Over the past few months, many of our community organisations were deemed essential services and kept us afloat. They got food on our tables, ensured the homeless had housing and lifted our mental health during a time of crisis. Where would we have been without our community and voluntary sector?

It is now time to turn our attention to the General Election to be held on Saturday, 19 September 2020. What are the political parties’ key policies to support a thriving and sustainable community and voluntary sector in a post pandemic environment?

Find out relevant sector information about New Zealand’s 2020 General Election on this page.

 

Charities, elections and political parties

Charities play a really important role in political conversations while maintaining their independence from political parties. Here is a link to guidance Charities Services has published on their website to help charities understand their obligations during election time.

Political party webinar about the community sector

On Wednesday 10 June 2020, Hui E! Community Aotearoa, ComVoices, Sue Barker Charities Law,
Trust Democracy and the Todd Foundation joined forces to ask our New Zealand politicians how
they will support a thriving community and voluntary sector. As one of the first election events in the lead up to Election 2020, there was an air of nervousness in the Zoom waiting room.

 

Download webinar summary – Educating political parties to help the community sector (PDF 260KB)

Read the press release

Welcoming speech

Hosts

  • Hui E! Community Aotearoa is a peak body that champions the community sector
  • ComVoices gives community and voluntary organisations a more powerful voice at government level and in community.
  • Sue Barker Charities Law is a boutique charity law firm specialising in charities law and public tax law
  • Trust Democracy promotes national and local discussion, analysis and research on the quality and functioning of New Zealand’s democracy
  • Todd Foundation is a philanthropic foundation who funded the hui.

Introduction

Pania Coote (Co-Chair Tangata Whenua, Hui E! Community Aotearoa)

“We fight to be seen, to be valued, for our fair share.”

“We are a diverse bunch of people in the community and voluntary sector. However, we are united in the belief that our tangata, our people, and our whenua, our land, are of immense value. Our unity of spirit is our strength, and is under threat. We want the government to unite with us through generosity of spirit and ngākau, big heartedness.”

Download the full speech.

Minister Poto Williams, Labour

“There’s no doubt that over the last couple of months, the absolute value of the community sector has been demonstrated.”

“We are the most voiceless in terms of a sector, but we are the most important.”

Labour / Government policy referred to

  • The legislation needs to be changed to enable advocacy and is a priority in the review of the Charities Act 2005, despite delay as a result of Covid-19.
  • Labour is looking into the best mechanism to improve the relationship between the government and the sector (last Election’s policy).
  • The Government is currently reviewing the Public Finance Act and State Sector Act to encourage cross-government and outcome-based approaches.

Personal views expressed

  • Re-establishing a Community & Voluntary Sector Office would be valuable.
  • Social infrastructure needs to have a value put on it as we rebuild post Covid-19. We should map out the gaps in social infrastructure and think about who is best to plug those gaps.
  • We need a structural change that allows community to really drive government policies.
  • Social enterprise has a place but it is not the entire answer – government has a role, as does philanthropy.
  • We should get rid of pilots and start looking to longer contracting terms.
  • We must move into an early intervention and prevention model of thinking.

 

Minister Tracey Martin, NZ First

“Let’s just acknowledge how much our over 65s put back into the community through volunteering.”

“Government needs to get its head around the fact that helping people isn’t about charging people.”

 

NZ First / Government Policy referred to

  • The Government supports “earning, learning, caring and volunteering”.
  • Office of the Community & Voluntary Sector must be more dominant.
  • Last week announced $30M dollars to train up librarians around the country.

Personal views expressed

  • Local communities know best what is needed for local communities and we need to change the framework by which the Government funds community, for example the Provincial Growth Fund support to Gore Hokonui Huanui (Highway).
  • Proceeds of gambling funds should be distributed to community groups as well as sport.
  • Prevention and early intervention is important.
  • It is currently too difficult to obtain a budget that is needed to support the sector.

 

Jan Logie, Greens

“Central government relies 100% on our community networks and organisations to deliver on our policy agendas. That reality is not properly realised yet.”

“It is the “responsibility of people working in the community not to just respond the harm in front of them, but to actually challenge the cause of harm, which all too often is the result of government policy.”

Greens policy referred to

  • Minister for the Community & Voluntary Sector to be more senior in Cabinet.
  • A ‘whole of government’ work programme to support the community, voluntary and tangata whenua sector.
  • Supports a review of the legislative framework, especially in terms of advocacy.
  • Resourcing the sector to do more of its own research, advocacy and training.

Personal views expressed

  • There is a new level of awareness of the sector within government agencies as a result of Covid-19.
  • We need to acknowledge the need to shift the power imbalance between government and the sector e.g. reporting practices that acknowledge the needs.
  • We should support those working in charities with secure wages and allow them to meet increased demand.
  • We need to better resource the sector e.g. study by Martin Jenkins recently found a $630M a year deficit in terms of the value of social services compared to what government was providing.
  • Social enterprise is not an alternative to government funding and it is not for everyone.
  • The Crown could be doing a lot more to partner with hapū and iwi. Co-design is essential.
  • We must acknowledge the work of community groups that represent marginalised communities.

 

Alfred Ngaro, National

“We need to head to a place where there’s a voice, where there’s resources and funding.”

“While we’re more than just numbers, the numbers are significant: 114,000 not-for-profit organisations, 28,000 charities, equating to $9.4b.”

 

 

National policy referred to

  • National supports social enterprise and put funding into Ākina to grow social enterprise in New Zealand.
  • National’s “social sector trials” were successful and found that local community groups could deliver service for a better cost than government.
  • National supports devolution of housing provision to community groups.
  • Whanau Ora and Te Wānanga are successful community initiatives that come out of National and the Māori Party.

Personal views expressed

  • Our NGO and volunteering sector are the backbone of our country.
  • There needs to be a systems change and we need to think about how we exercise our roles of responsibility.
  • We need to link social development more clearly with economic development.
  • Different alternatives to funding need to be explored e.g. partnering with local government.
  • Prefers “relationship” to “partnership” to emphasise working together and putting resources back into communities. Community led development is side-by-side.

 

Brooke van Velden, ACT

“We believe that people of the community understand their community better than the government does.”

“The community has grown through this crisis … and there is a community focus that will be coming out of [Covid-19] which is very beneficial.”

ACT policy referred to

  • ACT doesn’t have a policy on re-establishing the Office for the Community & Voluntary sector.
  • Responded to Covid-19 by putting forward ACT’s Alternative Budget.

Personal views expressed

  • Community groups and private charity are valuable – people know what’s best to do with their money, rather than through government funding.
  • There is a lot of bureaucracy and inefficiency in government funding, which needs to be fixed.
  • A big difference for the sector could be how the NGO sector works in mental health and receives funding.

 

Geoff Simmons, The Opportunities Party

“The big barrier that we see is the top-down mindset within government.”

 “The sector needs a seat at the table … and it should be as powerful a voice as Business NZ has.”

 TOP policy referred to

  • Localism – giving more powers to community to have their say.
  • Reform the tax and welfare system to have a universal basic income: $250 per week.
  • Social housing needs to be delivered through the community sector and/ or iwi.
  • Mental health spending needs to go into the social system and local communities.
  • Looking at the idea of ‘community dollars’, where people are given vouchers to put into their favoured community groups.

Personal views expressed

  • We have seen communities come together as a result of Covid-19, and we need to encourage that more.
  • Let’s (a) fund stuff that works and (b) devolve it to people who are in touch with their communities. That is the potential for cross-party agreement.
  • Social enterprise needs to be considered.
  • Concern with a Office & Voluntary Office becoming risk averse and not really representing what the sector wants.