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Voluntary Sector welcomes dialogue on funding

Voluntary Sector welcomes more dialogue on social services funding rethink

Community and voluntary sector organisations are looking forward to working with the Government on the detail of how it will fund social services in the future.

Members of ComVoices, an independent network of Tangata Whenua, and community and voluntary sector organisations, said the Government had already started engaging on aspects of the changes.

Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations Executive Director Tina Reid said the Government’s move was an evolution of the Sector and Government relationship: “This is not just a discussion about funding, it is about the quality of the relationship. Government gets the Sector to deliver a huge number of services on its behalf."

Chair of the Association of NGOs of Aotearoa (ANGOA) Marion Blake said there was ample evidence that poor contracting practices, insufficient Sector input into Government policy making and poor Government understanding of the sector was hampering efficient and effective delivery to individuals and communities.

“What that means is that the Government currently has good intentions but that is not being translated into how services can and should be delivered.

Two recent reports - the Building Better Government Engagement reference group (BBGE) and the Association of NGOs of Aotearoa Good Intentions report - both showed that while government agencies did their best, they were often hampered by traditional ways of operating, based on a lack of understanding of the sector.

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“The Sector has long been advocating for community groups to have more autonomy and for government agencies to take a more holistic view of how they deal with families and communities. In practical terms it means building and recognising capability in our communities, working across government agencies, and reducing bureaucracy wῨere it™s hampering solutions, making sure government works with the sector not against it, and that there is reasonable accountability for funding.

YMCA Chief Executive Officer Ric Odom said the changes being signalled by the Government would likely mean some changes in thinking within Government and the Sector.

“Social service organisations in New Zealand rely on multiple funding streams to deliver services. Government funding is part of the picture but not all of it. Like anyone with a stake in an organisation, the demands need to be proportionate to the funding.

“The Sector is also up to the challenge. It is driven by a desire to do what is best for communities. Any current Sector inefficiencies or duplication are often driven by the perverse behaviour that is promoted by the current contracting environment. If the Sector isn’t part of developing solution it is likely that will continue,” he said.

The Government’s Whanau ora model was one way for doing things differently, and there were many others, including the Inspiring Communities network, which supports Transforming Tamaki and Great Start Taita as two examples of communities solving their own problems.

Wendi Wicks of DPA getting the mix right was going to be crucial to New Zealand’s economic success.

“Even though only 10% of our Sector organisations have paid staff, they employ 105,340 people. In other words, the assertion that the Sector is integral to the nation’s well-being, is based on fact.”

Ms Wicks said the Sector was playing a significant role in supporting those families and communities still affected by the recession.

“While the economy is showing signs of recovery, there is a lag effect on those most vulnerable and the impact of the recession is still hurting families. Communities and the Sector are essential part of the solution. That means thousands of organisations still need to be funded for the role they are playing,” she said.

A New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) “Vulnerability Report”, released in September June 2009, confirmed the recession has made life more difficult for many people and placed an even greater strain on helping agencies.

The report says job losses have been acutely felt in metropolitan centres where the cost of living is high. Pressure points are in the areas of emergency food, parcels and meals, housing, such as night shelters, and budget advisory services. New client groups also include formerly high and middle income families trying to service mortgages on dramatically reduced incomes. Many are ineligible for Work and Income support and are approaching social service agencies for help. There are also growing numbers of older people approaching food banks for the first time.

Philanthropy New Zealand Executive Director Robyn Scott said any changes to the funding model needed to move away from tick boxes and outputs to one of outcomes to be successful.

“It is going to mean doing things differently and it’s going to take a degree of maturity from everyone across the political spectrum. There needs to be accountability but there also needs to be an understanding that Government doesn’t have all the answers.”

“This is moving away from good intentions to great solutions,” she said.


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