In early May The Fono was visited by four MPs from the Labour – NZ First coalition government. It was a great opportunity for the MPs to hear about The Fono’s work and vision for our Pacific Community and their families.
We hosted Hon. Minister Carmel Sepuloni, MP Kelston Electorate, Minister for Social Development and Disability Issues, Associate Minister for Art, Culture and Heritage and Pacific Peoples; Hon. Minister Phil Twyford, Te Atatu Electorate, Minister for Housing and Urban Development and Transport, MP Deborah Russell, New Lynn Electorate, MP for New Lynn and Hon. Anahila Kanongataá-Suisuiki Labour MP.
It was an auspicious occasion filled with talanoa, discussion, sharing and providing an opportunity for The Fono to get an understanding of where government priorities lie in healthcare.
The Fono CEO Tevita Funaki says the visit was a great success.
“It’s important for us to get an understanding of where the priorities of government are, and how we can capitalise on those to support our families and our patients, clients and their families.”
As Minister for Housing and Urban Development and Transport, Hon. Phil Twyford was the perfect MP to engage with in order to understanding the housing plight and the government’s solutions.
“A priority for us is getting our patients and their families into warm homes,” says Tevita, who talked with MPs on how The Fono organises support to wrap around those families.
“It was good to get an understanding from Phil on the housing portfolio. Housing is a significant problem for our Pacific and high needs people. It has multiple impacts in terms of their wellbeing – whether it’s health, education or social.”
Minister Twyford described The Fono as an amazing primary healthcare organisation working mostly with Pacific communities and providing high-quality low-cost health services.
“It was great to visit and get a briefing on their latest work,” says the Minister.
Being a Pacific provider, with social workers working tirelessly to address family violence, Tevita says it was good for The Fono to hear some plans of the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) from Hon. Carmel Sepuloni.
“Hearing that the government want to better support social workers with professional development is heartening,” says Tevita.
“From our view, what was successful was giving the MPs a deeper understanding of The Fono and our services while, at the same time, hearing about what their policies are and how we can align.
“It’s a relationship/partnership that’s important to us. It’s important to build and develop these relationships with ministers and members of parliament, as well as the various agencies they’re responsible for.
“The challenge for us is how we make sure that they’re accountable to our people.”