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Have your say: ComVoices Covid-19 and State of the Sector survey 2020

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
23 June 2020

Community and voluntary organisations are urged to take part in the biennial ComVoices State of the Sector survey.

The survey provides vital information about the wellbeing of our community organisations which then helps ComVoices advocate effectively on your behalf.  We could not have begun to imagine what has transpired over the last few months.  Covid-19 has meant new ways of working and changed the landscape for our community organisations.

“We are keen to see what has changed in the past two years and the impact of Covid-19. How are community organisations faring and what might that mean for the people of New Zealand?” says ComVoices chair Chris Glaudel.

In an election year it’s more important than ever that politicians and decision-makers understand the value of the work we do for community around New Zealand.

The 2020 ‘State of the Sector’ report will include comparative data from earlier surveys and a commentary on current issues and trends facing the sector.

ComVoices invites all community sector organisations to add their voice to the survey, which can be accessed via this link

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ComVoicesSurvey

The survey will close 5pm, 20 July 2020. 

ENDS

For more information, please contact ComVoices Chair Chris Glaudel at 027 462 0605 or at projects@communityhousing.org.nz.

Six political parties discuss their support for the community and voluntary sector

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

11 June 2020

Yesterday, a webinar brought together six Members of Parliament and political party members to discuss their policies, priorities and responses to the needs and challenges of Aotearoa’s community and voluntary sector.

“There’s no doubt over the last couple of months, the absolute value of the community sector has been demonstrated in a very visceral, very genuine, heartfelt and appreciated way,” says Hon Poto Williams, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector and Labour Party representative.

Jan Logie, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Justice and Green Party representative, acknowledged that “Central Government relies 100 per cent on our community networks and organisations to be able to deliver on our policy agendas. That reality is not properly recognised yet.”

Discussion around the difficulty of gaining sufficient funding for the community sector occurred. The primary ask from the community sector is the re-establishment of an Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector which was absorbed into the Department of Internal Affairs in 2011. The community sector believes this will improve the sector being viewed as an equal partner across government and will open opportunities to better guide policy and budgetary decision-making for the sector. 

Hon Tracey Martin, Minister for Children, Internal Affairs and Seniors and NZ First representative, talked about the current impossibility of the community sector gaining sufficient funding from annual government budgetary rounds. This was primarily due to the decision-making being located within a government department. She said that the community sector currently isn’t recognised as having the level of mana required within government to advocate for a complete change to the funding system.

Geoff Simmons, The Opportunities Party representative, talked about the biggest barrier for the community sector being the top-down mindset of government. “We design everything in ivory towers and then send it down to community groups to deliver,” Simmons explained.

“[The community sector] is not being heard by the government and they don’t feel that the government understands the issues that they face day-to-day and [therefore are] not taking their policy decisions on-board,” said Brooke van Velden, ACT Party representative.

“We’re all saying the same thing – that we need a systems change – and we all agree with that,” said Alfred Ngaro, National Party representative. “Our NGO and our voluntary sector are the backbone of our country but in order for that to be recognised, we have to realise that part of the systems change, the thinking change, is that social development is not separate from economic development,” Ngaro said.

Watch the full discussion online: https://bit.ly/2AWslna. A summary of the discussions will be published next week.

The webinar was co-hosted by Hui E! Community Aotearoa, ComVoices, Sue Barker Charities Law, and Trust Democracy, and facilitated by Rawdon Christie. Sponsored by the Todd Foundation.

ENDS

For more information, please contact:

Rochelle Stewart-Allen
Pou Kaiārahi (General Manager) 
Hui E! Community Aotearoa
Phone: 027 36 38 665
rochelle@huie.org.nz

What does a thriving community and voluntary sector look like as we move into a post-pandemic era?

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Elections matter and are a good opportunity to engage directly with those who make the decisions which impact the wellbeing of our society.  The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the inequalities which have festered far too long. Now is the time to shape a new way forward which provides as much focus on our social, cultural and environmental needs as the economic obsessions of the past.

