Media Releases

Have your say: ComVoices State of the Sector survey 2020

By | Media Releases | No Comments

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

By | Media Releases | No Comments

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

By | Media Releases | No Comments

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

By | Media Releases | No Comments

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

By | Media Releases | No Comments

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

Reports On Events

Snap, Crackle and Pop – a report on the first of the ComVoices Breakfast series

By | Reports On Meetings And Events | No Comments

The background

Recently, ComVoices hosted the first of a series of breakfast events that aspire to create a new kind of relationship between Parliamentarians and the community sector, through wānanga style breakfasts that explore areas of mutual interest. We hope that through shared learning, we can build a different kind of conversation and relationship between our sector and MPs.

ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. Collectively we represent a vast and diverse range services that span Aotearoa’s breadth and support communities across the country. We’re a broad network, and as a network we work to our many strengths, collaborating in the knowledge that we each bring something important from our sphere within the wider sector to the table. We identify issues of common interest, share insights and work to make great things happen.

Late last year we canvased the idea with around 20 Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum. With resounding support from the crew we spoke to at a conceptual level, we planned a first breakfast with a special guest, some evidence about our current state, and some co-design of topics for further events. Poto Williams, a fabulous Assistant Speaker of the House, agreed to host. ComVoices members invited along people who are delivering services on the ground. And early one morning in very late March, with the first real southerly of the year blowing cold round the Beehive, we gathered for kai and kōrero and talked about what awesomeness would look like in the relationship between the sector and Parliament.

What we talked about

People talked about busting silos, more information flowing between the buildings of government and the community sector, relationships rather than transactions. Everyone present wanted a better understanding between decisionmakers and the people delivering on the ground, based on open, honest, trusted and interactive relationships.

There was also a common desire to establish personal and professional connections, and through these connections generate what is needed to permanently change the conditions for New Zealanders for the better- rather than fixes shaped by the electoral cycle. Breakfasters wanted to be equal partners in a cohesive system, for the system to create shared solutions and participatory and accessible modes of communication.

The road map for future breakfasts

Having outlined what awesome would look like, there was even more snap crackle and pop as we designed a road map through topics for exploration at future breakfasts. A collection of these, in no particular order, follow:

  • Taking a community sector topic – like mental health or homelessness – and analysing it from a wellbeing perspective, using the living standards framework that Treasury have published in draft form
  • Creating conversations around ‘tricky’ issues and work it through to the point of action
  • The contracting/commissioning landscape for services across the country
  • What’s the shape of leadership in the sector?
  • Hearing the voices of the sector- being heard
  • A session focused on young people…

This last suggestion is the first one we’ll be picking up – ComVoices are cooking up a special breakfast where young people working in our sector will give their views of the future of our democracy, our economy and our communities.

Watch this space!

Meeting with James Shaw Greens Co-Leader

By | Reports On Meetings And Events | No Comments

ComVoices briefed James Shaw on key issues from the State of the Sector Survey 2016.  He was told that the sector is not averse to change, streamlining, identifying  need and demonstrating outcomes, but the sector is finding it difficult to engage with Government – the rhetoric is separate from the reality. In the lead –up to the general election, James said that the Greens will be focussing on inequality, the environment and structural elements in the economy.  James’ view was that people don’t vote on policy, and so the Greens will be focussing on the Green’s vision, values and social identity.

Parliamentary Breakfast

By | Reports On Meetings And Events | No Comments

Parliamentary Breakfast – Shreya Basu, Open Government Partnership Regional Civil Society coordinator for Asia Pacific

Grant Robertson, MP for Wellington Central hosted this parliamentary breakfast for guest speaker Shreya Basu. Her topic was NZ and the Open Government Partnership – what should you know, and why should you care?  More than 80 people attended the event which was generously sponsored by the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, Victoria University (IGPS).

Meeting with the Hon Peter Dunne, Minister for Internal Affairs

By | Reports On Meetings And Events | No Comments

A productive meeting was held with the Minister who fundamentally agreed with the two propositions that ComVoices wanted to discuss: the establishment of a more formal relationship with Government; and the potential for a Social Values Act (SVA) similar to the UK model. The Minister thought that some form of accord or standing agreement could be developed that spelt out the levels of responsibility between the sector and Government.  He said that ComVoices needs to form a good relationship with the Government through the Minister of Finance who is thinking about where we go in the long term.  If we were able to get the Minister’s engagement then we would get traction on our concerns.

Meeting with Marama Fox, Maori Party

By | Reports On Meetings And Events | No Comments

Ms Fox said that the party combines strategically with the Hon Peter Dunne and David Seymour.  On many things the three parties differ, but on the legislation and issues they agree on, they work together and can wield significant influence.  Topics discussed with Marama were: influencing Government, prioritisation to the neediest to prevent people becoming vulnerable and how to make ComVoices heard with Government. At present, Government sees the sector as “Government Providers” working in its own interest.  It does not recognise the sector’s purpose and mission and that perception has to be changed.

Meeting with David Seymour, Leader of ACT NZ

By | Reports On Meetings And Events | No Comments

Views were shared around the funding relationship with government, the British social value act, the relationship with Government, how to build on our shared interests, public advocacy, and the case for sector umbrella groups. While holding only one seat, David said ACT could leverage off that and that in the future, ACT will grow substantially putting it in a better position to make more demands of government. In closing David said he has limited capacity, but we are always welcome to write and we will certainly get a reply.

Meeting with Andrew Little and Poto Williams

By | Reports On Meetings And Events | No Comments

Meeting with Andrew Little, Leader of the Labour Party and Poto Williams, Community and Voluntary Sector spokesperson

Topics covered in the meeting were the funding relationship with Government, a more formal relationship with government, gender remuneration inequality in the C&V sector and the two current bills affecting the sector – the Policing (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill and Public Collections and Solicitations (Disclosure of Payment) Bill.  Poto assured the meeting that the sector can feed its thoughts on current issues and policies to her as the coming year is about developing the relationship and ComVoices has the opportunity to influence Labour’s thinking.