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Building Trust And Respect - Speech Steve Maharey

4 December 2001

Speech Notes - Hon S Maharey

Building trust and respect between the Government and the third sector

Comments at the signing of the Statement of Government Intentions for an Improved Community - Government Relationship. Government Caucus Room, Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

Introduction

Today represents a milestone in the community - government relationship - the signing of the Statement of Government Intentions for an Improved Community - Government Relationship.

In 1999, the newly elected Labour-Alliance government heard from the community sector that its relationship with government was under strain. The community sector said its role and work had not, over recent years, been recognised or valued by government.

Because we do value the contribution of community, voluntary and iwi/Maori organisations to New Zealand society, we established the Community and Voluntary Sector Working Party to investigate the relationship issues further.

The Working Party reported in April 2001.

Among its recommendations was that government must show its commitment to a new way of working with the sector. A formal statement of government intentions was suggested as a way of communicating this resolve.

Government agreed with the Working Party that the time is not yet right for a formal two-way agreement between government and the community sector. The statement is an important step along the way.

The Statement of Government Intentions for an Improved Community - Government Relationship

Today, we have gathered as representatives of community and government to mark the signing of the Statement of Government Intentions for an Improved Community - Government Relationship.

The Statement provides the opportunity to set clear objectives for government agencies in restoring an improved relationship with the community sector.

Implementing the Statement will bring positive changes in the relationship between government agencies and community, voluntary and iwi/Maori organisations.

The Statement's commitments translate into very practical actions government officials can take to improve the working relationship between community and government.

These include:

· Breaking down the 'silos' government agencies tend to operate in. Ensuring government services are co-ordinated and that common-sense solutions are found for people regardless of traditional agency responsibilities.

· Improving the way government engages communities in policy and decision-making so the knowledge, wisdom and practical experience of the community sector contributes fully to policy decisions.

· Streamlining government funding arrangements for community organisations. The community sector finds government processes overly complex. A lot of work is required for funding applications and accountability reports. Community organisations feel this distracts them from their 'real' work of helping people.

The Statement also supports the work of the Community - Government Relationship Steering Group established in September to work on the Government's response to the Working Party's report.

Chaired by Dorothy Wilson, the Steering Group is leading work in three priority areas:

· Improving participatory processes around developing and making policy · Reviewing resourcing and accountability arrangements · Strengthening the community sector itself.

This important relationship building work is intended to help achieve the visions of strong and respectful relationships between community, voluntary and iwi/Maori organisations.

I would now like to hand over to the Prime Minister, Helen Clark.

ENDS


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