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Network News – February 2019

Network News February 2019

Community Networks Aotearoa is an umbrella organisation for local community networks. Our goal is to empower and strengthen the community sector by supporting community networks across Aotearoa.

We:

  • Provide advice and support to members
  • Connect community networks nationally
  • Use our collective voice to advocate for policy change and raise awareness of issues affecting the community sector

To find out more visit our website here.

This newsletter covers topical issues in the community sector. In this newsletter:

  • Update from CNA Executive Officer, Ros Rice
  • Guest column – Alan Johnson
  • Save the date! CNA and NZCCSS joint conference 27th and 28th Aug 2019
  • Charities Act review
  • On Air
  • Government reforms/consultations
  • To blog, or not to blog
  • Things to note before you go
  • Special offer for members

Update from CNA Executive Officer, Ros Rice

Tena Koutou Katoa

Happy New Year!

Here’s a quick update on what we’ve been up to.

A big focus for our organisation is promoting the role of the community sector, and trying to ensure community organisations have the support and resources needed to do the amazing work they do. This often involves talking with MPs, and at the end of last year I, along with Brenda Pilott, Social Service Providers Aotearoa and a representative from the NZ Council of Christian Social Services, met with Grant Robertson and Carmel Sepuloni to talk about the role of community in improving wellbeing and the needs of the sector, including resourcing. I also passed on messages from CNA members that were given to me at the last CNA Hui.

We pushed the issue that many community organisations need more resource and we noted that the Government has a strong focus on wellbeing, but key to delivering positive outcomes is a strong community sector.

I came away with the impression that both Ministers are fully aware of the challenges facing NGOs. So we’ll keep the pressure on for change, and with so many significant reforms underway, a big focus for us this year will be pushing for the needs and voice of the community sector to be recognised.

A heads up that our governance project is continuing this year. Here at CNA we’ve fielded a lot of feedback from organisations seeking information on good governance, or help with governance issues. So we’ve teamed up with a group of other interested people and organisations with experience in community sector governance to look at how practical support can be given to boards and committees, and how we can promote the value of good governance. Watch this space!

And lastly, as always, remember we’re here to help. If you’re a member of CNA and have a problem or issue, or just need some information, please don’t hesitate to contact me on (04) 472 3364 or eo@communitynetworksaotearoa.org.nz.

Guest column: Alan Johnson
Proposed education reforms may heal community divisions 

The conclusions and proposals of the Tomorrow’s School Independent Taskforce have much to recommend them. The Taskforce points out that the Tomorrow’s School model of self-governing schools set up a competitive model where schools compete for students and the funding they bring with them. It claims that this competition has failed to reduce educational inequality and has not served poorer families and poorer communities well.

These failures are in part because of the capacities of communities to competently run self-governing schools and in part because of the simple economics of running a school. Poorer and more marginalised communities can and do struggle to organise Boards or Trustees with the skills and experience to govern their schools effectively. This means that the Boards and the school’s governance are captured by the school principal and her or his agenda. Not all principals are competent or well-meaning and those working in low decile schools often don’t live in the local community so don’t necessarily share its challenges and experiences.

The economics of running a school are fairly straightforward. Boards have to allocate their operating budgets across three areas – learning resources, administration and property. But economics of scale drive these allocation decisions and perhaps too the ambitions of some principals and Boards. To some extent administration and property costs are fixed and don’t vary much between a primary school of say 200 students and one of 400. This means that smaller schools struggle to get sufficient money to allocate into learning resources despite some targeted funding offered by Ministry of Education. The educational opportunities offered to students suffers as a consequence – money for IT and class trips are two examples.

A common response by many schools is to grow the school’s roll by poaching students from other neighbourhoods or communities. Moreover, if you can get the more able or more motivated students from these other areas its win-win-win for your school. Your teaching budgets rise, your students are easier to teach and the principal gets a pay rise. Of course the children left behind are worse off – with under-resourced local schools at risk of educational and financial failure. But what is this to the autonomous self-governing super-school down the road, or across the tracks or on the other side of the river with its flash new facilities and celebrity principal?

This competition is of course divisive for communities and wastes public and community resources with additional investment in some schools and underused resources in others. But most discouraging is the waste of many of our poorer children’s potential with their early disengagement from school and their exit from school with few if any qualifications.

The Taskforce’s solution is to establish education hubs which appear to be like the Education Boards we had prior to Tomorrow’s Schools. These hubs will employ school Principals and take over some of the governance responsibilities of Boards of Trustees. The hubs will also support the teaching efforts of schools and encourage cooperation and collegiality between schools rather than competition.

Such ideas are past due but their success depends critically on having the right people to run this new system. Regrettably such people are hard to find in our education system at present.

Alan Johnson is a social policy analyst with The Salvation Army and is a Board of Trustees chairperson for a Decile 1 school in South Auckland. 

From time to time CNA invites individuals to contribute to our newsletter as a guest columnist. The thoughts, ideas and opinions shared by guest columnists are not necessarily those of CNA. 

