Hon Jo Goodhew, National Party – Minister of the Community and Voluntary Sector
Meeting notes, Thursday 12 March 2015
ComVoices representatives had a productive and positive meeting with Minister Goodhew.
The discussion centred on how ComVoices could strengthen the partnership relationship with Government –define what this looks like and work together to implement it. Key to this being accomplished are the implementation of six practical steps. The first of these was:
- Acknowledgement of our different roles – as a community sector, and as Government
The Minister was assured that the sector has no desire to set policy, but asks that its responsibilities are accepted and acknowledged. Government has its priorities and a responsibility to the taxpayers for how they spend taxpayers’ money.
The Community and Voluntary sector is linked to and responds to its communities. Many are engaged in specific service delivery, including work under contract to various government departments. But we are independent agencies.
Currently the sector feels under-valued; we feel we have become functionaries in a master/servant relationship. The value to the nation and to Government is when Government and the NGO sector work together in partnership.
- Mechanisms that enable us to work together to support community-led development and define shared outcomes
The sectors role in policy development was discussed and the Minister agreed that it is better if community players take part as one size does not fit all, and local flavour and local knowledge are vital in ensuring better outcomes.
Engagement mechanisms with Government are currently ad hoc. ComVoices asked for clearer and more consistent arrangements – not to develop policy but to inform and contribute to its development. We have no specific model in mind but there are many examples of how the sector and government are working together that could be used.
The whole of Government needs to understand and acknowledge the role the sector plays and it is through the Minister that we have our entry point to access and influence ‘whole of Government’.
- Appropriate, sustainable resourcing to achieve outcomes
The Minister acknowledged it is difficult for the sector as there has been no new money for some considerable time and it is having to do more with the same or less.
The Minister said appropriate resourcing was a huge issue and she wanted to assure us that Government was looking hard at change.
A single audit process for contracts was also raised.
The Minister said Government is working towards longer contracts and streamlining the process. Duplication is a major waste of time and resources and our support for this strengthened her resolve to keep it at the table.
- Procurement processes that ensure value for money while preserving a collaborative culture
The Minister was told the NGO sector is the exemplar of people doing a lot with a little – “on the smell of an oily rag”. Good value for money is found in our sector.
Our plea is “do not require us to compete against each other”. At its heart our sector has the ethos of collaboration. Procurement is divisive and we are being set one against the other.
The meeting ended at this point. The Minister noted that the conversation had not finished and asked for another date to be set as she was confident there was great value in keeping talking.
MP Louisa Wall, Labour Party – Spokesperson on the Community and Voluntary Sector
Meeting notes, March 2014
Following introductions and discussion about what ComVoices is and who is involved, the conversation was wide ranging before we got to the point of discussion of Communities Count 2. Some of the issues discussed included;
- the role of the Treaty of Waitangi
- the role of the Kia Tutahi Accord
- the situation regarding funding of Nga Pae ote Maramatanga.
Speaking to the messages from Communities Count 2, Louisa responded regarding her understanding that society needs to change and many Labour policies are around an increase in taxes to support this.
Louisa was keen on creating a sustainable system where community voices could be heard, and wanted the four well-beings to be brought back into the local government act. There was conversation regarding the diminishing of OCVS without consultation with the sector and a strong message the Labour not to do anything with input from the Sector.
Themes regarding participation by the sector in government processes; consistency of funding and disappointment that the Sector is still debating with government the same issues we were addressing 10 years ago. We discussed the perception that the Sector was not respected and how the core role of the sector as advocates was being denied to us. Another theme discussed was the concerns around the contracting and competitive funding model and how it cannot work at the same time as we are being asked to collaborate.
We clarified that the sector has a strong sense of identity and although it does not want to be government, it does want to be involved in decisions made by government. Louisa asked about issues to do with the Charities Act and the lack of review of this Act as was promised previously by the Government.
MP Tracey Martin, New Zealand First Party – Spokesperson on the Community and Voluntary Sector
Meeting notes, March 2014
ComVoices representatives introduced themselves and explained the representation of ComVoices and gave Ms Martin a copy of Communities Count 2.
Following discussion of the key point “Leave no-one behind” Helen mentioned her own experiences with rural communities with no public transport, health services and internet.
Discussion on ‘Strong Communities need Strong Community Organisations’ we were asked if we included local government in the requirement that the sector be involved in all planning processes as partners. Tracey felt the removal of the four well-beings from the Local Government Act as a bad thing, and that lack of consultation with the Community sector was a wasteful way of operating.
From this flowed further discussion on the inability for the sector to speak out as advocates, and there was agreement that it is time for the Crown to publicaly affirm the place and right of NGOS to advocate. ComVoices representatives stated how we all want to work in partnership.
