Last week a journalist called me and asked me "What is your wish list for the Wellbeing Budget?"
My answer was we need to measure success with the currency of mana and not money, a standard reply as many readers of this column for the last decade and a half will already know.
My wish list was all about doing things differently and looking after those who look after those who need looking after the most, the lost, the lonely, the desperate and the disconnected.
Around about the same time last week, the Prime Minister attended the World Economic Forum at Davos and she was also questioned about her wish list for the Wellbeing Budget.
"With this Budget, we're doing things differently.
"We don't think you can measure the success of a country through dollars and cents alone.
"Alongside GDP, we will measure ourselves against five key priorities that will make real improvements to the lives of New Zealanders. We've used evidence to identify the five areas we can make the greatest difference:"
• Boosting innovation
• Creating opportunities
• Backing Māori & Pasifika
• Supporting Mental Health
• Improving Child Wellbeing
Prime Minister Adern further commented, "If you're a minister and you want to spend money, you have to prove that you're going to improve intergenerational wellbeing."
Amen to that, Prime Minister.
"It's an approach led by kindness and compassion – and it's simply the right thing to do," she added.
Totally tautoko that as well.
Clever woman, our PM, and she gets it about moving resources innovatively to the front line where those who are fighting for the lost, the lonely, the desperate and the disconnected need it most.
Sure, there is the same old bucket list that all of the interviewees replied to: Mental health, addiction, social housing, more cohesion within council and civic leaders and less congestion of our arterial roadways leading into the heart of our city.
These are givens and shared by us all.
My wish list was a little left of field – (surprise surprise).
How about looking after those who look after all of those who need help most?
If we don't keep our front line of support workers adequately resourced, they simply burn out and can become exactly who they have been trying to help.
These people are often overlooked as just social workers, replaceable in a heartbeat by an army of fresh-faced students studying at a local polytech or university.
The reality is these front line workers carry arsenals of experience with them into traumatic challenges every day.
It is a highly specialised area of expertise and good ones are worth gold, none more so than those who have been there and done that and know their clients on a first name basis.
What we do well that brings the best results for our clients and to the community who we try and weave together is being a filter for whānau who have disconnected from their families, their community, and in many cases their culture, but most important - they have disconnected from themselves.
There is an art to reconnecting the lost and for us the art of applying whakawhanangatanga (wrap around services) is how we best get the best out of those who have been flying solo and holding on to a parachute of self-medication - mostly in whatever is instantly available.
Alcohol, synthetics, meth and then marijuana, pretty much in that order, is the menu for those who can't seem to find a pathway forward through the dark cloud of desperation.
Turns out we are not the only ones thinking this way as indicated by our PM and New Zealander of the Year Mike King.
Mike King has come to the same conclusion in his cutting-edge approach to youth suicide.
His Gumboot Friday was all about finding funds to make it possible for at risk youth who are flying solo and at an alarmingly increasing rate are drowning in a sea of self-doubt.
Not having any one-on-one support to help reconnect them back to whānau, family, their culture, each other and again most importantly themselves is a very similar theme to what we are facing within the mental health and addiction challenges many of our clients are facing.
The pathway to recovery in my opinion is reconnecting the lost, the lonely and those living in absolute desperation and self-doubt.
We do this by firstly offering hope in the form of awhi - or one-on-one support.
For this to happen we need those who are working one-on-one with these young and old lost souls at the front line to be resourced adequately.
The challenge is to look after these front line workers while at the same time making sure the new Wellbeing Budget the Government announced yesterday reaches the front line where they are needed most, and is not syphoned off to pseudo organisations who have held the keys to the government coffers for far too long.
Tommy Kapai Wilson is a local writer and best selling author. He first started working for the Bay of Plenty Times as a paperboy in 1966 and has been a columnist for 15 years. Tommy is currently the executive director of Te Tuinga Wha¯nau, a social service agency committed to the needs of our community. firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to get help:
Lifeline : 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline : 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline : 0800 376 633
Kidsline : 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup : 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline : 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.