Watch: Jacinda Ardern announces major government inquiry into mental health and addiction services - 'Too many still have unhappy stories to tell'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the government will be undertaking a ministerial inquiry aimed at improving New Zealand's mental health and addiction services.

Addresing media from Wellington today Ms Ardern said the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction will be chaired by former Health and Disability Commissioner, Professor Ron Paterson, and will report back to the government by the end of October, 2018.

It's one of Labour's pledges in its 100 day plan, and the Prime Minister says it's deliberately broad. Source: 1 NEWS

"Mental health and addiction are issues for all New Zealanders," says Ms Ardern.

"Most of us will know a friend or whanau member that has faced a mental health challenge in their lives. Plenty have reached out and received the support required, but too many still have unhappy stories to tell."

In a statement released today Ms Ardern admitted that services are stretched to the limit when it comes to mental health services.

"We know that services are stretched. Demand has grown rapidly in recent years. In 2016/17 more than 170,000 people used mental health and addiction services – that's up by 71 per cent on a decade earlier.

"We want to hear from service users, the wider community and the mental health sector about their experience and expectations. Improving our mental health is something we can all play a part in."

The Prime Minister says the country needs fresh thinking when it comes to mental health and how we deal with the issue.

"Nothing is off the table. We all know we have a problem with mental health in this country and our suicide rate is shameful. It is well past time for us to do something about it.

"We should not pretend that this will be easy, but the Government is committed to taking action to improve the lives of people living with mental health issues," says Prime Minister Ardern.

 

Jacinda Ardern announces government inquiry in mental health and addiction services Source: 1 NEWS



Complaints flood in about landlords exploiting student allowance increase by raising rents

Complaints have been pouring into Minister of Finance Grant Robertson's email inbox after he made a post on Facebook asking for Wellington students to let him know if their landlords were exploiting them after the $50 student allowance raise.

The post generated a raft of complaints from students saying their rent had gone up immediately after the allowance increase, with Mr Robertson receiving 100 complaints since his post on Friday according to the NZ Herald.

There have also been nearly 400 comments from users on the post which read in part: "There is no excuse for landlords exploiting the situation. My office is getting stories of $50 per week increases on the basis that student allowances and living cost payments have gone up by that much.

"Let me know if this has happened to you. Landlords will increase rents from time to time but it needs to be fair and reasonable. Let’s expose those who are exploiting you and your friends."

Facebook user Nicki Eldridge commented on Mr Robertson's post saying: "Just got my rent put up $80 a week and the landlord terminated my rental agreement to do it.

"No option to negotiate on my part 😢. I've been a great tenant for 6 years."

Victoria University Wellington Students Association President Marlon Drake, told TVNZ1's Breakfast today that many property owners are "taking advantage" of students.

Prospective tenants are now being asked "how much are you willing to pay", Mr Drake said, effectively "putting all the power in the hands of the landlords", allowing them to tender the process.

"There are students who still don't have a place to stay when the trimester starts," Mr Drake said.

The lack of accommodation is leading to increasing stress for students, which has the potential to affect their studies.

"The academic pressures are already quite high and just trying to find a place to lay your head is really difficult," Mr Drake said.

"Students are being particularly hard hit because they are having to compete with young professionals and families who are really quite experienced in the rental market."

Mr Drake said a good solution would be the development of more accommodation in the form of student villages.

Marlon Drake says flat viewings are now attracting hundreds of students, with landlords taking advantage of the demand. Source: Breakfast

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'Brutal learning curve' - convicted Rene Naufahu 'relieved' indecent assault prosecution over

Former Shortland Street star Rene Naufahu is "relieved" that his trial for the indecent assault of women in his acting classes is now over, saying "we can all move forward now and heal".

Earlier today the 47-year-old actor was sentenced to one year of home detention for six counts of indecent assault.

Judge Judge Ronayne says this was "intimate sexual offending" and that he "groomed" his victims.

In a statement released to the NZ Herald after his sentencing Naufahu called his prosecution a "brutal learning curve".

"To say that this prosecution has been a brutal learning curve, one that has caused me to assess my past professional and personal conduct, would be an understatement.

"But I now realise that my behaviour at that time wasn't always professional and appropriate, even though then I thought it was," part of his statement read.

He went on to say that he accepts he abused his role as acting coach and at times "blurred the lines" between the personal and professional in his acting classes.

"None of us are perfect and there's always room for growth. I have made mistakes and I have learnt from them."

The statement concludes with Naufahu thanking those who supported him during the trial.
 

The former Shortland St actor was sentenced over six counts of indecent assault. Source: 1 NEWS