National’s Slash and Burn

Everywhere I turn, I hear horror stories of how the new Government is cutting funding to essential community services here in NZ. Adult Community Education, Enviroschools, NZAAHD, the National Youth Workers Network, Youthline, OUT THERE!, Te Reo Marama.. the list goes on. It seems that this new government’s strategy for dealing with a recession is to cut services to the young and vultnerable, who will be most affected by the financial crisis. The Alliance Party are calling this ‘social vandalism’, and I don’t think they’re far off.

Ironically, in a press release this month, Tariana Turia announced that

‘That the Government is committed to strengthening its community relationships and that it intends to put this into an agreement by the end of the year…

.. “This is an opportunity to define the relationship that the sector and government wish to have, based on mutual respect and trust. It will focus government agencies’ attention on areas where further effort is needed to strengthen relationships to achieve common goals,” Minister Turia said.”‘ (Source)

What a joke.

If the Government is serious about working more closely with the Community sector, they could start by listening to the uproar and disgust surrounding the funding cuts occuring across the country.

If Government is serious about engagement, they could listen to sector experts when developing their policy to ensure that it is based on evidence and best practice. Instead, they create boot camps to ‘deal with’ troubled young people without waiting for the results of the Social Services Select Committee on the efficacy of such camps, or listening to the advice of the Families Commission who said the camps would do little to reduce youth offending and in some cases might increase it. Meanwhile the pleas from youth development professionals for the funding to be spent on early intervention and prevention instead go unheard and unfunded. Let’s get real.. the boot camps were never anything more than a political charade, designed to create an impression during the election campaign that National would be tough on crime

National’s image of ‘we’re a party who likes to work with everyone’ may have helped them win the election, but there is little evidence so far it is anything more than talk. Here’s hoping the worst is over, but I’m not holding my breath.

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~ by humblemonkey on September 18, 2009.

One Response to “National’s Slash and Burn”

  1. How frustrating! These funding cuts sound awful; thanks for the peek into NZ politics.

    It seems leaders would recognize that early prevention or attacking root causes like poverty and other social injustices would be a wise investment to treat a problem as opposed to bandaging a problem with boot camps. I believe those have not been terribly successful here in the States. Hmmmm . . .

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