The community sector is an essential part of a healthy thriving society. From housing and health to emergency support and everything in-between, the community sector plays a critical role in individual family, whānau and community wellbeing.

But many in the community sector are operating under severe financial strain. And this strain is having a real impact on the ability of community organisations to meet the needs of people in their community.

The funding issue is critical and one that we’re pushing. Our approach to tackling the issue is twofold. First we talk with Government about the issues, and we will keep the pressure on until we see change. But another strand of work is crucial. And that’s growing understanding about the community sector, both with decision-makers, and the public. When people understand what the community sector does and its important role, it helps to increase pressure for change – and it makes it harder for politicians to turn away and ignore the funding crisis. We’re currently exploring how we can do this. But one thing is certain, the severe underfunding of the community sector cannot continue.

SociaLink is a member of Community Networks Aotearoa (CNA), they are the umbrella organisation for local community networks throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. Our goal is to empower and strengthen the community sector by supporting community networks across Aotearoa.

Recently we heard that Oranga Tamariki social workers and Government have reached a pay equity settlement. This is wonderful news, the contribution of social workers cannot be overstated. However, my mind turns to social workers in the NGO sector, with many NGOs struggling to get by, the risk is that the pay of their social workers (and indeed others!) will slip further and further behind, making it hard for the sector to retain much needed people.

A solution must be found.