Bringing more Pacific voices to the table

Serena Curtis, the General Manager, Pacific and Community Capability Programmes for the Ministry of Social Development spoke to the Fono on the contribution the MSD was making to Te Aorerekura.

Ms Curtis started by using the example of COVID as a way of getting things done. While it wasn’t perfect, she said we all did ‘’incredibly well’’ to work together to support our Pacific people. During the pandemic we were able to get a lot of Pacific mobilisation and activities led by Pacific for Pacific and now we need to continue to build on these things.

Following on from COVID there have been the issues of flood and cyclone as well as social cohesion, youth crime and youth engagement, which were all challenges for Ms Curtis and her team to consider. We have been able to leverage off the work we did in COVID to ensure we continue to do right for Pacific.

Ms Curtis accepted that they were still very much at the beginning of their work. She said part of her team’s role is to work with other teams across MSD to ensure the Pacific voice was being heard, and Pacific engagement frameworks, endorsed by the communities were adopted.

She spoke to ensuring that her team is present in spaces to ensure our providers we partner with are reflective of the community we serve, and we are getting a good collection of Pacific voices.

‘’It’s not just about the tools, it’s about funding initiatives that are changing behaviour in our community”. She stressed the importance of whilst incubating initiatives, there is a need to ensure for those that are proven to improve outcomes, we explore sustainable funding pathways, so they can continue.

One of the aims of the team is to ensure they don’t fall into the habit of taking the easy option such as a one-size fits all approach and ensure ‘’ethnic specific’’ approaches are represented in our action plans to get away from predominantly pan-Pacific models of the past.

‘’We need Pacific voices to help us do our jobs. You need to tell us where we are going right and where it’s going wrong. We need to celebrate the wins, but also need to improve in areas that are not hitting the mark for our people.”

Ms Curtis ended the session with the following questions for Pacific providers to think about:

  1. What opportunities are there to work better with agency partners and each other to identify workforce development needs, strengths, and solutions?
  2. A real test for social sector commissioning is the ability of agency partners, organisations to be available for relationship building to achieve workforce developmental needs. How?


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