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Govt’s “to-do list” will fail without community involvement

ComVoices Media Statement
For Immediate Release

25 June 2012

Government’s “to-do list” will fail without community involvement

The Government’s Better Public Services results targets released today will be unsuccessful if communities and the organisations that serve them are not involved in developing the action plans that underpin them, according to ComVoices, an independent network of Community and Voluntary sector organisations.

Dave Henderson, Co-ordinator at ANGOA, said for the results to actually work it would take all parts of the system to be involved – from the beginning.

“The Government’s aim of getting traction on some tough social issues is an excellent start, but success will be highly dependent on tapping into the wealth of on-the-ground knowledge in the Community and Voluntary Sector,” Mr Henderson said.

“Reducing crime, long-term welfare dependency and educational underachievement are difficult issues, and every community in New Zealand has a vested interest in making sure we as a country achieve these results.

Mr Henderson added it was therefore concerning that only a couple of the lead government agencies have chosen to involve Community representatives and Community and Voluntary Sector organisations in determining the result targets and the action plans to achieve them.

“One has to ask whether this is simply repackaging of what we’ve already got because the same people will be giving the same answers to issues that are only getting worse. And if that approach worked, we’d have seen results a long time ago.”

Ric Odom, Chair of ComVoices, said the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Internal Affairs had both begun to involve communities and Community and Voluntary Sector organisations.

“Lack of consistency in the depth and way communities and Community and Voluntary Sector organisations are involved are, unfortunately, likely to translate into inconsistent delivery at a community level.

“Take Better Public Service result four for reducing the number of assaults on children as an example. Community organisations dealing with this issue day in and day out are the ones who can communicate concerns before it is too late. There is every reason for those organisations to be involved in formulating the action plan to achieve that target – they know where the support gaps are.”

Robyn Scott, Chief Executive of Philanthropy New Zealand, said the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance had been clear about their desire to see a stronger focus on involving the community to deliver public services that work.

“To achieve these results requires hard work and difficult choices by individuals, families and whānau in homes and communities around the country. We know they are capable of making those hard decisions, but they will need support.

“Government agencies rely heavily on non-government organisations to deliver services in our communities. To not involve them in determining the results targets and the action plans takes away a whole level of knowledge and understanding that is crucial to success.”

Ros Rice, Executive Officer of NZ Council of Social Services, said the results should be an opportunity to think differently, to involve communities and to behave in different ways.

“We are an incredibly dynamic sector, with a lot of grassroots involvement in communities throughout the country. Our size is testimony to that. We’re also the ones delivering the majority of services required to achieve the targets set out by the Government – it makes no sense not to use us and see what does and doesn’t work.”

The sector contributes 4.9 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP (including volunteer hours), which is similar to the contribution of the construction industry.

ENDS

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