Improving the Community - Government Relationship

  • Steve Maharey
Community and Voluntary Sector

A better working relationship between community organisations and government agencies is the goal of a statement signed at Parliament today.

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Steve Maharey signed the Statement of Government Intentions for an Improved Community – Government Relationship.

Helen Clark said the statement demonstrates the government’s commitment to creating an environment where community organisations are treated with respect, and will make it easier for organisations to work with government.

“In health, social services, environment, arts and culture, sport and recreation and many other areas the work of the community sector makes a significant contribution to New Zealand society.

“Over one million New Zealanders undertake some form of voluntary work in their communities and over $1.3 billion of taxpayer and other funds is invested annually in the services provided by community sector organisations. It is vital that these organisations and government have a positive working relationship,” Helen Clark said.

Steve Maharey said prior to the last election Labour and the Alliance regularly heard from the community sector that it often felt its role and work was not recognised or valued by government.

“In government Labour and the Alliance have worked hard to build a new relationship with the voluntary sector based on mutual trust and respect. The statement formalises the commitment we made in our manifesto to work with and listen to the community.

“The statement adds value to the commitment the government has already shown to the community and voluntary sector though a $31 million funding package in this year’s Budget. This funding gives community social service organisations their first significant baseline increase in five years,” Steve Maharey said.

Helen Clark and Steve Maharey said the statement will be implemented by practical actions such as government officials working co-operatively across agencies to help people and communities get the best service from government; improving consultation processes and the way government involves the community in policy and decision-making; and, looking for ways to streamline government funding arrangements for community organisations.

The formal signing of the statement reflects a recommendation of the Community and Voluntary Sector Working Party, which reported to the government in April 2001.

The statement also supports the work of the Community – Government Relationship Steering Group established in September to work on the Government’s response to the Working Party’s report. Chaired by Dorothy Wilson, the Steering Group is leading work in three priority areas:
* Improving participatory processes around developing and making policy
* Reviewing resourcing and accountability arrangements
* Strengthening the community sector itself.

The Ministers said this important relationship building work is intended to improve the way government does business and achieves its objectives.