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Government Promises Active Partnership

Community-based social service providers can expect genuine and active partnership from the new Government, says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

Mr Maharey addressed the annual conference of the New Zealand Council of Social Services in Wellington this morning. Government relations with the community sector have been characterised by mistrust and insecurity in recent years and it is essential they are moved on to a cooperative basis. Speaking to the theme of the conference, The ball is in our court, Mr Maharey said that the new Government had an ambitious social investment programme which would prove challenging for both community organisations and the state.

"World-wide communities are rethinking the role of government. The debate in this country over the 1990s failed because National refused to accept that New Zealanders want to take local ownership in their communities, but they want to be actively backed by central government.

"Too often local solutions meant that the government wiped its hands and walked away. Community ownership of problems and solutions will be more effective because the expertise of those closest to the issues is directly harnessed.

"The challenge for this Government, and for community-based providers, is to build a strong professional relationship based on trust, accountability and respect. We need to clearly assign accountabilities and responsibilities and to secure the right of both parties to hold independent views.

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"In October I expect to receive a report from the Community and Voluntary Sector Working Group which the Government established earlier this year on how we can build this relationship, including consideration of whether we should go on to develop a formal agreement or compact as other countries have done.

"This is the moment in history when new opportunities are opening up for the community sector. I encourage the sector to seize this opportunity to work in genuine partnership with the Government," Steve Maharey said.


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