Hui E! Community Aotearoa, ComVoices, Sue Barker Charities Law and Trust Democracy are bringing together Members of Parliament and political party members to tell us about their party’s vision and planned policies to support a thriving and sustainable sector. The kōrero will be a free webinar moderated by a political commentator and there will be time for questions from the audience.  As an on-line webinar, you can participate from wherever you live or work.  Please join us and make your voice heard!

Webinar: Educating political parties to help the community sector

When: Wednesday 10 June, 4pm-5.30pm

Where: Online (Zoom)

Who:  Confirmed speakers are Poto Williams (Labour), Jan Logie (Greens), Tracey Martin (NZ First), Alfred Ngaro (National), Brooke van Velden (Act) and Geoff Simmons (TOP)

Grab your webinar ticket here to receive the link – Sign up for a free ticket.

You can also keep up to date with the latest information and join the conversation on the webinar Facebook event page where we encourage people to join now to initiate discussion around the most important issues to be focused on during the webinar.

A good guide to what may be in store can be gleaned from what the parties have suggested their priorities will be at the last election.  Have a read of this short summary of Community & Voluntary sector party policies from 2017 in advance to understand the promises unfulfilled.

We gratefully acknowledge the Todd Foundation for their support of this webinar.

Have your say: ComVoices State of the Sector survey 2020

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Our work in the community and voluntary sector is needed more than ever with the pressures on individuals and whānau in our communities – and in an election year we want to be able to clearly say what we do and how our sector makes a difference to the lives of so many New Zealanders.

The information we gather from the biennial ComVoices State of the Sector survey tells us about the wellbeing of our community organisations, which we can then weave into our conversations with politicians and other decision-makers. It’s very much a case of ‘news you can use’.

Please take some time to complete the survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ComVoices2020

Your response will be anonymous, and it might be helpful to have your financial information handy before you begin.  As all responses will be anonymous we cannot remove duplicate entries and ask that each organisation fills out the survey only once.

The survey is open until 5pm, 31 March 2020. We’ll then analyse the responses and report back to you in May 2020.

Please share the survey with organisations in your network

Any questions, please feel free to contact ComVoices by email at admin@comvoices.org.nz

Community and voluntary organisations continue to make a difference in our communities

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Media release

12 December 2019 – For immediate use

Community and voluntary organisations continue to make a difference in our communities

The country’s community and voluntary organisations are delivering services where they matter – to New Zealanders in need – even as they continue to grapple with a number of significant challenges.

That’s one of the key findings from a survey of community and voluntary sector organisations carried out by their network ComVoices (https://comvoices.org.nz). The survey is carried out biennially to provide a snapshot of how community organisations are faring.

ComVoices Chair Chris Glaudel says community and voluntary organisations provide many essential social services to individuals and whānau in communities around New Zealand.

“We help people and their communities flourish, often in the face of some tough times, and we’re proud of the contribution our member organisations are making to the wellbeing of this country,” he says.

“At the same time, there’s no doubt that we’re operating in an increasingly complex environment with some challenges around funding and other resourcing, and we’re working with people who often have high or complex needs, and in communities that can really do with a hand.

“We’re continually adapting to the requirements of the environment we’re in as we’re committed to providing valuable social services to our communities, while continuing to advocate for more resources with the people able to make these decisions.”

The main survey findings include:

Service delivery

  • 69 percent of organisations report more people are using their services than two years ago (65 percent in 2016), but only 31.5 percent (34 percent in 2016) have more staff than two years ago.
  • 5 percent are doing more work than specified in contracts (68 percent in 2016).
  • The needs of clients and the community are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, service provision is becoming more challenging and time-intensive.

Financial pressures

  • 34 percent of organisations were unable to offer staff a wage increase in the last two years (42 percent in 2016).
  • One organisation is facing closure and 10 are worried about their financial viability. Nearly half the organisations are struggling to make ends meet – an increase from 33 percent in 2016.
  • Half the organisations are using their reserves to help fund service delivery, and half of those will only be able to sustain this for one more year or less.
  • The sector is highly reliant on grants, donations and central government funding. Nearly 45 percent of respondents are seeking to support themselves by generating their own income.

