News

Network News – April 2018

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Closing the Gap:

Income Equality Aotearoa New Zealand Inc., commonly known as “Closing the Gap”, exists because income/wealth inequality has increased significantly in New Zealand from the 1980’s to the present time. We are now, apart from Britain and the USA, one of the most unequal societies in the developed world. Research clearly shows that this level of inequality causes a significant increase in many social ills—crime, obesity, teenage pregnancies, incarceration rates, mental illness, life expectancy and infant mortality, children’s educational performance, homicides, and social mobility. It also has an effect on social cohesion and is not good for the economy. If you are unsure of this relationship read the very recently published “The Broken Ladder. How Inequality Changes the Way We Think, Live and Die” by Keith Payne.

“Closing the Gap” believes we can make New Zealand a much better country for us all if we can significantly reduce income/wealth inequality to the level of many Scandinavian countries.

Is our current Government helping? The most obvious way to reduce this inequality is to lower the income/wealth of those at the top and increase it for those at the bottom. For income, this is about increasing the pay of those at the bottom—a tick for the Government here as they have indicated rises in the minimum wage in stages to the “living wage”—and significantly increasing the benefits of those not in work. There have been no firm signals from Government regarding benefits except to say there will be a review of all benefits. Our benefit system in New Zealand is largely punitive, based on the myth that if you make life tough for people they will work harder. So we need to put pressure on Government to reverse this attitude and raise benefits to a level that will encourage, not penalise people.

For most people wealth is tied up in their houses and reduction of this inequality requires tackling the current housing affordability crisis. Here the Government is to be commended as it appears to be seriously trying to tackle this issue. We await the outcome of their efforts.

For the seriously high income earners in New Zealand (and sadly we have quite a lot of these) there is no evidence that very high incomes improve work outcomes. Currently the only way this problem can be improved is by significantly increasing our top marginal tax rates to say 60 or 70% for those earning over $200,000 per year. The Terms of Reference of the Tax Working Group seem to exclude this possibility over which we are deeply disappointed. But on the positive side the Tax Working Group seem to be seriously looking at a capital gains tax. Strength to their arms we say as this is definitely a smart move towards reducing wealth inequality.

So, we are delighted at some of the moves of the current Government. There are some issues for which it will be wait and see and there are others for which our work at “Closing the Gap” is certainly not over.

Peter Malcolm, National Secretary of Income Equality Aotearoa NZ Inc (Closing the Gap)

 

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.  This month we feature Taupō Council of Social Services.

We are the umbrella organisation for the social service and community sector in the Taupō district and we hold the vision of a thriving, just and connected Taupō.

Taupō Council of Social Services (TCOSS) is able to provide independent support, guidance, advocacy and opportunities for groups to enhance their capacity to provide services in our district.

Our members cover all aspects of community support ranging from arthritis support to youth services and we also provide monthly networking opportunities for the social service and youth worker sectors.  These forums help foster collaboration and cooperation between agencies which can lead to better outcomes for the community.  We provide advocacy and support and can also act as a facilitator when issues between agencies arise.  We research options for training and arrange for it to happen at either minimal or nil costs. We disseminate information on a variety of topics and issues through regular email.

We chair Taupō Pathways for Youth Employment, an alliance of agencies generating better outcomes for youth in transition to employment and we also participate in the Community Response Forum which is a partnership between government and the community. Forum members are drawn from communities, iwi, government agencies, and other funders.

We organise a biennial Community & Social Services Forum – an event that showcases the smaller specialist and often under recognised support groups alongside the mainstream services. In addition we organise funding expos for social service and community groups.  The TCOSS Social Service Directory has full details on services, staffing, availability, and referral processes for organisations that service the Taupō district.

TCOSS expects to see all disadvantaged and minority groups in our community benefit from social service groups working well together in the Taupo district.  Andrew Lilburn

Scott Miller Volunteering NZ discusses Corporate Social Responsiblity       

“Handful of local multi-nationals leading by example” – Scott Miller

Scott leads the strategic and operational delivery of Volunteering New Zealand’s outputs and outcomes. His extensive cross-sector experience in public, private and NGO roles ensures the organisation’s people, purpose and priorities are both sustainable and sector-leading.

  1. What’s the state of corporate social responsibility in New Zealand?

I believe that CSR in New Zealand is ‘lumpy’. There are a handful of local multi-nationals leading by example (e.g. the same ones being recognised at BACS Good Egg Awards every year), then a lot more that have good intentions, but either through a lack of strategic planning or execution, fail to provide the impetus that could truly transform both organisations and community partners. The other 80% of the corporate sector remains dormant, waiting for millennials to take hold and lead more meaningful social engagement with the community sector.

