“Hard questions put to Ministers for Children and Social Development by PSNZ”.

Day in Town 2022

Day in Town 2022 for PSNZ National Council and Executives

Presbyterian Support New Zealand’s National Council, Chief Executives and Te Manukura o Te Roopū Pā Harakeke came together for their annual Day in Town in Wellington last month. This year the Day was transformed into a 3-day conference, so that Roopū members could provide two days of governance training on Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Council members noted the training, held on Day 1 and 2 of the conference, really set the tone for meetings with decision makers on the third Day.
The theme of Day in Town 2022 was “The rising need and rising complexity of need” with a focus on our Family Works services and programmes. Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Children Kelvin Davis and Chair of Oranga Tamariki’s Ministerial Advisory Board Matthew Tukaki all came for meetings.

Mr Tukaki’s presentation guided the Council’s strategic thinking on the importance of whanaungatanga with kaupapa Māori services, to network better in the interests of tangata whenua. As Dr Sanja Majstorovic, CEO for Presbyterian Support East Coast put it, Mr Tukaki’s “good knowledge of the process, technicalities and timelines helped show (us) a faith and vision of the kaupapa despite obstacles.”

Going forward, the wero Mr Tukaki put to National Council was twofold and should resonate throughout Presbyterian Support NZ: To honour Te Tiriti and broker meaningful partnerships with mana whenua, we must know and be capable of communicating all that we do for tamariki, taitamariki and their whānau; Then if we stocktake our relationships and capability to whanaungatanga with iwi, particularly our collaborations/partnerships with services on marae, the next steps still to take will reveal themselves.

This challenge was made relevant within the context of Minister Davis’ urgent need for inter-agency collaboration on prevention, and Minister Sepuloni’s excitement over the new “relational approach to social service commissioning”.

Minister Davis acknowledged the constraints among agencies in sharing information about whānau’s engagement with multiple services. His eyes were opened to Family Works’ positioning, holding so many local service contracts across government, serving vulnerable tamariki, young people, older people and whānau across Aotearoa. Going forward attendees realised more Leaders’ eyes need to be opened to the cultural, social and economic dividends that come from preventing state intervention and supporting children’s and young people’s resilience and social development in their community.

Councillors realised we have work to do as a stakeholder partner for Oranga Tamariki, to support and inform a whole of government approach to prevention.

Minister Sepuloni’s enthusiasm for MSD’s mahi implementing the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group was appreciated but tempered by attendees. As a national provider sharing many of the same clients to WINZ and other govt service agencies, attendees were eager to show the Minister our unique capabilities in delivering mana-enhancing services. The Minister asked for more ‘granular evidence’ and so PSUSI’s recent report “The Client Voice” was also shared with her. PSNZ will pursue opportunities to meet again with the Minister, to unpack these client experiences and how Family Works might support and inform service culture improvements across government, but particularly with WINZ service staff.

Day In Town 2022National Council aspires for PSNZ to be a more influential communicator of our experiential knowledge, of the impact of our programmes and our capability to scale up: from regional to regionally collaborative; from individual social services to addressing the whole of that individual’s household and whānau; and from there to initiatives that address whole communities and their development.

This aspiration is in keeping with Minister Sepuloni’s vision of a more relational approach between government and the social service providers they commission. The national data we keep on various ways we add value regionally as trusted service providers, needs to be collated and presented well so that it paints a national, holistic picture of all that we do and the networks we’re part of in local communities, for all our various government agency partners to better understand.

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