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Umbrellas make us stand close together

photo of Peter GlensorPeter Glensor, General Manager
Hui E!

Last week we held a second meeting of national umbrella groups.  There were people from environmental, health and social services groups, groups giving advice, and groups working with old and young people.  We were reminded of the huge diversity of the community sector – faith communities, volunteering groups, cultural and sporting organisations, professional associations, the disability community, very large and very small groups.

We looked at two main issues – contracting for services, and Sustainable Development Goals.  We found that, in all our diversity, we share so many common issues and values as a sector.

We share a passion for collaboration – working together is an essential characteristic of how we work.  A constant frustration is that, when you enter into a competitive tender you inevitably find yourself as a competitor with others – and often you can’t say anything to them.

Recently I led a meeting of groups offering services to a particular group – we heard from a national organisation who had won a tender for services to this group – the speaker bravely acknowledged that they had won that tender, and that this led to considerable unease among a number of the other groups.  In our meeting last week, we grappled with this paradox.  We committed ourselves to do more work – not just to shrug our shoulders and say “that’s life”.  Instead we agreed to work together to explore other ways that a funder or a purchaser can fund or buy services without a commercial competitive tender – but still be confident that they are getting high quality services, that any new players in the field have a chance to be included, that there is demonstrated value for money, and that the costs are being benchmarked.

The second area – Sustainable Development Goals – has very exciting potential for our sector to think big.  The UN recently agreed on a set of 17 SDGs (the UN competes with the health sector for its love of acronyms!).  The goals cover just about every aspect of community life.  What is remarkable about the SDGs is that they will apply to every country that signs up to them – not just the “underdeveloped” world.  The UN is asking every country to prepare a set of specific targets for each of the 17 Goals – “appropriate to their country”, and which they will report on regularly to the other UN members.

Hui E! has accepted the challenge of getting civil society in NZ to think about this opportunity.  We believe the setting of NZ targets is an ideal opportunity for us to look at areas where maybe we aren’t doing as well as we could (violence to children?), or where our goals seem much less ambitious than those of other countries (greenhouse gas emissions?).  There are issues where we might need to put in more effort (affordable and healthy housing?) or where the government and community are already taking strong initiatives (Pay Equity?).  Over the next few months we hope you’ll look at the Goals (www.ourSDGs.nz ) and make your judgements about our priorities as a country – peter.glensor@huie.org.nz