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CEG becomes WOG - but where's the 'community'?

12 August, 2004

CEG becomes WOG - but where's the 'community'?

Green MP Sue Bradford revealed in Parliament today the Government's intentions to disband the Community Employment Group (CEG) and partially replace it with the inappropriately named Work Opportunities Group - WOG for short.

Ms Bradford, the Green Party's Community Economic Development spokesperson, said that a paper is expected to go to Cabinet soon that proposed a major restructuring of the group, including the name change to WOG. She said the lack of community and voluntary sector consultation for the paper was disgraceful.

"The Government looks set to take a wrecking ball to the CEG without any regard for the people who work in the sector, the organisation's own staff or for any of the progress they have made," said Ms Bradford.

"The fact that the Government could consider WOG as a title shows how out of touch it is with the community sector. This is a very unfortunate name considering the nature of the disadvantaged communities that WOG would be working with."

Ms Bradford agreed that the CEG has been beset by problems - many originating from its shift to WINZ under Christine Rankin in the 90s - but questioned the good that could be achieved by completely dismantling the group without the input of its staff and the community economic sector.

"I urge the Government not to throw the baby out with the bathwater," she said. "Sure, there have been mistakes that have undermined the good work achieved by CEG but there's also 15 years of knowledge and experience that should be included in moving forward.

"The role of CEG in supporting entrepreneurial social enterprise and genuine community development is as important now as it ever was. It's essential that the community economic function isn't lost and that there is a viable government agency to work in an enabling way with the community sector to achieve its full potential.

"The CEG has seen the development of the successes like Kaikoura Whale Watch, the Buller Community Development Company, the Kaitaia Community Business and Environment Centre and a large number of iwi and pan-tribal organisations that have lifted the well-being and prospects of communities and unemployed people.

"The government must reconsider the path it has initiated with the paper set to go before Cabinet.

"The way forward is by learning from CEG's mistakes, drawing from its 15 years of experience delivering positive outcomes for communities and by including the community sector in developing a blueprint for future community economic development," she said.


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