While life for many in Canterbury is improving, the impacts of the quakes are still being felt as the region's recovery heads into its seventh year.
These are the findings from the latest Canterbury Wellbeing Survey and Canterbury Wellbeing Index. The Survey and Index were established by CERA to help track the progress of the social recovery of Canterbury post-quake. This is the first time they have been released since the Canterbury DHB inherited the monitoring of psychosocial recovery on 1st March 2016.
Canterbury DHB chief executive David Meates, says the Canterbury Wellbeing Survey shows continued improvements in wellbeing across many of the measures.
Eighty-two percent, or four out of five greater Christchurch residents, say their quality of life is good or extremely good, up from 77 percent last year. Another measure of wellbeing, the WHO-5 Wellbeing Index, has also improved significantly since September 2015. "Overall, fewer respondents reported being negatively impacted by the stressors caused by the earthquakes," he says.
Mr Meates says the positive impact of seeing signs of progress towards a more livable city, and being able to access new and repaired recreational, cultural and leisure time facilities, are at their highest levels since they were first measured. "New spaces like the Margaret Mahy Playground are proving incredibly popular, and providing a real wellbeing boost. Making progress towards a more livable city is having a positive impact for many," he says.
Although the majority of indicators suggest an improvement in wellbeing, a number of Cantabrians are still struggling with earthquake-related stressors. "The proportion of people experiencing anxiety about ongoing aftershocks was at its highest level since September 2012, doubling from nine percent last year to 18 per cent this year," he says. "This increase is likely to be explained by the fact that the survey took place in April, just two months after the Valentine's Day quake."
Mr Meates says the Canterbury Wellbeing Index shows that there's increasing demand on Canterbury's mental health services. There has been a 21% increase in the number of 18-64 year old clients accessing mental health services from the 12 months prior to the February earthquake to the most recent 12 months of data (April 2015 – March 2016).
Mr Meates says six years on, some Cantabrians still face significant hurdles to their recovery. "For many, time does heal, but international research tells us that the emotional effects of a disaster can last for up to ten years. The focus of the recovery is now on identifying those at risk of being left behind and ensuring they get the support they need," says Mr Meates.
Those who are finding it hard and need support can ring the Canterbury Support Line on 0800 777 846.
While unemployment in Canterbury continues to be low at around 3.1 percent, economic growth is beginning to slow down following the initial impetus of the rebuild. Canterbury GDP growth was amongst the lowest across New Zealand in 2015, easing back to 1.9 percent growth from 5.8 percent growth in the year to December 2014.
After a period of rapid growth, rent levels for new tenancies in greater Christchurch have decreased since early 2015, and are once again below Wellington and national levels.
Forty-three percent of the 630 people surveyed who own the dwelling they usually live in, and who have had their insurance claim resolved, were concerned about the quality of repairs or believe re-repairs are required.
The Canterbury Wellbeing Survey is a representative sample of greater Christchurch residents undertaken every six months. In 2016 there were 3,100 respondents. Read the full findings from the Canterbury Wellbeing Survey.
The Canterbury Wellbeing Index is a set of measures or indicators from over twenty local and national agencies across a diverse range of fields including health, education, housing, and employment. Find out more about the Canterbury Wellbeing Index.
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