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Climate of fear needs addressing

It is hugely concerning that community and volunteer groups feel they are being gagged from speaking out against the Government, Labour’s Community and Voluntary Sector Spokesperson Louisa Wall says.

 A Victoria University survey of 93 sector groups has found 50 percent of respondents felt that voicing their concerns would jeopardise funding, compared with about half that in 2008

“One of the roles of our community and voluntary sector is to gain the trust of the community they seek to benefit, work jointly on solutions and communicate this to the policy-making levels of Government.

“If the perception from the sector is that there will be repercussions if they speak up, then there is something very wrong.

“The Minister needs to not only respond to the evidence, but commit to working constructively with the sector to dispel the fears.

“If community groups are too afraid to advocate the needs of their communities, how can they inform government about what local people are thinking and doing, or engage with communities about what the government is planning and doing?

“Our NGOs need to be valued and supported. Survey results such as these highlight the current dysfunction of the relationship between the Minister, Jo Goodhew, and the sector. 

“The climate of fear must be addressed,” Louisa Wall said.