Sarah's Southland Scoop - September 2015

Invercargill news
Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Southern DHB
The Southern District Health Board has, and continues to be, a concerning issue for me. Longstanding financial issues and organisational failures led to the appointment of a commissioner in June with a clear mandate to move southern into a sustainable financial position. People deserve a quality health system here in the South. Despite the unsettling time there are some positives to report. The DHB has an operating budget of $134 million more a year now than when National was elected and more people are receiving elective surgery – 11,039 in the past financial year compared to 8391 in 2007-08. Southland has 66 more fulltime equivalent doctors and 195 more FTE nurses in Southern since 2007-08. I am in contact with the commissioner and I look forward to her communicating her findings to the public shortly.

Family violence
The levels of family violence in New Zealand and Southland are unacceptable. This Government has opened up the discussion on the way the law prevents and responds to family violence to everybody. Family violence continues to be one of the country’s most significant social issues and more needs to be done to address it. We need to take a hard look at the way agencies work together and what improvements can be made to help break the cycle of violence. As part of this initiative, I hosted a public meeting on the review of family violence law. The meeting was held at the Stadium Southland Legends Lounge on September 14. It was clear from the sector representatives and the public who attended that they agree changes to the law are needed. It was particularly interesting hearing their views on protection orders, the low number of incidents reported to police, the definition of domestic violence and prosecutions, among others. I will now pass the attendees comments on to the Minister of Justice. Laws alone won’t solve this problem, but they are the cornerstone we can build on.

Flat Hill Wind Farm
It was an honour to officially open the 19th wind farm in the country recently. The Flat Hill Wind Farm near Bluff will help create jobs and opportunities for people in Southland, utilise a fantastic renewable natural resource – the wind – and help us move towards a low-carbon future. It’s about time our unpredictable Southland weather was an advantage! With an average of 98 windy days a year, the Invercargill region is New Zealand’s second windiest place after Wellington. I wish the Southern Generation Partnership (PowerNet & Pioneer Generation) all the very best for the future of this project.

Youth Parliament
On Friday, 25 September, I had great please in announcing the five finalists for  Invercargill electorate’s Youth MP. Well done Keiren Perkins of Verdon College, Callum Findlater of Central Southland College, Caitlin Boyle of Southland Girls High School, and Blair Duthie of Verdon College. The calibre of the five and all the other entrants shows the young people of the electorate are passionate about the place they live, work and play, which is exciting as they’re the next generation of leaders in our community. To find the winner the finalists will deliver a speech and pitch a policy at the Ascot Park Hotel at 7pm on Friday 9 October.

$120k available for young social entrepreneurs
I am encouraging young Southlanders with bright ideas to apply for a share of the $120,000 Opportunity for Young People fund. It’ll be awarded to youth with clever and achievable ideas that will make a social or environmental difference. Southland’s young people are full of initiative. I witnessed this after judging the BP Business Challenge in May here in Southland and I was so impressed by the entries, the contestants’ imagination and creativity. The applicant must be aged 12-24 and have a social enterprise idea they want to make a reality. Interest for this round of funding must be registered by October 20, 2015. Please email your name, contact details and a brief description of your enterprise project or idea to

It's an honour to represent you in Parliament. If you need help with any issues, or if you'd like to share your views and thoughts with me, don't hesitate to contact me.