Is Whanau Ora’s Pasifika Futures community consultation a ‘charade’?
A number of Pacific community providers in Wellington are concerned the Pasifika Futures approach to consulting Pacific communities is a charade.
The Pacific commissioning agency for Whanau Ora was appointed by the government in March to “support Pasifika families on a path to a brighter future”. It aims to do that by working with regionally based providers across New Zealand to tailor support services to individual Pasifika families and communities.
The core of its work is based around a customized family-centred approach that recognises the best solutions for Pasifika come from within Pasifika families themselves.
It is why a three-month consultation phase at the beginning of its roll-out is key “to increase understanding of their [Pasifika] needs and the best ways to deliver services,” CEO Debbie Sorensen said in a statement
Therefore, the quality of the ‘community consultations’ is crucial to ensure data from which to develop baselines are based on what the Pasifika communities and families say and not on preconceived ideas or theories Pasifika Futures or its consultants may have.
However, late yesterday, Pacific Guardians received calls from Wellington providers and community stakeholders alarmed the Pasifika Futures consultation are set to take place tomorrow and Thursday, yet they have no information to prepare for such an important event.
“Proper consultation is an agreed process where all parties turn up properly prepared with a full understanding of what they are going to be consulted over,” said Sione from Naenae.
“In consultations, no one party is to dictate to the other. There is an agreed process and agreed time because we need time to discuss and formulate our views and opinions about this very important program for our communities. Getting this email invitation a day out from the consultation tells me something doesn’t smell right.”
The schedule obtained by Pacific Guardians show consultations started yesterday in Invercargill, Christchurch later today, Porirua and Hutt Valley tomorrow with the final set in Auckland by 17 April.
Another Pacific Guardians source said the email invitation had no documentation, only a blurb.
“This is a pattern used by similar groups in the past to ensure the least number of people turnout, and those who do, have no background information so they are there just to make up the numbers,” the source said.
“For us, these consultations are not meetings to just turn up, hear and discuss without background information. Otherwise they just leaves us open to be driven to where others want the consultation to go and the danger there is that when the report is delivered it will say we have been consulted when in actual fact the views presented do not necessarily reflect our views.
“If that is how Pasifika Futures is looking to run the consultations then the whole process is a farce. It’ll be a charade and we, the Pacific community, end up being the butt of a sick joke.
“What is worse is that the data will be distorted to fit the agenda of those driving the consultation, so the programs that will be developed will be distorted because they will be based on flawed data.”
The email sent out [dated 8 April] started off with an apology.
“Firstly I must apologise on behalf of the host Pasifika Futures for the extreme lateness of this notice.
“At the same time, I hope that you will be able attend this very important consultation for Hutt Valley residents to find out more about the new Pacific Whanauora Commissioning Agency. The Hutt Valley Pacific fono or Talanoa as Pasifika Futures referred to is schedule for Thursday 10 April, 2014, 2-4pm at the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Lower Hutt (aka EFKS Lower Hutt), 37 Mitchell Street Epuni Lower Hutt.
Please refer to the blurb below for further information about the purpose of the Talanoaga. All Pacific families in the Hutt Valley are invited. I appreciate if you can also circulate this notice to all your contacts.
It is this approach to “consultation” that is a concern especially as Ms Sorenson said in the Pasifika Futures media statement, “Our priority is to harness the capacity and power of Pasifika networks, culture and communities. Pasifika Futures will encourage innovative solutions to issues faced by families based on local knowledge and experience.”
Labour’s Pacific spokesperson Su’a William Sio raised the same concerns regarding the issue of proper consultation.
“Unless the wider Pasifika communities are involved, not just clinicians, but also community organisations, church groups, big boys and big girls exercise programmes, schools – in the delivery phase, then we are only just focused on outputs and not the required outcomes of Pasifika well-being and quality of living for the Pasifika communities,” he told Pacific Guardians.
Other outstanding issues he wanted addressed, “Is the way Pasifika people are being treated by the Health system, about how information is given or promoted to Pasifika people and in what language?
“We still haven’t heard how the Government intends to stop the inhumane treatment that was experienced by young pregnant mothers at Middlemore Hospital.
“So how will this model engage with the mainstream health providers, like Middlemore, to lift their cultural competency and ensure people are treated with the dignity and respect they are entitled to.”
There were also concerns about the process government used to appoint Pacific Futures.
“The announcement was rushed because the government wanted to be seen as doing something for Pasifika with the elections just around the corner,” he said.
“Not many of us were aware of the process that appointed Pasifika Futures to the role, and there was no mention of money from the government.”
As a result, Su’a labeled the government move as, “Pork barrel politics, where we’ve been given the wheelbarrow, but we’ve yet to see the pork.”
In terms of the “pork”, he said the Whanau Ora model will require significant financial resourcing. He estimates the figure should be in the vicinity of $70million over four years.
“With Pasifika estimated at 7 per cent of the national population, it is not unreasonable to expect 7 per cent of the $1.6 Billion that was budgeted in 2013. That translates to $70 million over four years.”
The figure is not unreasonable he said, “Pasifika population is facing huge challenges in obesity, heart conditions, diabetes, rheumatic fever, all the illnesses associated with families on low income, living in overcrowded conditions.”
The Labour Party he said would be keeping a close eye on developments.
“The public will need to be reassured that we will see clear and measurable outcomes in terms of well-being and increased quality of life for Pasifika people. Anything less will be seen by the Pasifika community as pork barrel politics.”
Pasifika Futures consultation schedule:
Invercargill Tuesday 8th April 10am-12pm Venue TBC
Christchurch Wednesday 9th April 10am-12pm Polytechnic
Wellington Wednesday 9th April 06pm-08pm Brentwood Hotel
Porirua Thursday 10th April 10am-12pm Venue TBC
Lower Hutt Thursday 10th April 02pm-04pm EFKS L/Hutt
Dunedin Monday 14th April 10am-12pm Venue TBC
Auckland Wednesday 16th April 07pm-09pm Venue TBC
West Auckland Thursday 17th April 10am-12pm Venue TBC
Central Auckland Thursday 17th April 02pm-04pm Venue TBC