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Coalition for Community, Voluntary Issues Launched

24 July 2005
For Immediate Release

COMVOICES: Independent Coalition To Promote Community And Voluntary Issues Launched

COMVOICES, an independent coalition of Tangata Whenua and leading community and voluntary organisations (the Sector), was today launched to promote the voluntary sector and the contribution it makes to New Zealand society.

Funding Information Service general manager Andrea Goble said the group was set up to advance common issues for the Sector, which reflects the full diversity of New Zealand society.

“Currently there is no coordinated advocacy or communication on issues of relevance across the entire Sector. This leads to fragmented messages and individual groups and their personnel can be restrained in speaking out by the need to protect their funding sources.

“The community and voluntary sector organisations and Tangata Whenua make an enormous contribution to all sections of New Zealand society including arts, culture and heritage; sport and recreation; environment and conservation; education and employment; faith communities; social services and housing; law, advocacy and human rights; philanthropy; international development; health, disability; professional associations; Pacific and other ethnic communities.”

Statistics New Zealand figures from 2002 show that New Zealanders aged 15 years and over spent 536 million hours on unpaid work outside the home in 1999. The estimated value of this work was just over $5 billion a year, equivalent to over five percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Iris Pahau, Community Sector Taskforce Development Manager, said every New Zealander had a vested interest in the health of the Sector.

“Community and voluntary sector organisations and Tangata Whenua encompass everything from the larger social services and advocacy organisations, to community organisations like play centres and kohanga reo, advisory organisations, like Citizens Advice Bureaux, cultural organisations such as Te Matatini, as well as local sport and recreation clubs.

“Every New Zealander is touched by the Sector. It is there for our communities, by our communities,” she said.

Executive Director of the New Zealand Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations, Tina Reid, said COMVOICES would be seeking to highlight common issues, such as funding and sustainability, as well as the independence of the Sector, with politicians in the run up to the election.

“We are keen for all political parties to be fully aware of the issues that face the sector as they enter a new parliamentary term. The Sector has many different voices and opinions – but we also have a lot of common issues and a common purpose that need to be highlighted.

“COMVOICES in no way diminishes any one perspective in the Sector. It is a collaborative voice. Individual organisations will continue to communicate views and issues specific to them,” she said.

The coalition aims to ensure that the Sector will have a powerful voice in the community and at government level by:

- Reflecting and spearheading Sector-wide responses on relevant issues and polices.

- Working with and leveraging from, the work that the Community Sector Taskforce is already doing to encourage regional, national and cross-sector networking and information sharing.

COMVOICES was founded by the following voluntary sector organisations:

- New Zealand Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations

- Funding Information Service

- Healthcare Aotearoa

- Community Sector Taskforce

- Association of Non-Governmental Organisations of Aotearoa (ANGOA)

- Philanthropy New Zealand

- New Zealand Council of Social Services


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