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Tariana Turia: Quality Service Quality Communities

Tariana Turia: Quality Service, Quality Communities

Quality service, quality communities

E nga mana, e nga reo o tenei rohe, tena koutou.
E nga iwi e huihui nei i tenei ra, tena koutou.


Thank you for the invitation to join with you today - International Volunteer Day.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed International Volunteer Day in 1985. Every 5th of December since then, the UN Volunteers programme, and its civil society partners, have joined with volunteers around the world to celebrate. Activities are happening today in Lebanon, Senegal, Australia, New Zealand and Angola, to name a few.

We are probably the first people in the world to celebrate International Volunteer Day, with the launch of the new Community and Voluntary Sector Standards in the Te Wana programme.

This package sets a standard for quality organisations that will carry on the good work of developing our communities and volunteers.

It is a great pleasure to support the Te Wana quality programme, which is offered by Health Care Aotearoa to 'not-for-profit' community organisations.

Before doing that, however, I want to pay a special tribute to all the people who give their time to serve others and the work being done to improve relationships between the government and community.

There is a strong link between service and community - the gift of love and care is part of the glue that binds communities together.

The late Mother Teresa once said: "There should be less preaching - preaching does not unite us. What unites us is working together for the mutual benefit."

I think this thought captures the essence and the values voluntarism, which not only accomplish concrete achievements, but also give people a feeling of belonging and a feeling of being valuable.

In our present hectic cyber-age, the nearly invisible voluntary work within societies is becoming more and more valuable and essential.

This government has worked to improve relations with the community and voluntary sector, to the point where I launched the new Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector. Many of you were involved in this process.

We have recognised that volunteers do valuable work, by providing occupational safety and health protections for volunteers, and a guide for voluntary groups on how to keep workplaces safe. We are also working on policy around risk management, liability, and insurance.

I am particularly pleased to have a chance to share with you some thoughts on the issue of developing community organisations, and I would like to reflect on the early beginnings of Te Wana.

Te Wana is a set of standards for community groups to use for quality assurance of their organisation. The package was developed after a challenge by me in the mid 90's, for the community to set quality standards for their organisations. Health Care Aotearoa picked up the challenge and, by November 2000, had developed the programme and completed the pilot.

Since its launch, about 40 groups have joined Te Wana. These range from national organisations to local groups, including iwi and marae social and health services. They use Te Wana to assess their infrastructure and activities against quality standards over a three-year cycle. In July 2003, Newtown Union Health Service became the first participant in Te Wana Quality Programme to be accredited by the Quality Improvement Council.

On 8 October 2003, Ngati Ruanui Hauora was recognised as the first tangata whenua health service to gain accreditation with the Quality Improvement Council through Te Wana. Ngati Ruanui Hauora was one of the six groups that piloted the draft Te Wana quality standards.

Te Wana is proving valuable, not just as a framework for assessment against standards, but also as an educational tool about Te Tiriti O Waitangi, and community development. Te Tiriti is assessed either from a tangata whenua or tauiwi perspective depending on the organisation.

The highlight of Te Wana is that it is community driven. Government did not dictate a need for the standards, it came from the grass roots. The grass roots are also involved in the review and evaluation of groups using or wishing to use the standards.

Later we will hear from representatives from groups already on the Te Wana programme like Ora Toa, Pacific Health Porirua and Porirua Health Union. They will be sharing their experiences about Te Wana.

I am aware of the core standards from my experience working in community groups, and I know groups need to build on what they currently have.

The Community and Voluntary Sector standards cover:

Advocacy, Research, External Education, Training and Promotions, Volunteers, Telephone Helplines and Websites Fundraising.

These standards are about strengthening groups and making improvements. They are not about compliance or audit!

I recently met with Te Wana Directors and I applaud the new standards and recognise the role they might play in the sector.

A clear set of standards could create confidence in the organisation among those who deal with it - such as clients, partners, funders or contractors.

The number of audits and other compliance obligations linked to government contracts and registrations is an unwieldy and costly burden for community based groups.

The government is working to resolve this, and one venture, called the Circuit Breaker Project, is to develop a one audit/one approval process.

It is no easy task getting a number of different government agencies to agree on a common set of parameters for contracting with community groups.

By adopting a sound set of standards, community groups might support these efforts to streamline accountability procedures, by giving official agencies more confidence in the integrity of their organisations. In other words, standards can help to build trust.

Trust builds up through the functioning of open and effective networks. The mutual trust created by networks and co-operation helps to create a more inclusive society.

This is a priority for this government. We are keen to work in partnership with community organisations, because we recognise that community and voluntary groups are trusted in ways that the government never will be.

Because of that trust, community organisations can achieve results and bring about social changes official agencies could never emulate, despite their power and resources.

For tangata whenua we know that results are best where indigenous people are able to determine their own way forward and set their own priorities. This government encourages local solutions at local levels.

We all have a responsibility to build more cohesive communities in which the blight of social exclusion and alienation will be minimised.

How to address these issues is our challenge. Yours, and mine.

So, in closing, I congratulate Health Care Aotearoa for a job well done and the organisers of this conference for allowing the ongoing development of skills and services that you deliver so passionately to your communities.

Na reira, huri noa, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatau katoa.

ENDS


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