Support the community sector, before it falls over
Age Concern says New Zealand’s non-profit, community sector is in danger of falling over. “Over recent years, the community sector has been expected to provide more and more services for less and less resources,” says Claire Austin, Chief Executive of Age Concern New Zealand.
“Community groups and organisations have been expected to fill the gaps left by the withdrawal of publicly funded health and social services. With growing numbers of people who have been affected by cuts to their income, growing housing and health costs, these community groups are left to pick up the pieces. The demands for community services continue to grow, yet our ability to deliver is constantly threatened,” says Ms Austin.
For example, since 1994, the Lottery Aged fund has shrunk by $880,000. In 1993/94, the Lottery Aged fund was $4,000,000 - in 1999/2000 it is $3,120,000. In Age Concern’s case, the Lotteries fund has supported essential administration costs and Field Officer salaries (for no more than $25,000 per worker). On these limited salaries, Field Officers struggle to meet the demands upon them to provide assistance, information, support, and advocacy to people in need.
“Another concerning factor is that special promotional events grants, such the Millennium fund, are announced, yet the reality is that the money isn’t new funds at all. In fact, we believe its what’s been taken from essential community and social services,” Ms Austin said.
Age Concern believes that there has to be climate of respect, co-operation, and shared power. Age Concern calls on the incoming Government to work in true partnership with the community sector, and to provide enough money for public health and social services.