Save the date! 2019 CNA and NZ Council of Christian Social Services joint conference 27th and 28th August 2019

CNA and the NZ Council of Christian Social Services are holding our joint conference on the 27th and 28th August 2019 in Wellington. Everyone is welcome. The theme this year is Tātou tātou e (all of us together): The value of relationships and building wellbeing.

We know wellbeing is a key focus for this Government, so the conference is an excellent opportunity to hear about how the community sector fits into the Government’s priorities and highlight the important role of the sector in building wellbeing. The conference will be jam packed with thought-provoking speakers with lots of opportunities for connecting with others across the country.

Once registration opens we’ll let you know, we’ll also put information up on our website.

Important – Charities Act Review 

The Charities Act 2005 is being reviewed to ensure that it is effective and fit for purpose. The Department of Internal Affairs will be releasing a discussion document later this month, and are holding a series of community meetings in March and April 2019 – more information on the review and meetings can be found here.

Sue Barker and Dave Henderson have received funding from a group of 12 community trusts and foundations to make sure there is a strong community voice in the review. As part of this work they have developed a survey to help provide independent input into the review. The review is important so please take a moment to read the message from Sue and Dave below and take part in the survey.

Kia ora koutou katoa,

This survey is to help us make independent input to the Review of the Charities Act, that is being run by the Department of Internal Affairs. We, that is Sue Barker and Dave Henderson, have received funding from a group of 12 community trusts and foundations so as to make sure there is a strong community voice in the review.

This note is a reminder – if you have already completed the survey, thank you! If not, please do. We have over 500 completed so far but we want to make sure we get as complete a picture as possible. Please also share this request with your network – this is important!

We need your information whether or not you are a registered charity, so we can get that complete picture. If you are involved in more than one organisation, please complete the survey more than once, giving answers separately for each. Please especially complete the survey if your group has applied for Charities registration and has been turned down, or if you withdrew the application, or if you have been deregistered.

Here is the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CA2005

If you have any feedback on a particular question, or on the questionnaire as a whole, please send it to me or to Sue. We realise it is quite long but there are a lot of issues where we need data to feed into the review, and we really appreciate your time.

There is a saying that in a democracy, you get the legislation you deserve – this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create the best framework for charity law in New Zealand that we can. Please help to make sure the community voice is heard.

Thanks again for your input to this important project.

Noho ora mai, nā
Dave Henderson and Sue Barker
davehendersonnz@gmail.com  I susan.barker@charitieslaw.co

Click here and listen to Ros interview Chris Glaudel from Community Housing Aotearoa.

You can also listen to previous interviews, including Paul Barber from the NZ Council of Christian Social Services, Rata Kamau from IRD, Alfred Ngaro, National MP and Minister Peeni Henare, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector.

Government reforms/consultations 

Current consultations

  • The Safe and Effective Justice Programme Advisory Group – Te Uepū Hāpai i te Ora – is visiting towns and cities across New Zealand to hear what people want from their criminal justice system. Find out more here (including a list of public forums).

Other reforms to note

  • Important – The Charities Act 2005 is being reviewed to ensure that it is effective and fit for purpose. The Department of Internal Affairs is holding a series of community meetings in March and April 2019 about the review – more information can be found here.
  • The Welfare Expert Advisory Group is advising on the future of the welfare system. Consultation has now closed. The Group will deliver its advice in a report to Ministers in February 2019, and Cabinet will make decisions on the Government’s response in March. More information can be found here.
  • Child Wellbeing Strategy – the strategy will commit Government to set and report on its actions to improve the wellbeing of all children and young people. For more information click here.
  • The Government is reforming the State Sector Act. More information on the review can be found here.
  • The Tax Working Group is examining the structure, fairness and balance of New Zealand’s tax system. The Government has now received the Group’s final report – the report is expected to be made public on 21 February 2019. For more information click here.
  • The Local Government (Community Well-being) Amendment Bill has had its first reading in Parliament. This Bill seeks to restore four aspects of community wellbeing in legislation (social, economic, environmental and cultural). For more information click here.
  • The Mental Health and Addiction Report has been released, the Government will formally respond in March. For more information click here.
  • The Government is considering the establishment of a sector-level bargaining system. This would enable unions and employers to develop Fair Pay Agreements that set minimum terms and conditions for all workers in an entire industry or occupation.The Government has established the Fair Pay Agreement Working Group to make recommendations on the design of this system. The Working Group has released its recommendations. For more information click here.
  • The Government has announced a review of the New Zealand Health and Disability Sector. An interim report is due by July 2019, and a final report by 31 January 2020. For more information click here.

To blog, or not to blog…

Here are the links to the latest ComVoices blogs on Community Scoop. We recommend a browsing through these blogs. They are fascinating reading as always…

Things to note before you go

Strategic Grants have been running a number of online and face to face training opportunities, teaching best-practice processes, strategies and skills required to successfully and sustainably access grants funding for projects. Learn more and book online here. The next event is:

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.

Photo: deeuutee