Network News

Network News July 2015

Meet the Members

Welcome to another article in the series introducing the wonderful members we serve and the work they are doing in their communities throughout Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Located in the Waikato, Putaruru COSS (PCOSS) meets quarterly at the Putaruru Community Resource Centre.  A network of 25 groups covering an area including Tirau and Arapuni, as well as Putaruru, and stretching 26kms south to Tokoroa, they represent both urban and rural communities.  PCOSS receives no funding and but acts effectively as an informal network bringing together diverse groups and providing them with information between meetings via newsletters and emails.

The Resource Centre’s Communications Manager Adrienne Bell, serves as secretary to the networking group which includes organisations like Youth Matters, Progress to Health and the Health Consumer Service.  PCOSS also has links with neighbouring Tokoroa COSS, Community Waikato and local Putaruru College.  Many of the groups do not have premises so the Resource Centre serves as a hub for the wider community, and the services they provide.

Adrienne sees a lack of employment opportunities as being the biggest challenge facing the area following the closure of major employer Carter Holt Harvey five years ago and the subsequent impact on local business.  Although there has been no decrease in the population of Putaruru, there are increasing numbers of older residents which has influenced the types of services and community groups needed in the area as well as making the local rest home a major employer.

Younger residents are not forgotten however with a strong local focus on training opportunities.  The Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre has a campus in the area and Trade Training in Tokoroa, Wairaki Polytechnic and Te Wananga O Aotearoa all provide buses for Putaruru students to travel to their campuses with Waikato University planning to do the same in 2016.

A focus for both PCOSS and the Resource Centre is empowering people through information and education.  When not working for PCOSS and the Centre, Adrienne is a District Councillor, secretary to the WBOP Association of Household Budgeting Services and a teacher of the ukulele!  This ability to wear many varied hats is no doubt typical of our amazing members who serve their communities in rural and small town New Zealand. To contact PCOSS call (07) 883 8045 or email putarurubudgeting@xtra.co.nz

New reporting standards for charities – more info
Some of you may have attended the series of workshops run throughout the country from March-June explaining the new reporting standards which came into effect on 1 April. Based on the workshops, Charities Services has produced three videos about the new standards for tier 4 charities plus a handy booklet.  Visit http://bit.ly/1HuZD9j to view the videos and download the book.

Read more >

Network News May/June 2015

Budget 2015

As part of our ongoing support for our membership, CNA commissioned BERL (Business and Economic Research Ltd) to provide commentary on this year’s Budget and its effect on community and voluntary groups.

Click and watch Chief Economist, Dr Ganesh Nana provide an overview and visit our website to read the full report.

Being a Fair and Reasonable Employer in Times of Uncertainty 
by Denise Lormans, Chair of CNA and Manager, Southland Community Law Centre

When your organisation is facing difficult decisions because of financial constraints, it is essential that you talk to your staff as you know that there may be a problem.

As employers you must act in good faith and act as a fair and reasonable employer would. This means that you should tell staff when things are starting to look grim.

The organisation should work with staff to ensure that they know what is going on at all times.  It is our experience that most of the time staff will actually come up with some fairly outstanding ideas on how to manage under financially stressful times.

As employers you should also update staff regularly about what the organisation is actually planning to do to support staff during any “transitional” or liquidation process.  This could be as simple as having regular meetings to talk about progress, or as complex as arranging registration with employment agencies for staff.

As employers you must follow the clauses of all employment agreements. Things to consider:
If your organisation is looking at restructuring, you need to be sure to follow the correct process.  You should seriously consider getting legal advice to ensure that you draw up a plan and know what the organisation needs to do through the process. False redundancies or incorrect processes are the cause of innumerable personal grievances. The correct process should also be covered within the employment agreements. Read more >

Network News April 2015

More effective social services?

The draft findings and recommendations from the NZ Productivity Commission inquiry are now out and submissions are invited by 24 June before it makes its final report. The draft report says users should be given greater say in the services they receive, and government departments should take a step back.

The report also suggests a competitive market based on tendering would encourage providers to offer better services as a means to secure clients.  This could lead to further changes to the way people access social services in next month’s budget according to Acting Prime Minister Bill English.

Community Networks Aotearoa was one of many organisations in the sector to make a submission to the inquiry (read our submission) and will be looking closely at the draft report.

To make a submission on the draft report (by 24 June), visit the Productivity Commission website.

Policing (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill – impact on voluntary and community groups

This bill proposes amendments to the Policing Act 2008 to enable cost recovery for certain Police services where there is a degree of private benefit to the users of the service.  Changes to the Act may see charities and other community groups paying for the police vetting of staff and volunteers.
ComVoices, of which Community Networks Aotearoa is a member, believes that voluntary and community organisations should be exempt from paying for policing services and this should be enshrined in legislation.

“It is the State itself that requires that NGO’s vet a wide range of people who work for them as staff and volunteers.  It’s a non-negotiable activity for NGO’s.  The reason for wider vetting is for public safety and that is a core Police role.  It is neither fair nor reasonable that the sector should now be asked to carry these costs.” says Helga Vientjes, ComVoices Chair. Read more >

Photo: bruceandrobyn