Extra funding for North Canterbury earthquake recovery not enough - advocates
A Government funding boost to help communities recovering from the November earthquake is just "a drop in the bucket", advocates say.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman announced on Friday that another $500,000 would be going into the Kaikoura, southern Marlborough and Hurunui regions to help residents deal with the ongoing trauma of the November 14 quake.
The funds would go towards free GP visits, targeted support for schools and extending the All Right? wellbeing campaign to rural areas, Coleman said.
The announcement came after concerns were raised in March about Hurunui residents facing a winter of broken homes and disrupted lives, with local support groups having to resort to philanthropy for funding.
After the earthquake, the Government released a $3.7 million relief package, which was a fraction of the $12.8m requested by the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) for psycho-social recovery in the regions affected.
The additional money took the total relief package to $4.26 m.
Hurunui District councillor Julia McLean welcomed the extra funds, but said more would be needed to help those on the ground.
"The money is needed and it will be used for sure, but it's just a drop in the bucket."
She said the extension of the All Right? campaign was "fantastic news" and would encourage people to reach out for help, but the extra funding was not enough to help community organisations struggling to stay afloat.
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"We need to keep people strong and connected."
CDHB member Andy Dickerson said the extra funding was "a step in the right direction, but a tentative baby step".
"I continue to be concerned about the impact of the quakes on the most vulnerable people as we are heading into winter," he said.
"I'm still not convinced there is an appreciation of the damage in the Hurunui District in particular."
Since the earthquake, there had been 7000 free GP visits in Kaikoura and Hurunui, while in Ward, Seddon and Kekerengu there had been more than 650 visits.
Coleman said $100,000 would go towards giving the All Right? programme used after the Christchurch earthquakes a rural focus, improving people's mental and physical wellbeing.
Another $100,000 was targeted for schools, to help staff and students deal with the aftermath of the earthquake.
The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and the Top of the South Rural Support Trust would receive $50,000 in total, to help rural people access health and wellbeing activities.
CDHB chief executive David Meates welcomed the announcement and said the funding would go towards the significant costs incurred as a result of the North Canterbury quakes.