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Rescuing Democracy in the Community Sector

Rescuing Democracy in the Community Sector

Organisations working in the community sector get a chance to assess the changes affecting them and share ideas about what to do about these, at the annual CWTAS forum next week.

CWTAS stands for Community Workers Training and Support, and has served the Nelson community sector for over 25 years by supporting NGOs, offering professional development, lobbying, liaison and an overview of the sector.

Chair Pat Webster says many groups today feel a loss of control and autonomy.

“There’s a feeling that organisations have to work to the agenda of their funders, often government agencies, and that it is increasingly difficult to keep to the ideals the groups were set up to serve,” she says. “We are bringing in a couple of out of town speakers for a panel discussion onRescuing Democracy in the Community Sector, where we’ll look at the issues and discuss the action we can take to change our mindsets, restore democracy and get back some of the enjoyment that came with pursuing our own goals.”

Pat Webster is herself on the panel, having recently completed a PhD on the marketisation of charitable organisations. She says she will share some insights into the nature of ‘mission drift’ and the democratic role of community organisations.

The other panellists are Seattle-based sociologist and academic Jim Diers who was last in Nelson in 2012, and Mary-Jane Rivers, Chair of the community led development organisation Inspiring Communities.

“ Jim has a passion for getting people engaged with their communities and in the decisions that affect their lives, “ Webster said. “And Mary-Jane has a deep interest in resilient local communities and identifying the opportunities for stepping outside our ‘sectors’ and creating inclusive communities together.”

Megan Courtney from Inspiring Communities will lead a discussion session for those attending to focus on how our community can take ownership and lead development to the benefit of everyone in Nelson-Tasman.

CWTAS will provide a light lunch. The annual CWTAS Community Forum is on Weds Sept 9, 2015, Trafalgar Pavillion. 12 -2pm. All welcome, koha for room hire, tea & coffee.


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