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Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector

Hon Tariana Turia
15 September 2003 Speech Notes


Launch of Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector


E nga mana, e nga reo o tenei rohe, tena koutou.

E nga iwi e huihui nei i tenei ra, tena koutou katoa.

I want to warmly welcome all of you from the national bodies representing the many tangata whenua, community and voluntary organisations that exist in this country of ours.

I have travelled through the country, met local groups, and spoken at conferences. I’ve been invited to attend the launch of community initiatives – and I must say I am hugely impressed with the level of commitment that so many people make to the community and voluntary sector.

Around 23,000 societies and 10,000 charities operate in New Zealand. Over a million New Zealanders give unstintingly of themselves as volunteers – because they are moved by their hearts.

Those of you here today reflect the wonderful diversity of the sector –whanau and hapu, marae communities, Pacific nations, sport and recreation, health, social services, the environment, arts & heritage, faith communities, ethnic communities … a huge range.

I also want to welcome the people from government, the other half of the community government relationship. The range of government departments and agencies represented here also reflects the diversity of the sector, as all of you work with and alongside community organisations.

I would also like to acknowledge my parliamentary colleagues who are here with me today [Trevor Mallard, Tim Barnett, Moana Mackey, Sue Bradford (who won't be here until 5pm)].

Today we officially launch Te Tari o te Rangai a-Hapori, a-Tuao - the new Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector.

The establishment of this Office is a signal of the government’s commitment to the many thousands of people in our society who work tirelessly to make their communities better places in which to work and to enjoy life.

In our 2001 Manifesto the Labour Party made a commitment to setting up an office such as this. We saw the need to enhance the status of the community and voluntary sector within government and the wider world. We saw a dedicated Office as a way to do that.

I’d like to tell you about the origins of the logo.

It was designed by students from Toihoukura, Tairawhiti Polytechnic’s Visual Art and Design School. The students have provided the following explanation for their design: Ma te huruhuru, ka rere te manu. Feathers are widely recognised as a symbol to represent chiefliness. The two feathers in this logo represent the Government and the community and voluntary sector – the space between the feathers is now filled by Te Tari Mo te Rangai a-Hapori, a-Tuao.

One of the big agenda items for this government has been a determination to improve its relationship with community, voluntary and tangata whenua organisations. We have put a lot of energy and resources into making things work better, and to building greater harmony and stronger, healthier relationships.

In December 2001, the Prime Minister and Steve Maharey, as the former Minister Responsible for the Community and Voluntary Sector, signed a Statement of Government Intentions for an Improved Community-Government Relationship.

This Statement signalled this government’s clear intention to give a higher priority to working effectively with community organisations.

And in December 2002 we launched the Government Policy on Volunteering, with the intention of providing a basis for our relationships with volunteers.

As many of you will know, two new community-based and community-driven organisations have come out of the recent community-government relationship work. Te Wero and the Community Sector Taskforce are working separately on their own work programmes but joining forces to work collaboratively where appropriate.

I thank the members of both groups for their commitment and dedication to, as the Taskforce so succinctly states: “working toward a community and voluntary sector that is informed, connected and able to do its work”.

This new Office is a further expression of that focus. So what practical difference will this new Office make to your community organisations? Or to you as government officials?

I will begin by saying that the Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector faces quite a challenge in establishing an effective presence and it is likely that the full impact will not be felt immediately.

To start with, the Office will raise the profile of the community and voluntary sector within government. And that, as you will no doubt appreciate, can only be a good thing.

It will facilitate government policy affecting the community and voluntary sector across all official agencies. In fact, it will go beyond that and offer leadership within government.

It will be a point of contact for community, voluntary and tangata whenua organisations on issues that affect the sector as a whole.

The Director’s first job will be to discuss the sector’s concerns and priorities regarding the work of the Office. To that end, the Office will be looking to the sector for direction as to the best way to consult, and the best way to work in partnership – rather than setting the agenda for the sector.

The Director and Office staff will work hard to nurture those relationships – many of which already exist – and to ensure that the voice of the sector is heard and reflected in the Office’s work programme and the way it goes about its business.

The Office will also advise me as Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector.

One of the underlying principles of the Office will be active relationships, genuine consultation and partnerships with community organisations. To that end, Office staff will play a lead in working with other government agencies to develop relationship plans with the NGOs they work with.

As part of that work it is my pleasure today to engage in a mini-launch, or a launch within a launch. As part of its commitment to improving relationships with community organisations, MSD has developed a new online resource called “goodpracticeparticipate”.

[the website will be projected onto the wall behind the Minister as she is speaking]

This website will help public servants to engage successfully with community, voluntary, tangata whenua and Maori organisations when decisions are being made. It can be accessed by the public as well as government officials and I would encourage you all to visit it and see how it can add to your work.

This site will be dynamic, and content will be continually added and updated as our collective knowledge builds and develops. Your feedback, whether you are from a community organisation or a government agency, will be very welcome.

You have a leaflet with the website address in your programme of events.

Other items on the work programme of the Community and Voluntary Sector Office include:

- co-ordinating improvements to government funding arrangements – which I know is a big issue for many of you here
-
- addressing policy and other barriers to volunteering in government policy
-
- working with sector groups to develop better information and research about the community and voluntary sector.
-
We have just appointed an establishment Director – Sue Driver started work less than a week ago. Four staff from the Ministry of Social Development’s Community Policy Unit have moved into the Office’s new premises, in the West Block of the MSD campus in Bowen St. I’ll leave it to Tony Gavin [the MC] to introduce them to you in a moment. Over the next while, further staff, will be appointed to the Office.

Thank you all for taking time to attend this event today. I know you are very busy people and take your attendance as a sign of your interest in the work of the Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector. And thank you for your ongoing commitment to your communities. You are the lifeblood of so many communities and without you Aotearoa would be a very different place.


ENDS

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