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Steve Maharey: Investing In Communities

Hon Steve Maharey Speech Notes

Investing in communities

Address to the Department of Labour Community Business Workshop. Brentwood Hotel, Kilbirnie.

Introduction

The Government and community sector share common aims – making New Zealand communities better places to live, building strong and safe communities, -communities where there are real jobs for everyone that wants them

Investment in the growth of community based employment opportunities is a key element of the government’s employment strategy. We believe that communities are an important source of sustainable solutions to employment problems, particularly in depressed regions and within Mäori and Pacific communities.

The Government has invested and achieved much in the area of community development:

 We have returned the Community Employment Group to Department of Labour and restored its capacity

 We have invested in building the capacity of communities - we have introduced a number of programmes that focus on increasing the capacity of community groups. New funding worth $42 million over four years will be invested in Mäori and Pacific people’s community organisations to improve their capacity to promote economic and employment activity.

 We have been exploring Government’s relationship with the Community and Voluntary sector – last year we established a working party who have raised a number of key issues that we will work through over the next year.

 We have developed an exciting new relationship with the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, and we have codified that relationship in an agreed Memorandum of Understanding between the Government the Mayors Taskforce. The Memorandum details the commitment of the Mayors taskforce to two goals

(Goal 1: By 2005, no young person under 25 years will be out of work or training in our communities; Goal 2: By 2009, all people in our communities will have the opportunity to be in work or training).

Central government shares many of the aims of the Taskforce – zero waste of people, reducing long term unemployment, reducing polarisation that is increasingly characterising New Zealand society, the importance of co-ordination and collaboration to address complex social problems and finding local solutions to local problems. We will work in partnership with the Mayors.

Community Employment Organisations (CEOs)

 And the Government is backing social and community enterprises. The Government has allocated $8.5 million over three years to pilot the Community Employment Organisations (CEOs) programme.

CEOs provides assistance to community groups to allow them to develop enterprises and employ unemployed people within their communities.

CEOs is a mix of advisory support and financial assistance from CEG and wage subsidies from DWI. Subsidised employment with a CEO is a stepping stone to employment in the wider economy. Those placed will gain valuable employment experience and CEOs will assist in overcoming barriers to employment.

I am delighted that this meeting today has provided an opportunity for formally launch the new initiative.

As I noted in the Parliament yesterday, 6 CEOs are currently in place with a further 6 proposals being assessed. A further 35 proposals are currently being developed with CEG field advisers.

I cited two examples yesterday:

* He Iwi Kotahi Tatou Trust, based in Moerewa, has secured a contract to install a range of energy efficiency and moisture prevention measures into 200 low income households in the district. The Trust has further plans to become involved in waste management and to use their community owned Computer Centre to develop a Web Page design business.

* Approach Employment and Training in Dunedin is generating employment and skills development through the provision of lunches to low decile primary schools, and niche catering.

The Community business sector

I have a strong interest in helping to expand the community business sector. Some commentators have suggested that the ‘third sector’ will be a major source of employment. It maybe particularly important in rural areas and for small communities where there limited opportunities for economic activities.

Community businesses are based in local areas and are best placed to understand what goods and services the community needs. They often involve labour intensive processes (such as recycling and waste management) so generate many jobs. The jobs are specific to the location and keep people in communities. Overseas evidence also suggests that those working in community businesses find their jobs more satisfying than those working in the private sector do. Community businesses help to move communities to a greater level of self sufficiency - making communities stronger.

Many developed countries having thriving community businesses sectors, and this workshop is one step towards promoting and expanding New Zealand’s community business sector.

This workshop will inform the policy advice officials from the Department of Labour will provide my colleagues and me.

I wish you well in your workshops, brainstorms and discussions over the next two days.

Ends

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