Mike King says Gumboot Friday won't be applying for Government's Mental Wellbeing Innovation Fund

Mike King says Gumboot Friday won't be applying for any of the Government's new $1.2 million Mental Wellbeing Innovation Fund, saying it is "mischievous" to suggest they might be. 

The new pilot fund was announced by Health Minister Andrew Little on Friday as part of the Budget 2019's $1.9 billion wellbeing investment.

"The $1.2-million Mental Wellbeing Innovation Fund pilot project is for one-off defined proposals that could contribute to improving mental wellbeing, including initiatives that focus on reducing suicidal distress or behaviour," Little said at the launch. 

Little said the Ministry of Health received a number of requests for funding from non-Government organisations, iwi and other groups to support mental wellbeing initiatives that didn't fit into existing tenders. This new fund was a way of looking to support those ventures. 

"Some of these proposals have merit and could contribute positively to the needs identified in He Ara Oranga: the Report of The Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, but are outside the scope of the planned procurements.

"A small number of organisations will be invited by the Ministry of Health to provide proposals and participate in a closed selective tender," Little said.

King told Newshub while he thought it was a good idea, Gumboot Friday would not be one of those organisations.

"I think it is a wonderful idea for anyone who has got a start-up business, any student out there who has an idea to help the mental health crisis, it is a great idea. 

"We are not a start-up, $1.2 million is the total fund and we need $4 million just to get through the end of the year. 

"This is a fund for start-ups, we are not a start-up. I think it would be fraudulent for Gumboot Friday to apply for this."

King said this did not fall under one of the "innovative ways" Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government was looking at to help Gumboot Friday. 

Ardern told the AM Show on Monday the Government was looking at "innovative ways" to fund Gumboot Friday but would let the Ministry of Health officials do their jobs to find a resolution.

"They've been back-and-forth in contact with Gumboot Friday since 2019 - they've been fairly open when there have been issues around their funding," Ardern told the AM Show.

King told Newshub it was mischievous to suggest some of this funding would go to Gumboot Friday. 

"When she [Jacinda Ardern] signalled on the AM Show there were some innovative ideas around funding of Gumboot Friday, if this is it, again at worst it is mischievous at best it is verging on fibs. 

"The NZ public is not stupid and this Government really needs to step up." 

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