Through my public housing mahi with Māori I was privy to zoom calls (zui) during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in March/April 2020. These zui included cross agency (HUD, MSD, Kāinga Ora, TPK), Peak Bodies (Te Matapihi and Community Housing Aotearoa), NGO’s, researchers, and Māori groups. The focus of the zui were to provide updates and feedback between participants so that government could respond to the needs of the community quickly.
The idea for Applause came about after I heard from these NGOs about the massive hours they were working during the Covid Level 4 lockdown to support government to quickly house, feed, and care for vulnerable whanau. This increased caseloads for frontline community workers where they were working 7 day weeks, up to 12 hour days. They did this because New Zealand needed them. They answered the call.
These NGO kaimahi are still supporting these whanau. Their increased workload will continue well past the easing of lockdown restrictions. With the economic downturn upon us the NGO sector will be needed again to support the next wave of New Zealanders seeking social service support.
Applause is here to support the wellbeing of the staff of these NGO’s so that they can continue to support vulnerable New Zealanders for as long as we need them during these unprecedented times.
Throughout the pandemic I could see and hear that we, as a country, were responding to what was in front of us while also acknowledging that there was more to come. The current hours and working conditions of frontline community workers is unsustainable and we need to find a way to support their wellbeing so they can continue to support our country.
My idea is a practical response that allows kaimahi to self-determine their wellbeing needs when they feel they need it. It provides a way for businesses to help their communities where they can. The evidence is overwhelming that our NGOs need support and are absorbing a huge amount of unmet need. Read the independent report by Martin Jenkins that shows a $630 million funding gap for social services, including iwi/Maori, that threatens the system’s sustainability and effectiveness.