I would like to make the following comments with respect to the proposed Social Policy Forum on behalf of the Campbells Bay Residents and Ratepayers:
- We would encourage the Forum to focus beyond social "issues" and problem fixing (deficit models) to address social development and wellbeing across all of Auckland’s diverse communities.
- We would like to see central government priorities aligning with those of the Auckland Council and communities – not the other way around.
- We believe the Forum’s success will depend on effective collaborative relationships being built with communities and community groups. It will not, in our view, be effective if it relies on a chain of communication through Local Boards, Council and/or CCOs. We encourage the Minister and her officials to engage directly with regional communities to creatively explore the most appropriate and effective processes and mechanisms for community engagement and participation in the Social Policy Forum process.
- We recommend the involvement of other Government Ministers with key social wellbeing portfolios - especially Health, Education, Police, and Housing. The "buy-in" of these Ministers is critical to the success of co-ordinated social wellbeing dialogue, planning and resource allocation for Auckland.
- The inclusion of social principles into the vision, policy and action plans of all local and central Government arrangements is critical to shaping how the Forum will achieve its objectives. Decision making should be transparent, inclusive, collaborative and based on independent, practice-informed advice.
- There is an amazing volunteer resource in the existing social wellbeing infrastructure in Auckland and it must be encouraged and supported as it adapts to the new local government regime. It is most important that the new governance does not destroy any of the good work and good will that has been developed during the life of current local government setup.
- It is important to develop a medium to long term (10 year or so) plan underpinned with sound social development principles, but it is equally important to regularly review progress and learn/change/adapt as required to ensure the Forum and its work is effective and relevant. Key social measures should be established and reported against to communities and the public in general. We (Auckland) perform extremely badly on many international measures and we would expect the forum to target major improvement.
- We expect to see a process of Forum appointments that emphasises skills, demonstrated competence and understanding of social wellbeing issues and approaches, in balance with any geographical and/or demographic representation that may be deemed desirable. The forum must mix people with social wellbeing skills and knowledge with those who have the authority and ability to make things happen.
- To expand on a previous point, specific processes will need to be set up to enable a two way dialogue and information sharing between local communities and their Local Board, CCOs and Social Service providers (government and voluntary) in order to ensure that there is an effective mechanism for communicating local social issues/opportunities and developing strategic solutions. We are convinced that Local Boards will not be able, on their own, to provide an effective mode of funding or driving social development.