Critics Wrong - Community Wage Getting solid Support

  • Peter McCardle

It's early days yet, but in just the four weeks since the introduction of the Community Wage on October 1, approximately 1100 people have been placed in Community Work and many others are set to start in other new placements which are being approved every day.

There are already hundreds of sponsors (the name given to the groups or organisations taking on workers) signed up. Many more are in the process of being approved. They form a broad cross section, and include schools, councils, work and training trusts, charities, and specialist organisations such as volunteer centres. Most sponsors take on just a small number of people, often just one person.

The range of work is extensive, ranging from land improvement on marae, landscaping, to teaching assistance and administrative work. As one of the conditions under which Community Wage recipients are taken on, none of this work may displace any paid jobs. Many organisations serving communities operate on such a small financial base that there is not enough funding to take on paid employees in all roles.

The numbers doing Community Work are in addition to the many job seekers working on Community Taskforce and Taskforce Green projects.

The principal target group for placements on Community Work is the long term unemployed, who face greater difficulty than other job seekers in getting back into work, in large part due to the time away from the workplace.

Associate Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle said he was pleased at the numbers taking part. "The figures show how wrong the critics were. The knockers claimed there was no support for the Community Wage. Obviously there is widespread and growing support. The Community Wage projects will do a great deal both for the organisations taking part, and for the job seekers getting workplace experience.

"There has been a lot of misinformation spread about the way the scheme operates, and that unfortunately has led to the public getting the wrong idea about the Community Wage and Community Work. But gradually that situation is changing and the Community Wage is being recognised for the commonsense and helpful advance that it is," Mr McCardle said.

The following is a selection of organisations which are among those taking on Community Wage workers.

They are happy to talk to the media. Offices of Work and Income New Zealand may be able to help with names of further organisations. However the release of such information is covered by the Privacy Act, and prior agreement is required.

Tai Tokerau Regional Employment Training Trust (Northland)
Spokesman Monty Kirkman 025 2723176

Pakuranga Intermediate School (Auckland)
Principal Owen Alexander 09 5766861 wk 09 6387637 h

Pasifika Employment and Development Trust (Auckland)
Spokesman Clyde Young 09 6386565

Police 101 Patrol Group (Hamilton)
Iwi spokesman Wayne Panapa 025 2787280

S.P.A.N. Charitable Trust (Christchurch)
Spokesman Bruce Gurney 03 359 7407 h 03 3136707 wk

Richmond Primary School (Hawkes Bay)
Principal Harry Findlay 06 8437828

Hawkes Bay Volunteer Centre
Manager Tony Castles 06 8450167 021 417792

Southland District Council
Spokesman Russell McDonald 03 2187259