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Snap, Crackle and Pop

Anya_ComVoices (1)Anya Satyanand
Executive Officer
Ara Taiohi

I want to talk about hope. Yesterday I had the privilege of witnessing one community opening its space, arms and hearts to another community, full of hope and generosity. In the whaikorero much was made of the easiness of beginnings- but it’s what happens in the weeks and months that follow and how we deal with difference and difficulty that defines the real quality of a relationship. Afterwards kids ran around in the dusk and we talked about hope. The kind of hope that is always present at events like these, but hangs particularly heavy in the air right now around Aotearoa in all the places where people are doing it tough. It’s in these communities that the community and voluntary sector are doing their most important work.

ComVoices was a really important part of my introduction to the community sector. Having joined Ara Taiohi, the peak body for youth development, fresh (which is a kinder way of saying clueless) from the world of secondary education I was grateful to be part of a conversation where I got to hear the analysis of people who had a longer view than me of the sector, on the priorities of policy makers and the various operating models of ministers. ComVoices’ work powerfully supports organisations like mine, the sector we serve, and through them, the young people who around the country access youth development services every day. We’re a broad network, who work to our many strengths, collaborating in the knowledge that we each bring something important from our sphere within the wider sector to the table. We identify issues of common interest, share insights and work to make great things happen.

ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. Collectively we represent a vast and diverse range services that span Aotearoa’s breadth and support communities across the country. We’re a broad network, and as a network we work to our many strengths, collaborating in the knowledge that we each bring something important from our sphere within the wider sector to the table. We identify issues of common interest, share insights and work to make great things happen.

Recently, ComVoices hosted the first of a series of breakfast events that aspire to create a new kind of relationship between Parliamentarians and the community sector, through wānanga style breakfasts that explore areas of mutual interest. We hope that through shared learning, we can build a different kind of conversation and relationship between our sector and MPs.

Early one morning in very late March, with the first real southerly of the year blowing cold round the Beehive, we gathered for kai and kōrero and talked about what awesomeness would look like in the relationship between the sector and Parliament.

People talked about busting silos, more information flowing between the buildings of government and the community sector, relationships rather than transactions. Everyone present wanted a better understanding between decisionmakers and the people delivering on the ground, based on open, honest, trusted and interactive relationships.

There was also a common desire to establish personal and professional connections, and through these connections generate what is needed to permanently change the conditions for New Zealanders for the better- rather than fixes shaped by the electoral cycle. Breakfasters wanted to be equal partners in a cohesive system, for the system to create shared solutions and participatory and accessible modes of communication.

Having outlined what awesome would look like, there was even more snap crackle and pop as we designed a road map through topics for exploration at future breakfasts. A collection of these, in no particular order, follow:

  • Taking a community sector topic – like mental health or homelessness – and analysing it from a wellbeing perspective, using the living standards framework that Treasury have published in draft form
  • Creating conversations around ‘tricky’ issues and work it through to the point of action
  • The contracting/commissioning landscape for services across the country
  • What’s the shape of leadership in the sector?
  • Hearing the voices of the sector- being heard
  • A session focused on young people…

This last suggestion is the first one we’ll be picking up – ComVoices are cooking up a special breakfast where young people working in our sector will give their views of the future of our democracy, our economy and our communities.

Watch this space!

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/