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Improved Community - Govt Relationship - Clark

4 December 2001

Speech Notes - Rt Hon H Clark

Statement of Government Intentions for an Improved Community - Government Relationship

Welcome to everyone gathered here to witness the beginning of a journey towards a more co-operative, trust-based relationship between government and the community sector.

Steve Maharey has talked briefly about why we are here today. Over the past decade the community sector found itself taking on an ever-increasing workload. Often it seemed the way in which government agencies treated community organisations failed to value their contribution.

That left many feeling mistrustful of government, undervalued, and disempowered.

In 1999, the Labour-Alliance government was elected with a commitment to restore New Zealanders' trust in government and its institutions.

The community - government relationship building work is one of ways of restoring that trust. The Statement of Government Intentions for an Improved Community - Government Relationship sets the direction for working with communities.

There have already been a number of relevant initiatives. For example:

· In this year's Budget, government showed its commitment to the community and voluntary sector with a $31 million funding package. This funding gave many community social service organisations their first significant baseline increase in five years.

· Social entrepreneurs are innovative people who work to alleviate disadvantage and empower communities. Government is putting in over $1.8 million this year to fund social entrepreneurs throughout the country working in fields like community employment and development, keeping young people safe in our communities, and building community infrastructure and facilities.

· A huge commitment has been made to capacity building initiatives in Maoridom and in Pacific Island communities to support those communities developing and implementing strategies to meet their needs.

· The International Year of the Volunteer is coming to its close this week. Government has supported volunteering through funding for established volunteer centres around New Zealand and to enable a Volunteering New Zealand network to be established.

· The Lottery Grants Board has made significant contributions to the International Year of Volunteers. Most recently, over $200,000 has been awarded to voluntary groups around the country. The Board has contributed around $750,000 since November 1999, to assist community groups with their plans to celebrate the International Year of Volunteers. The latest grants are for training of volunteers and the promotion of volunteer opportunities.

· The review of the Local Government Act has resulted in provision to involve communities more effectively in local planning.

· Through the establishment of District Health Boards government has ensured an open door for community involvement in decision-making on health matters.

These initiatives and many others provide opportunities for community organisations to engage with central and local government. The Statement of Government Intentions for an Improved Community - Government Relationship will create the environment for genuine partnerships.

ENDS


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