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Great Expectations

Brenda photoBrenda Pilott

Chief Executive | Social Service Providers Aotearoa

The Labour-NZ First – Green coalition government came to power, somewhat unexpectedly, on a wave of enthusiasm and great hopes on the part of many.  After nearly a decade of low investment, low wages, funding freezes and targeting, it’s hardly surprising that the lid has come off and expectations are bursting out all over.

The community sector definitely has expectations of this government.  Our sector has, as we said to ministers, “been subject to long-term, persistent and systemic under-funding which is impacting on our ability to meet the needs of our communities….This situation is now untenable and we are concerned at the sector’s ability to maintain essential services.”

This is not an over-statement.  And, yes, we know a decade of under-funding can’t be remedied in a year.  But nor do we expect to be at the back of the queue.

The government has signalled the 2019 budget as having a focus on wellbeing.  That’s good news.  The community sector is a vital and intrinsic part of the creation and maintenance of social wellbeing.

We’re seeing welcome and genuine examples of engagement, listening and consultation.  The Oranga Tamariki regional and national forums and the Social Investment Agency’s round of workshops on social investment and social sector data are two excellent examples.  That signals a sea change in how government agencies work with community agencies.

The challenge is to turn all that listening and consulting into a realistic plan to set the community sector back onto a sustainable path.  That means a funding boost in the 2019 budget and a clear commitment to funding over the following years.

Our communities and the people who use our services rightly have great expectations of community service providers.  We have those expectations of ourselves.  The government, who are our main funders, now need to work with us to ensure those expectations are met.

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 websitehttp://comvoices.org.nz/