Innovation funding gives life to knowledge-sharing network

Media release

16 March 2021

The Government’s commitment to increase innovation and collaboration across mental wellbeing services in New Zealand has enabled the establishment of a knowledge-sharing network dedicated to helping the mental health and addiction system improve people’s wellbeing.

Today Health Minister, Andrew Little, officially launched Te Whāriki o te Ara Oranga, which has been funded through the Government’s substantial Budget 19 investment to support mental wellbeing.

Whāriki is a collaboration network designed to connect leaders and influencers across the mental wellbeing system and enable them to share innovation, resources and best practice.

Deputy Director-General, Mental Health and Addiction, Toni Gutschlag said Whāriki was an exciting development as expansion of new services ramps up across the country.

“New and expanded services are rolling out across New Zealand as the programme to increase access to, and choice of, mental health and addiction services progresses,” Ms Gutschlag said.

“Our ability to make a difference to people’s lives is boosted by hearing from individuals, whānau and communities about what works for them, and through individuals working on the ground coming up with innovative ways to meet people’s needs. The new frontline primary mental health and addiction services, for example, are being rolled out in a way that can be tailored to suit each community’s needs.

“Sharing experiences across different regions will help ensure we are learning what’s working well for people. That way we can continuously improve these new services so they can best support wellbeing.”

“We know innovation is happening, and we want to see these stories shared easily so people in other areas can learn about what’s working and replicate it so as to promote mental wellbeing in their communities.”

Te Pou, one of the national mental health and addiction workforce centres, was contracted to develop Whāriki and the online platform that will support it. Already, more than 200 people have signed up to use the network.

“This is a really strong, early indication of the desire to learn from each other and collaborate,” Ms Gutschlag said.

“We’re excited about the possibilities that exist with Whāriki and will be looking forward to hearing how it has been leveraged to improve services for people across New Zealand.”

Editor’s note: Whāriki is a way for people working in the sector to build relationships and share information about what is driving change in mental health and addiction services.

People can use it to join the national conversation on different initiatives. There will also be hui dedicated to some initiatives to drive further understanding about how they work. As the network develops, smaller sub-networks will be able to focus on specific interest areas. Read more on the Whāriki website.

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