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Community research left out in cold?

Community research left out in cold?

Community-based social research continues to miss out on vital funding, despite Government pledges to foster a strong relationship with community groups, said Green MP Sue Bradford.

Social Services Minister Steve Maharey has announced a project to link tertiary sector researchers with policy makers through an $8.6m initiative in this year's budget.

The Green Party spokesperson for the Community and Voluntary Sector said she welcomed the decision but was dismayed that community based researchers have not, so far been considered.

"Some of this money clearly should be allocated to quality community-based research," said Ms Bradford.

"This is a much neglected part of the New Zealand social policy landscape even though some of the best quality material overseas comes from research projects run by genuine grassroots organisations.

"The Government talks all the time about the importance of the community sector and a strong relationship between community and Government, so why do they put all this research funding into the tertiary sector?"

Ms Bradford said some of the funding that currently supports an estimated 350 policy analysts at the Ministry of Social Development could be better spent in support of ground-level research.

"One of the best forms of evidence is that which is gained from quality studies or organisational practise on the ground, not the ever-increasing numbers of studies of academic literature.

"We need social policy based on the reality and practice of delivering health, welfare, employment, training, housing and other services in New Zealand - not more and more esoteric and theoretical studies that have little relevance in real life experience.

Ms Bradford asked a supplementary question in Parliament today, which was met by a disappointing response.

"The minister's response to my question in the house only confirms Mr Maharey's apparent complete disregard for the potential of community based research to help us address serious social questions in this country."

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