ComVoices stronger together!

Anya Satyanand Anya_ComVoices (1)
Executive Officer
Ara Taiohi

Ka tangi te kaka
Ka tangi te titi
Ka tangi hoki ahau
Tihei Mauriora!

The kaka speaks, the muttonbird speaks, and so therefore do I!

As we near the end of a big year, it feels timely to acknowledge the whare of ComVoices- the network that coordinates and amplifies our voices through this blog and beyond. ComVoices represents the community, youth development, health and voluntary sectors, and speaks on the issues that matter. Over the last 12 months, sometimes that has meant speaking truth to power. I want to provide a brief youth development sector snapshot of why we (along with our whanaunga from the disabilities, social service, christian and iwi sectors) have been well served by the combined strength and purpose of the ComVoices network.

In the last 12 months, members reported that new requirements were being introduced into MSD’s contracts requiring NGOs to hand over identifiable client level data to MSD. ComVoices formed the collective view that these ICLD requirements would have huge and negative consequences for many of the people and communities our members serve. Much has been written here and elsewhere about all the issues raised by ICLD, but what hasn’t been storied was all the hard work that ComVoices did to engage constructively with politicians and officials, create alternatives and raise these issues fearlessly in the media. We worked collectively to generate a shared understanding of what the issues were, and voiced views that were made stronger because of the breadth of perspectives that sat behind them.

In recent times, the not for profit sector has been framed and described by many as a market, treated as a market, and therefore was sensibly regulated by market forces. Through this metaphor, the work we collectively do, with young people, with disabled communities, in iwi and families, supporting communities, has been characterised as ineffective, unquantifiable, vague, nice-to-have, but without much benefit in real terms.

I believe that ComVoices provides a framework and model for a more accurate and much better metaphor for the community sector. We function as an ecosystem; interconnected, interdependent, mutually supportive, complex. The work that we’ve done in our network over the last 12 months has upheld and uplifted the mana of each of the organisations and sectors that connect to the kaupapa of ComVoices, and through that work, the communities we serve. The powerful advocacy that ComVoices undertook to provide a different perspective on individual client level data to government has had real results that mitigated negative effects of a policy on people, families and communities.

I’m excited about ComVoices’ ability to progress our shared kaupapa of building Aotearoa’s understanding of the real value of our sectors to community wellbeing and to our democracy and economy. Mahi aroha, youth development, taking care of people is important work! To me, ComVoices is proof that we can be even more effective in our aim to influence positive policy change, when we work together.

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi
Engari, he toa takitini.

This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network

ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. It was established so that sector organisations would have a more powerful voice at Government level and in the community.

Click here for our website:  http://comvoices.org.nz/

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