The Government has launched a programme aimed at curbing the harm and slashing the cost of gang life. And it's starting right here in the Bay of Plenty.
The Government's earmarked $1.1 million for the Bay of Plenty and the East Coast to assist the partners and children of gang members to lead successful lives and help steer young people away from gang life.
The Ministry of Social Development will team up with local social service agencies to provide intensive support services, increased educational achievement and employment opportunities for gang connected families. And there will be a major focus on youth mentoring and positive role modelling.
'Gang life ruins families,” says the Minister for Social Development, Anne Tolley. 'And the social cost through domestic violence and child abuse is unacceptable.”
The government gang initiative comes on the back of some alarming new MSD statistics.
After examining 3.960 patched and prospective gang members known to the police they found that 92 percent have received a main benefit amounting to $525 million in welfare assistance at an average $132,000 per person.
The long term cost to taxpayers of gang members and their children through contact with MSD and CYF is put at $714 million.
The MSD also learned at least 6,000 to 7,000 children have a gang member parent and 27 percent of gang members were recorded as alleged perpetrators of abuse or child neglect.
And those figures represent a massive bill to the taxpayer through benefit payments and child protection.
Anne Tolley says the Government and the MSD aims to use the new initiative to break inter-generational gang life and welfare dependence and reduce the harm caused to families.
'We want the very best for these families and especially their children.”
The two trials will happen over the next two and a half years.