Organisational pressures

  • The sector continues to undergo restructuring, with 44 percent of organisations saying they have restructured in the past two years. Restructuring is often carried out to change or improve the way an organisation works, or to improve its financial position.
  • Half the organisations say the specifications in their government contracts have changed significantly over the past two years. This can result in additional compliance requirements and costs, without additional funding.
  • Forty percent of organisations say the contract changes have not benefitted them.

A full list of ComVoices members is available at https://comvoices.org.nz/about-us/#who.

ENDS

For more information, please contact ComVoices Chair Chris Glaudel at 027 462 0605 or at projects@communityhousing.org.nz.

Have your say: ComVoices State of the Sector Survey 2018

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ComVoices biennial survey on the state of the community and voluntary sector in New Zealand is now open. First run in 2014 and then again in 2016, the survey has become a key source of information about the wellbeing of community organisations working across a broad range of community issues and interests.

Previous reports show the sector is under increasing strain with reducing or static funding, increasing complexity of client and community issues, and challenges managing the impact of increasing compliance and contracting expectations.

“We are keen to see what has changed in the past two years. How are community organisations faring and what might that mean for the people of New Zealand?” says ComVoices chair Nicola Sutton.

The reports from the first two surveys were widely used by sector organisations and ComVoices to talk to members of parliament and government agencies. Sutton says that ComVoices is dependent on the sector providing the data and so encourages community organisations of all shapes and sizes to complete the survey. “We need data from local groups run by volunteers and local fundraising just as much as we need data from larger organisations with paid staff and government contracts,” says Sutton.

The 2018 ‘State of the Sector’ report, due to be published early 2019, will include comparative data from earlier surveys and a commentary on current issues and trends facing the sector.

ComVoices invites all community sector organisations to add their voice to the Survey, which can be accessed via this link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ComVoices2018

The survey should take 10 – 13 minutes to complete.

The survey will close 5pm, 19 November 2018

 

MSD review doesn’t resolve the client data problems

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An independent report released today into a recent data breach at MSD shows the problems created by a project with an unrealistic timeframe being imposed on a complex and sensitive area.

ComVoices is pleased to learn that no personal data was mistakenly released but the report details a series of mistakes and inadequacy.

ComVoices chair Brenda Pilott said that these errors were symptomatic of the implementation of this project to require community providers to collect and share personal information with MSD.  “We have said from the outset that this process was being rushed and was not affording MSD time to consider all the issues.  Nor have they engaged well with providers and other experts.”

ComVoices has consistently advised the department and Minister to slow down.  “The timeframe for this project was self-imposed and coincided with a period of major restructuring within MSD.  No wonder mistakes were made”, said Brenda Pilott.

“The Privacy Commissioner made four recommendations to MSD and its Minister, of which data security was just one.  The other recommendations have not been addressed yet.  Privacy considerations must be looked at carefully.  Neither we nor MSD can give providers any reassurance that they can provide this sensitive data to MSD with full trust and confidence.”

Brenda Pilott said: “My message to MSD is to slow down and to engage with provider groups in a co-design process.  This is too important to get wrong again.”

For further information, contact Brenda Pilott on 027 430 6016.

ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations.

ComVoices.org.nz

 

MSD IT Enquiry Not Enough

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The announcement of an enquiry into the privacy failure of MSD’s online reporting platform for community organisations required to provide individual client data (ICLD) addresses only one of the Privacy Commissioner’s four recommendations, says ComVoices.

“The just announced enquiry is deflecting us from the real question”, said Trevor McGlinchey, ComVoices Spokesperson.  “The question at the heart of the enquiry should be why are we collecting data that the Privacy Commissioner has said is ‘…excessive, disproportionate to government’s legitimate needs and therefore inconsistent with the privacy principles’?”.

“The staff of social services organisations have a range of professional bodies which provide ethical guidelines about maintaining the privacy of clients.  Not only will these organisations be breaking these ethical guidelines, they will also be forced to work in direct contravention of the Privacy Commissioner’s findings.”

At the moment service providers have been told they must continue to collect the private data of their clients to provide to MSD at a future date.  They have not been told who will be held to account for breaking the privacy principles set out in the Privacy Act.