2. What are the key things corporate organisations need to know about working with community partners?

I believe the key thing corporate organisations need to remember is that community organisations are not charity cases that need ‘saving’. Yes they lack some of the institutional resources that are taken for granted in a corporate environment, but this makes them capacity constrained, not incapable.

Additionally, NGOs need on-going, deep dialogue and engagement (aka transformative relationships) not transactional relationships made to serve the interests of the corporate almost to the detriment of the NGO. The often zero-sum games corporate volunteering ends up in with community organisations shows the immaturity of the NZ CSR sector. A great article on the relationship between community and corporate organisations can be found here.

3. How can community organisations better understand corporate organisations?

I believe a lot of community organisations view corporate organisations as cash-flush, willing to donate. Rather, I believe that the real win-win magic happens when community organisations build long-term and meaningful relationship that might mean on-going access to mentoring, meeting-rooms, or other non-cash transactions. This often takes place through pre-existing networks, so it would be great to see how community organisations can take more responsibility for leading this work.

Widening of loan scheme offers alternative to loan sharks (17.4.18)

Carmel Sepuloni

HON CARMEL SEPULONI
Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni has today announced the widening of a low-interest loan scheme for people who might otherwise fall victim to loan sharks. Today “by Pacific for Pacific “ health support service provider Vaka Tautua has joined the Ministry of Social Development’s Community Finance Initiative (CFI).

“CFI is a partnership between the Ministry, BNZ, and Good Shepherd New Zealand that aims to help people in financial hardship to borrow money safely,” Ms Sepuloni said.

“It provides affordable credit to individuals and whānau on low incomes in the form of two loan products – a no-interest loan to be repaid over 12 months and a low-interest loan to be re paid over 36 months.

Three sub-contract providers deliver the service – the Salvation Army, Aviva and now Vaka Tautua.

“Vaka Tautua is the third provider to join the CFI, providing low-interest loans in Auckland and Wellington – and is looking to extend this service to Christchurch,” said Ms Sepuloni.

“Vaka Tautua will help more Pacific people who are single parents, older, disabled or seeking support for mental health issues get access to loans that will lift their quality of life.

“Already the CFI has helped people on low incomes borrow $2 million, saving them more than $1 million in interest and fees they might have had to pay if they’d borrowed from predatory lenders.”

Editors notes:

People can apply for an affordable loan through CFI at 15 sites around New Zealand – see table below:

Community Finance Initiative sites Provider
Whangarei Salvation Army
Waitakere Salvation Army
Henderson Vaka Tautua
Mt Wellington Salvation Army
Manukau Salvation Army
Manukau Vaka Tautua
Hamilton Salvation Army
Tauranga Salvation Army
Napier Salvation Army
Palmerston North Salvation Army
Porirua Salvation Army
Porirua Vaka Tautua
Wellington Salvation Army
Christchurch Aviva
Invercargill Salvation Army

Special offer just for members of Community Networks Aotearoa and their networks – because we think you’re great!

Facing an increase in your insurance premium? Then Community Networks Aotearoa in association with Rothbury Insurance Brokers can help!

This is a package specifically created for community groups and organisations, with extremely discounted rates.

We are pleased to offer this opportunity not only to our member organisations but to their members as well. If you, or one of your network organisations, are interested in receiving an obligation free quote, please contact us for the special code you will require and Rothbury’s contact details.

Click here and listen to Ros interview Tim Ng the Chief Economic Adviser from Treasury about the Wellbeing papersPaul Barber from NZCCSS;  Gill Greer from the National Council of Women and Lyndy McIntyre about the Living Wage.

To blog, or not to blog…

Here are the links to the latest ComVoices blogs on Community Scoop. I recommend a browsing through these blogs.  They are fascinating reading as always…
Snap, Crackle and Pop by Anya Satyanand Executive Officer, Ara Taiohi.
What is a Charity? by Ros Rice Executive Officer, Community Networks Aotearoa
Waitetoko – Steaming Water by Tim Barnett Chief Executive, National Building Financial Capability Charitable Trust
Do we really want guns in our Schools? by Warren Lindberg. Chief Executive Officer, Public Health Association
The quest for global citizenship education by Ronja Levers, External Relations Coordinator, Hui E!
2018 – Bring it on! by Marion Blake Chief Executive, Platform Trust
A better life for all by Gill Greer, CEO National Council of women of NZ

Least we forget:

And don’t forget, we’re here to help.  If you have any problems or issues, or just need some information, please don’t hesitate to contact Ros at the CNA office on Wellington (04) 472 3364 or eo@communitynetworksaotearoa.org.nz  Our staff and our Executive Committee are here to provide support to our membership and always welcome your contact.
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