Te whakahoahoa ki ētahi atu kia tautoko i te nui haeretanga o te hiahia Partnering with others to help with growing demand

Our role as the lead social development agency is not just about delivering support for individuals – an important part of this role is building safe, strong and resilient communities. We listen to regions, communities, iwi and whānau on what their needs are and how we can support them to realise their long-term wellbeing goals. We provide funding to support this, sometimes directly and sometimes to other organisations that themselves work directly with and in communities to provide needed services.

Helping our communities respond to COVID-19

In 2020, through the Budget and the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, we received extra funding to ensure our partner agencies and local communities could help their communities respond to the lockdowns and begin recovery.

Specific areas of focus were community support and advice, elder abuse, and family violence and sexual violence. The funding has allowed us to establish and improve a range of services including:

  • supporting foodbanks, food rescue and other community organisations who are distributing food, as well as grants for communities to develop and implement plans for longer-term community food security – a total of 235 providers and communities have received funding, which has resulted in improved infrastructure and capability for providers and an increased quality and quantity of food being distributed to people experiencing food insecurity
  • strengthening the capability of social sector providers to respond to the increasing cost and demands caused by COVID-19
  • checking in regularly with iwi, Pacific communities, and sector organisations providing crisis response services, to assess demand and make sure they had the funding they needed
  • supporting Building Financial Capability services to:
    • help providers meet increased demand
    • give existing debt solution services greater access to debt specialists and support so they can engage with the sector and propose an ongoing national approach to address problem debt.

Adopting a high-trust model to deliver for communities more quickly

Working differently with our social sector partners, to help them deliver meaningful outcomes for their communities, is not just a consequence of the COVID-19 response – it has been a focus for some time.

We want to move away from directing action and setting objectives for communities towards working alongside and supporting our community and provider partners to achieve the best for their own communities.

We are moving towards a high-trust approach in supporting community partners. The COVID-19 national lockdown allowed us to fast-track this approach, and it is becoming part of the way we work with our partners.

An example of this is the quick implementation of Food Secure Communities grants through a simple and fast application process to support community food providers who had experienced increased demand as a result of COVID-19. Funding was available for immediate needs like restocking a foodbank, or longer-term food security projects such as planting a maara kai.

Improving the way we commission work from social sector providers

Social services in New Zealand play a vital role in supporting and furthering the wellbeing of our people and communities. There is an opportunity to improve how government agencies commission services from NGOs across the social sector to align with the Government’s wellbeing goals. We are co-leading a cross-agency work programme with Oranga Tamariki on improving how the social sector commissions services. Social sector agencies and sector representatives are engaged in this work.

In August 2020 we published an update on our work that included the following draft principles for improved commissioning:

  • individuals, families, whānau and communities exercise choice
  • Māori-Crown partnerships are at the heart of effective commissioning
  • the sector works together locally, regionally and nationally
  • the sector is sustainable
  • decisions and actions are taken transparently
  • the sector is always learning and improving.

The update also included ten key actions as the next steps in the work.

During the first half of 2021 we held targeted engagements with representatives from across the social sector. This gave us a deeper understanding of what was needed to make lasting improvements to commissioning.

Later in 2021 we will seek decisions from Ministers on a foundational shift in the way that government agencies, providers and communities work together to commission social services.

Building resilient rural communities

It is important that rural and provincial communities can access the same level of support as those in urban areas, and that this support is tailored to their unique needs. This year we boosted funding to service providers in rural and provincial communities.

In 2020 we published current and future state reports summarising the findings of the 2019/20 review of Heartland and Information and Advisory Services. The reports highlighted that Heartland Services are valued face-to-face services that use a ‘one-stop shop’ model that offers community members the opportunity to be connected with government and social services, and to meet face-to-face with representatives from those agencies. Over the next two years we will review Heartland Services with the aim of improving and extending their effectiveness.