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Communities Still Count

Communities Still Count

The efforts of many organisations to influence the electorate and the political parties they voted for in the lead up to the 2014 Election is over. The voting public has spoken and provided a strong endorsement to the centre-right National Government led by John Key. New Zealanders have voted for a centre right government but they remain concerned about our high rates of inequality and child poverty. We must ensure we continue to advocate for policies that will support vulnerable members of our communities to realise their potential.

Our government will be preparing to re-commence its legislative and regulatory programme. Their programme of tight targeting of resources, welfare reform and supporting business is well known to us and will gain further momentum through this third term of National-led government.

The “Community Counts” pre-election statement themes of “leave no-one behind”, “strong communities need strong community organisations”, and a “strong and capable community sector” remain important. As community and voluntary organisations it is critical we continue to work together to ensure the needs of our fellow community members, our families and whānau, our children and our older people are addressed.

We know strong communities are critical to maintaining the wellbeing of those who live in them. There is a great need for us as community organisations to move beyond just the delivery of a government funded outcome, to actually being involved in positive community development. In order to do this we must utilise the business infrastructure of our organisations, along with the skills and talents of our people to engage and grow our communities into mutually supporting, socially just and politically active entities.

A well supported “community and voluntary sector” is able to provide support, advice and practical aid to those who require a hand-up in times of need. This work moves far beyond any support that is provided by government agencies, it is work that is based on compassion, on relationships and the caring of one for the other. Through the building of trusting relationships, the sharing of resources and the strengthening of communities, individuals, families and whānau recreate the sense of being able to both give and receive care and support, of interdependence, to create long term and sustainable change.

The challenge for the community and voluntary sector as we move into the third term of this government is to demonstrate the effectiveness of our current work, so that it is properly resourced. And to move with government as they seek to create change in social outcomes through their tight targeting of resources. In doing this we must never lose sight of our individual community organisations’ missions. We must work together to ensure, in following tightly targeted funding programmes, we do not lose our purpose and vision. We too must be a community, working together to raise issues, to challenge and to work collaboratively to ensure we “leave no-one behind”.

Two ComVoices members, NZCCSS and Community Networks Aotearoa are working together to host the, “Social Justice in Communities” conference in Christchurch in October. It is focussed on building and maintaining socially just communities. This timely conference provides an opportunity for us to reinforce our social justice approach to our work. Check www.socialjustice.org.nz for further details.

Trevor McGlinchey

Executive Officer, NZCCSS


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