The Government's inquiry into mental health and addiction is coming to Tauranga today.
A six-person panel of experts is holding a meeting at the Tauranga Historic Village from 5pm and is encouraging members of the public to come along and share their own views and experiences. Or just listen.
It is one of 25 visits the panel is making to towns and cities across New Zealand.
The purpose is to identify unmet needs and develop recommendations for a better mental health and addiction system.
Professor Ron Paterson, chair of the inquiry, told the Bay of Plenty Times yesterday that the panel had been hearing first-hand accounts of the impact of suicide, alcohol and drugs on families and communities around the country.
He said they had heard about what it was like to be in crisis and also about how many more young people were being affected.
Paterson, a former Health and Disability Commissioner, said the public meeting was a chance for people in Tauranga to have their say.
"Come along. Be part of the inquiry and hopefully part of the solutions."
He said one of the common themes of the meetings so far was that mental health and addiction services were often fragmented, and that a more cohesive system was needed.
The inquiry had also heard from schools, parents and community groups and would be meeting some of those stakeholders today in Tauranga in closed sessions.
Paterson said the panel was coming to Tauranga with an open mind and was looking for suggestions and solutions from the community.
He said there had been some common issues raised nationally and some unique ones raised in the different regions.
"Some common issues that have been raised include difficulties in accessing services, not being treated with kindness and compassion and overuse of seclusion and restraint."
Paterson said Māori were raising a range of issues relevant to iwi and whānau.
"People are coming up with some good ideas, some good constructive stuff. So it's not just what's wrong, it's what is working and what could be done to make things work."
The inquiry aims to set a clear direction for the next five to 10 years that the Government, the mental health and addiction sectors, and the whole community can pick up and make happen.
It is looking at how to prevent mental health and addiction problems, how to intervene early and respond better to people in need, and how to promote wellbeing.
The six-person expert panel includes: Dr Barbara Disley, Josiah Tualamali'i, Professor Ron Paterson (chair), Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, Sir Mason Durie and Dean Rangihuna.
The panel will visit Whakatāne tomorrow and will hold a public meeting from 2pm at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae Complex, Mataatua Marae.
Submissions formally closed on June 5 but people can still hand in submissions at the remaining Meet The Panel forums around the country.
The panel will continue to meet interested individuals and groups through until August and those views and ideas will influence the final report.