Next week's Budget will present very differently to the ones that went before it. Napier MP Stuart Nash explains why.
In politics, words matter. In economics, numbers matter. But what matters when the two come together in the biggest event on Parliament's calendar, the annual Budget?
When politics and economics come together, people matter.
So far so good, no arguments there. But get behind words, and get behind numbers, and how does a government actually decide what to invest in? How does it measure the outcome, and how does it define success?
Our Budget will be delivered next week, on May 30. This year, for the first time ever, it will look very different to every other Budget. It will be framed around one purpose: the country's wellbeing. This is my beginners' guide to the Wellbeing Budget.
The first ever Wellbeing Budget will tell a story about what our priorities are. It will explain how government funding decisions are designed to meet long-term goals, especially for the generations of children who come after us.
I can tell you already what our five big priorities are. They are helping regions and businesses transition to a new environmental future, where we must deal with the impact of climate change.
They include questions about the future of work in the digital age and the need to innovate and create new economic opportunities. The third priority is mental health for all people, especially those under 24 years. Another priority is to lift skills and opportunities for Māori and Pasifika workers, often the lowest paid in the economy.
And finally, we have a priority to reduce child poverty and deal with family violence and sexual violence.
The 'wellbeing' approach is illustrated by the way we are dealing with that last priority, family violence and sexual violence.
If we have a shared goal of making sure New Zealand is the best place in the world to be a child, how do we decide what to invest in?
As Minister of Police, I can reel off a long list of distressing statistics – the numbers – to explain the scale of the problem. Family harm investigations by police have increased by 68 per cent over 10 years. There were approximately 6300 sexual assault victims in the past year, an increase of almost 5 per cent.
The new crime of non-fatal strangulation, which only came into effect in December, has already resulted in 755 prosecutions. Almost 300,000 children are affected by violence every year.
We know it's a long-term challenge to break the cycle of family violence. We must make investment decisions from a number of angles. We must work to prevent harm in the first place. We must work to make sure victims have the help they need as soon as possible. And as a wider government, we must try harder to better co-ordinate the work that many different agencies do.
Just last week I joined the Prime Minister to announce the single biggest investment to address family and sexual violence will be made in next week's Budget. It will mean we can work to prevent harm, make sure victims have the support they need, and better co-ordinate the work we do as a government.
So how are we prioritising spending to prevent harm? We are investing in programmes for young people to help them understand healthy and safe relationships. Men at risk of using violence are helped to shift their behaviour. There will be new money to support parents who struggle and for alcohol and drug treatment services.
How are we investing to better respond to victims and survivors? We are investing in training for doctors and nurses at the frontline of treating victims and survivors.
There will be more funding for the new police system of video-recording victims' statements at the scene. Cases where evidence is given from a video statement are 77 per cent more likely to result in a guilty plea. They also reduce the trauma for victims of having to provide a formal statement sometime after the event.
How are we ensuring the whole-of-government response wraps around those who need it most, at the right time and in the right way?
There will be more support for 24/7 services to respond to crisis support for children and young people through Oranga Tamariki. There will be better support through the court system, emergency housing, counselling and mental health support.
Family violence and sexual violence have a profound effect on the safety of our children and on the health and wellbeing of the whole Hawke's Bay community. This joined up approach across government is for the long term benefit of the current and future generations. It's about our collective wellbeing.
* Stuart Nash is the MP for Napier