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Health and disability work trials begin

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/10/2016

An overweight, heavy drinker with a 13-year prison stint and history of depression is already becoming more positive and putting together his CV as part of a programme to help patients with long-term health conditions and disabilities transition to work.

The man is part of a volunteer trial being rolled out across the Canterbury, Northland, Waikato and Waitemata District Health Boards to break the pattern of welfare.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says it's important that Kiwis with complex or long-term health issues or disabilities were supported to reach their goals.

"For many, having the fulfilment of being in appropriate paid work is one of those goals," he said.

The first trial of the three-month programme is underway in Waikato, where living well coaches are working with up to 30 participants who have been receiving benefits for between six months and three years.

Waikato DHB's rehabilitation director Barbara Garbutt said a job gave people confidence and independence for those who feel isolated or worthless.

"Getting back to work gives them a sense of achievement which is emotionally rewarding and fulfilling," she said.

Planning is underway for two more trials, while another three are being developed.

The University of Auckland is also involved in the project, analysing anonymous data to identify people who would benefit from the support.

The trial is part of the $9 million Oranga Mahi programme aimed at breaking the pattern of welfare to help reach the Better Public Services target of reducing the number of people on benefits by 25 per cent by June 2018.

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