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The future of social family and whānau support in NZ

Media release

14 July 2011

The future of social family and whānau support in New Zealand

Models for a sustainable and affordable social support system for families and whānau in New Zealand already exist, they just need recognition and support, the Families Commission says.

Chief Families Commissioner Carl Davidson says, “we all recognise that the Government’s ability to fund services is constrained at a time when family and whānau support needs are predicted to increase. How to allocate shrinking resources in a time of increasing need will be a major challenge for the next decade.”

But Mr Davidson says it’s not about having to come up with something radically new.

“The key learning from the Families Commission-hosted 50 Key Thinkers Forum in May was that models for sustainable, affordable, engagement with families, whānau and communities already exist. But these pockets of excellence are often isolated and not connected to the people who make national decisions about funding and resourcing. As William Gibson said, ‘the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed’.”

The 50 Key Thinkers Forum was organised to understand how social support in New Zealand can continue to best serve families and whānau into the future. One of the main conclusions was that the solution included less government-down service provision.

“Rather,” Mr Davidson says, “the forum agreed that families, whānau and communities themselves need to be empowered to develop, design and deliver the support they need. Local solutions for local needs often work better than national, one-size-fits-all programmes.

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Mr Davidson says the Families Commission has committed itself to progressing the four key messages to emerge from the forum:

1. Empowering communities to be active in developing support systems and programmes.
3. Sharing knowledge and building relationships so good ideas are grown and innovation is recognised and supported.
5. Accelerating innovative practice so individuals, organisations and communities already doing great things can cut through the red tape and get connected with decision makers and funders (the Commission has already started a “promising practice’ programme specifically to help bring this about).
7. Funding and partnering effectively, with sound evaluation built into programmes; and encouraging flexible, high trust, accountability processes rather than rigid one-size-fits-all programmes that often do not work for everyone and risk some families falling through the cracks.

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