1. Overview of this report
Priorities for action
This report focuses on issues affecting the delivery of social services within the Tauranga City boundaries to five categories of families:
Families whose children have challenging behaviour
Families affected by domestic violence
Families caring for older family members
Families needing affordable accommodation
Families in need of respite.
Local social service providers have identified these as the families under most pressure and with the greatest needs. In this report, they are described as “priority families”. The FACT project team believes these families should be the initial focus of any improvements in social service delivery.
This report describes the social services that currently exist to help these priority families, and identifies issues, gaps and overlaps in service provision. In its next phase, the FACT project will consider what actions are needed to improve services for these families, and how those actions can be supported.
Several common themes run through this report. Perhaps the most significant is Tauranga’s rapid growth. Tauranga City is fast becoming one of New Zealand’s largest cities. But as the population has grown and diversified, resourcing for social services has not kept pace.
Another recurring theme is the gap between the perceptions of Tauranga as an affluent community and the reality of living in Tauranga for many families – a gap which can be a source of real stress. Many social service workers believe Tauranga’s apparent affluence may be responsible for decisions to direct various programmes addressing disadvantage to other parts of the Bay of Plenty. The reality is, there are more Tauranga residents living with those disadvantages: they just represent a smaller proportion of the population.
Also underlying this report is the recognition shared by local social service providers, health care workers, school principals, teachers, community groups and volunteers that many families are under increasing pressure. While local social service providers are doing the best job they can, often with very limited resources, services in some areas are not meeting local needs. Many providers feel frustrated and overwhelmed by the demand.
The FACT project and other initiatives
The FACT project is intended to help service providers plan their own services, within the context of other services being offered to the same groups of families. This project is one of several initiatives, both national and local, aimed at providing a more co-ordinated delivery of services to communities and families. The project will add value for Tauranga families only if its findings and recommendations are acted on in the context of those other initiatives.
The following is a brief outline of the work being done to address local social service issues by central government, the Tauranga City Council, the Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Environment Bay of Plenty, and the Bay of Plenty District Health Board (DHB).