a significant number of RA clients are Maori and a significant number of clients are dealing with domestic violence issues – both as victims and perpetrators of violence.

As a consequence, the organisation has concerns about capacity and capability to work with domestic violence perpetrators within a family context, as well as working with Maori whanau in a culturally safe way.

“It’s our understanding that none of the named providers currently offer a Maori for Maori service as RA has,” adds Cary.

“Nor does there appear to be a lot experience working with violent perpetrators. We also hold the MSD contract to manage and deliver earthquake trauma and recovery counselling in Christchurch, which does not appear to be a focus of the providers selected.

“The focus of alternative providers tends to be social work-focused services rather than services providing intensive therapeutic interventions.

“So we were pleased to hear there is the possibility that some of our staff will be able to move across to other service providers. It would be a tragedy to lose their level of expertise from the sector.”

Relationships Aotearoa is yet to confirm whether any staff in Tauranga, Whakatane or Thames will be involved in the possible employment shift.



Posted on 29-05-2015 09:09 | By penguin

I suggest you read some of the comments more carefully. You might ponder on the fact that there are part charges on a range of professional services which are quasi ’public.’ Do you condemn those? You might try and empathise with those who need some of the counselling services. You also show shocking ignorance of the wide range of counselling aspects that are far beyond your demeaning reference to

Reflection on economy

Posted on 28-05-2015 11:42 | By Towball

Is it any wonder people and relationships are breaking down from all walks of life when we have a government hell bent on self promotion and personal gain with no empathy for the people of NZ. Nobody is exempt regardless of statis as illness finance berevement leaky home redundancy are only a couple of potential triggers. This is just another example of the arrogance we have from our current Government. Why are they so hell bent on destroying the nation , does John Key think there is more to be made financially from proscecutions now now he has privatised the prison system also ?. Just another example of the dictatorship we have. Like his answer to the flag give us some options to choose from rather than fess up and admit he is wrong in persueing as nationally nobody wants it . Pure arrogance . 100 %.


Posted on 28-05-2015 08:23 | By expatAucklander

The difference is that roads, parks etc are public goods and can be enjoyed at large whereas personal counselling is entirely private. No different to paying for your own physiotherapy, homeopathy etc, there are probably plenty of health related treatments not currently funded that deserve money a lot more than a half hour slot with a shrink to have a whinge about the ex.


Posted on 27-05-2015 17:16 | By penguin

Your lack of logic is incredible. To suggest that all people in emotional "strife" could pay for their counselling beggars belief. I presume you have difficulty with the concept of your rates paying for parks, roads, footpaths, libraries, walkways and so on, some of which you might not use!


Posted on 27-05-2015 16:56 | By Annalist

No problem John, we already fund just about everything else, and as it’s other peoples money (especially if we don’t pay much in tax) then who care how well it’s spent. In fact government should just keep funding every request until our national debt really racks up and we turn into Greece. Of course there are plenty of people who through hard work and sensible choices don’t need constant taxpayers money but who cares about them anyway. Tax and spend seems to be the way to go now.

@ Annalist

Posted on 27-05-2015 16:10 | By Colleen Spiro

Gosh you do not have to have a grasp on why people use this service....They are sometimes the most vulnerable people in Society...PAY? The ONLY people whom will pay now, are you, and me, and all other taxpayers, because these services are being will cost the Government way more in Violent crimes, mental health, benefits etc etc etc.

We will pay

Posted on 27-05-2015 14:00 | By JohnHeb

I am sorry annalist, but services like Relationships Aotearoa save us tax payers, (which by the way includes the clients) significantly more in terms of costs to both the health and justice services than what it costs us. But yes by all means takes the mean spirited and short term approach. That always works out well for everyone.

Living within ones means

Posted on 27-05-2015 12:27 | By Annalist

Being able to remain solvent is the responsibility of the organisation, not the taxpayer. But as the service seems to be so values by its clients those clients could always choose to contribute financially to its running costs. The taxpayer shouldn’t be expected to pay.

It's amazing that...

Posted on 27-05-2015 12:18 | By penguin

...this national government dances around in its usual arrogant, know-all way spending millions on flag crap, bails out an aluminium smelter, spends millions being ’blackmailed

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now