Further to this was conversation about policy makers who still believe voluntary work was mostly done by women at home, and how that view has not kept up with the reality of modern times.
When the issue of procurement was brought up, Tracey was well aware of how this system was affecting NGO’s and sited examples that she knew of personally. She followed up with her experiences of changes in philanthropic giving, strategic funding of small community groups, and the need for the a repeat of the research on nonprofit organisations that occurred when the Satellite report came out from the 2011 census.
The meeting concluded with an emphasis that ComVoices believe what we are asking doesn’t cost money, but changes the way that we do things.
Dr Helen Potter, MANA Party – Senior Advisor/Researcher
Meeting notes, March 2014
Following introductions and clarification about ComVoices Dr Potter suggested that it would be great to have an international indigenous speaker with a Maori MP as host. This was agreed as an excellent idea.
Helen agreed to send Mana’s small business and community policy to send to ComVoices members. There was discussion about the lack of information on ethnicity based issues and Dr Potter suggested that lack of challenge of this issue makes people complicit.
Helen said that the Mana Party was prepared to be bold and say and do the things that need to be done, and that is their contribution ot the public discourse.
Dr Potter agreed with all the main points as outlined in Communities Count 2 and added following points:
- Mana believes the entire tax, banking and finance system needs to be reformed.
- Dr Potter had worked at NZCER and with all their expertise and resources it would take a week minimum to complete a simple RFP to GETS. She understood the difficulty for sector organisations to be able to enter the competitive contracting environment via on-line RFP.
Helen said that Mana would look through the ComVoices key messages and would also review Kia Tutahi.
MP Metiria Turei and Denise Roche – Green Party – Co-leader and Spokesperson Community and Voluntary Sector
Meeting notes, March 2014
ComVoices met with Metiria and Denise and introduced ComVoices and the role that it plays. The purpose of the meeting was clarified, (to present the key issues from the sector as summarised in Communities Count 2 – 2014,
We clarified our core commitment being recognition and support for Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Tangata Whenua, and we requested that government continue to recognise it’s place at the centre of all policy development and delivery, and we asked that there be clear accountability and monitoring of this.
We outlined the three key messages, and Metiria said that their three major policies featured inequality in all of them.
The Green party has started the process of talking about greed as the single driver that causes a huge number of problems. This opens conversations. Matiria noted that Parliament had a cross party group to work on equality, but its success was variable.
There was discussion about some countries which have a democracy audit, and there was a discussion on the loss of democracy in NZ.
We discussed the Charities Commission and the issue of review of the definition of advocacy. Denise has a draft bill “Charities as Advocates” but it is unlikely to come up in a ballot before the election.
Following further wide ranging discussion we advised that the ComVoices messages were being taken to all parties, and once the Communities Count 2 document has been ratified, we will forward it to them.
MP Annette King, Labour Party – Spokesperson on Health
Meeting notes, December 2013
ComVoices met with Annette King and recapped the role of ComVoices and the fact that ComVoices was an independent collaborative network of approximately 22 Wellington NGOs. We explained that meeting with her was one of a series of meetings being held with MPs to deliver key messages on ‘whole of sector’ and ‘whole of government’ issues, so that MP’s were well informed as they contributed to the the development of party policy in the coming election year.
A key introductory message was that the sector was currently under stress and resilience and sustainbility was in question. We shared the key messages from ComVoices and the 2011 Communities Count paper, which we will be updating in 2014.
Hon Paula Bennett, National Party – Minister of Social Development
Meeting notes, December 2013
ComVoices met with Minister Bennett, and introduced the members of the group. The role of ComVoices in the sector was outlined.
The five representatives discussed the key messages from the members of ComVoices including the loss of the role of OCVS which no longer has a presence for the Sector.
We also discussed the issue of research into the value of outcomes processes, and the concern around the sustainability of the sector due to uncertainty around contracting and funding.
The Minister responded positively and signalled that a message will come to the sector acknowledging the year of changes and a ‘heads-up’ on standing contracts.
MP Sue Moroney, Labour Party
Meeting notes, 21 November 2013
ComVoices discussed the scale and scope of the Community Sector, the work of ComVoices and gave Sue a copy of the 2011 Communities Count Paper.
We discussed the Community Dialogues which have been held around the country, but SDP, NZCOSS, Volunteering NZ and Community Research and the responses to these.
We talked about the relationships that we hoped Labour would work with in the sector, and passed on the key messages (plus ensuring Sue understood these were a work in progress.)
We undertook to continue to meet with different MPs in the Labour Party to ensure that we keep conversation about issues for our sector on the radar of the Labour party.
Sue noted she intends to start an e-newsletter to the sector.