What you’ve told us and what we’re doing
Thank you to those of you who have let us know what you see as the key issues we can approach central government about to seek their support. The key issues that have been identified are:
- Family violence/child abuse
- Fragmentation of social services.
Family violence/child abuse
It was noted that central government is investing and making changes in the way they address family violence and child abuse, locally Tauranga Moana Abuse Prevention (TMAPS) are holding a Ripple Effect conference in May 2020 which will focus on child abuse prevention. SociaLink are happy to facilitate engagement with central government to progress whatever recommendations come out of the conference.
SociaLink has invited the Child Poverty Action Group to visit Tauranga in February 2020 to meet with the social sector and let us know about the issues they are working on and to see if there is interest in establishing a regional child poverty network which SociaLink would be happy to support. We are also supporting work Social Service Providers Aotearoa is doing to lobby government on the back of their research on the funding gap for social service providers of $630 million.
Fragmentation of services
SociaLink is supporting a number of organisations to work together to achieve greater impact. This includes Co-Lab in Te Puke, organisations providing services to people who are homeless, organisations that work with people with autism and organisations working together in relation to food supply, called Kai Western Bay. We are also working with social service providers to explore the feasibility of establishing a centralised hub to deliver services in the areas of family harm and older people. We are also in the process of establishing a network for Māori providers. Work is also being undertaken to assess the feasibility for some kind of entity that would enable community organisations to access shared back office services, what this space!
If you have other ideas of how SociaLink can help address the above issues please let us know, contact Liz Davies, General Manager firstname.lastname@example.org or 022 461 9104.
2020 and beyond
I’m pleased to announce the establishment of a Community Insights Laboratory (CIL) following the feasibility study to determine the need for such a facility, for which there was a lot of interest. The Community Insights Lab aims to make available ‘big data’ or any kind of data to help inform decision making and planning for the community and social sectors. We are very excited to have employed Liz Flaherty who is starting in mid-January 2020 to do more detailed planning for the CIL, build relationships with holders of data and start using data to help the sector. Many of you will know Liz Flaherty, she has extensive experience in the social sector, particularly in the area of family harm, including being an experienced researcher.
Pay equity campaign
Following local research into pay equity, or the lack there of, for workers employed by non-government organisations and at the request of the social sector, SociaLink is going to embark on a campaign to raise local community awareness and to lobby central government. For example, social workers being paid on average $30,000 per year less than their colleagues in government is not just very unfair, it has significant impacts on the recruitment and retention of workers.
Legalisation of cannabis
Most of you would see the impact of cannabis on your clients and our communities. To help inform the public and the sector in voting on the referendum we plan to hold a forum to hear the pro’s and con’s for the legalisation of the personal use of cannabis.
Central Government elections
It doesn’t seem that long ago that we had the 2017 elections but yes, it’s coming around again. SociaLink will hold a local candidates forum so you can hear directly from candidates and ask questions. We will also let you know political parties positions on key issues impacting on the social sector to help you make informed voting choices that have a considerable impact on the people you provide services to and of course how social services are funded.
I wish you all a very meri kirihimete with whanau and friends and a very well deserved break to recharge the batteries after a very busy year, be safe and look after yourself and enjoy your whanau and friends.
I have been wracking my brain about how Socialink can best tautoko or support our Muslim community at this horrific time.
Tears well up regularly and I expect they will for some time as I hear the stories emerging of what happened and how people and communities are responding to what has happened.
We cannot deny that there is an under current of hate and discrimination in our communities, whether that be targeted at Māori, LTGTBQIA community, Muslim, Jewish, the list goes on and it exists here in the western Bay of Plenty.
Events such as what happened on the 15th of March emerge from this dangerous under current and must be challenged.
These are hard conversations to have and this is, I think, how SociaLink can contribute, not just now but for years to come. Let me start today.
I am a Pakeha, middle aged (hard to face up to but true L), middle class, heterosexual woman which is a common demographic group in the workforce of the social sector. By virtue of being born into a middle class Pakeha family I have benefited from the colonisation of Aotearoa and being a part of the dominant Pakeha culture.