“The community sector is waiting for leadership from the Minister and MSD about the important issues raised in the Privacy Commissioner’s report,” says McGlinchey.  “This mass collection of data is inappropriate and will directly affect many New Zealand families. This level of surveillance will cause others not to seek help so that they do not become labelled as ‘vulnerable’ and included as a named statistic on a government database. As always the NGO sector is happy to work alongside MSD to find a more appropriate solution to their data needs.”

ComVoices is calling on the Government to put an immediate hold on this policy while it addresses the issues raised by the Privacy Commissioner.

Contact Trevor McGlinchey, ComVoices Spokesperson, phone 027 286 9393

NGOs Disappointed in the Minister’s Response to Privacy Report

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“While there is some relief that after the failure of MSD’s private data portal, Minister Tolley has put the reporting of clients’ private data on hold for a few months, NGOs are very frustrated with the Minister’s response to the Privacy Commissioner’s report on the collection of individual Client Data”, said Trevor McGlinchey, ComVoices Spokesperson. “The determination to push ahead with MSD collecting this sensitive data in the face of the Privacy Commissioners Report and the failure of the MSD information portal demonstrate that we should be holding off on implementing this process and a more effective way of demonstrating the value of social services should be developed’.

The Privacy Commissioner recommended that MSD should put consider alternative methods for accomplishing its goals such as having the information collated and analysed by Statistics New Zealand in the Integrated Data Infrastructure.  “The members of the ComVoices networks fully support this proposal and stand ready to work with the Minister, MSD and the Ministry for Children to make this work”.

“We are now in the very difficult position of being expected to sign MSD contracts that are out of step with the Privacy Commissioner’s findings.  It is difficult to see how we can do this in good faith and we have real concerns about the liability we might be opening ourselves up to.”

“We urge the Minister and her officials to match good intentions with good practice and listen and take action on the advice they have been given.”

Contact Trevor McGlinchey, ComVoices Spokesperson, phone 027 286 9393

Privacy Commissioner’s Report Welcomed by Social Service Organisations

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“ComVoices welcomes the Privacy Commissioner’s report on Individual Client Level Data and endorses the recommendations, particularly the preferred option that MSD should consider alternative methods for accomplishing its goals”, said Trevor McGlinchey, ComVoices Spokesperson. “These recommendations are directly in line with the advice provided by ComVoices members to MSD and to Minister Tolley”.

“It is very important the families and individuals seeking support from community service providers can trust that their rights to privacy will not be breached and that no harm or misuse could result in the use of their personal information. This encourages early access to support and allows vulnerable families to grow into independence rather than being forced to hide their problems for fear that this information will be used against them or publicly shared”.

“Earlier, more direct engagement with providers of social services could have prevented the current situation arising.  We have repeatedly offered to support MSD to develop alternative data gathering systems so they could better understand the high value of social services organisations and how these make a real difference for vulnerable people and communities”.

“The reported breakdown of the system proposed by MSD to collect the private information of social service clients illustrates the need for a more effective and better protected data system. It is evident that good governance and principles need to be developed across the public sector to support a coherent approach to the collection and analysis of relevant data. Community and iwi social services providers want to demonstrate the  value and effectiveness of their services to all stakeholders, but not to the detriment of their clients.  We welcome the support shown by the Privacy Commissioner for the expertise of Statistics NZ, which protects individual data within both legislative and ethical frameworks whilst delivering valuable data for analytics and research”.

“The establishment of the Ministry of Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki means a large proportion of government funded community services move to this new Ministry, however many services stay with MSD and Work and Income . The new Ministry is committed to working in partnership with community social service providers,  we see this as an opportunity for a fresh start. Social services want to work collaboratively with government to support them to understand the huge value of the services they receive for their $330million a year investment”.

“ComVoices looks forward to engaging with the Minister of Children, social sector government ministries, the office of the Privacy Commission and the Government Chief Information Officer to develop ethical, high trust systems that respect an individual’s choice in sharing their personal data and can report on the effectiveness of social services”.

Contact Trevor McGlinchey, ComVoices Spokesperson, phone 0272 286 9393