I have benefited from and had access to New Zealand’s schools and health services and have not experienced discrimination because of my race or sexuality. Not only this, the schools and health services are delivered according to my cultural frame of reference and at a cost that was affordable to a middle class family.
This is not the case for most Māori who still suffer from the impact of colonisation, including being the victim of terrorist events in the 1800’s. Māori and other minority groups have not had the same level of access to education and health delivered in a way that understands and reflects their culture nor in a way that is affordable. They have also suffered as a result of systemic and unconscious discrimination. The suicide rates, high levels of incarceration and poorer health outcomes are a testament to this.
So what do I do. For a start I own and acknowledge my privilege and do whatever I can to redress the power imbalance. I continue to learn and will continue to do so for the rest of my life about Aotearoa’s history, te Ao Māori , te reo Māori as well as about other minority groups and use any opportunity to raise awareness. The more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know, like peeling an onion, as I learn about one layer I discover ever more layers. I think this alone is one of the most important things that we can do, the dark under current of discrimination and hate thrive in ignorance which then cultivates fear.
I do my best to pronounce Māori names correctly. I challenge discriminatory views or acts whenever I hear or become aware of them.
As I go on this journey, I can assure you I don’t get it right all of the time, it’s a work in progress. I would like to thank my friends and colleagues who take the time to teach and advise me about their culture and their experiences so I can better understand life from their perspective.
I challenge you to reflect on and think about how you expose, challenge and ultimately eliminate the under current here in the western Bay of Plenty. I challenge us to think about how we tap into the huge outpourings of aroha at the moment and foster this so it remains and becomes our ‘new normal’.
Haere Mai to our new staff members!
Liz Stewart has taken on the role of Research, Policy and Advocacy Advisor, Liz brings decades of experience in undertaking social research, particularly in drugs and alcohol and mental health. Please contact Liz if you want to access the findings from the Mapping the Social Sector project, assistance with undertaking, using or accessing research or in undertaking advocacy on issues close to your heart email@example.com.
Anneke Grogan has started an internship with SociaLink as part of her degree in Health and Society, Psychology and Physiology and Health Management and is assisting Liz Stewart in her work. It’s great to be able to offer a student an opportunity to learn about and contribute to the social sector.
Dale Johnson is taking on the role of Māori Engagement Advisor in late June to help SociaLink build relationships with Māori social service providers, iwi and hapu and look for opportunities to add value to the great work of Māori providers. Dale brings a lot of experience in the social sector, particularly the disability sector, strong networks with local iwi and hapu and a passion for improving Māori social outcomes. To contact Dale email Dale@socialink.org.nz.
Mapping the Social Sector
On the back of the launch of the Mapping the Social Sector findings we are out and about sharing the findings with the social sector via presentations to local networks , funders and stakeholders to encourage discussions and find ways to enhance the social sector. Get in touch with me if you would like SociaLink to present the findings to your organisation or network.
We are delighted that we are getting requests for organisations wanting to use the findings, please contact Liz Stewart if you want to access the findings.
We are diving deeper into the findings, in particular looking in more detail about sub sectors e.g. health, disability, Māori providers etc. As this information becomes available we will post them on our website.
Ever thought about the link between trees and improved health and wellbeing?
Research recently released of 50,000 New Zealand children suggests that living in greener areas with more exposure to native plants and a wider variety of vegetation may reduce the risk of being asthmatic. A report by Toi Te Ora – Public Health Services identify many more social, health and educational benefits of living near trees and plants. Read the research https://www.ttophs.govt.nz/vdb/document/1973
Our friends in the environmental sector, Envirohub, are obviously tree huggers and have many trees available for you too to embrace. Got room for a tree, a space to plant trees to realise the many benefits of trees? Don’t have space? Envirohub will find space to plant them. Go to Envirohub’s website https://envirohub.org.nz/buy-tree/ to purchase Pohutukawa trees for the low price of $11.50 per tree.