Since 2015, the Hub has been honored by the visits of a good number of MPs, Ministers and Elected Members. The Prime Minister herself has been to the Hub twice. Unfortunately, not all those visits have happened in pleasant circumstances, in fact some of them we would have preferred that hadn’t happened at all.
However, today I am pleased to welcome to the Hub the Minister of Finance, the Hon. Grant Robertson and the Hon. Dr Megan Woods. Welcome, Ministers and to everybody. Tena koutou katoa. Haere mai!
I would like to congratulate with you both and with the Government for the Well-being Budget for 2019.
I admit that I have been following carefully the journey of this budget and not only because it is the first in the world with a specific focus on well-being. I definitely welcome the effort to try to measure in dollar value well-being indicators and living standards. This is a field that all community organisations know quite well, you don’t have to convince us that economic data alone do not define the success of policies and the health and wellness of a country. We are glad that the Government has now embraced this approach.
I have mainly two reasons for my excitement about the well-being budget. First of all – one of the 3 ways Government is aiming at making the best choices for the future generations: breaking down agencies silos and working across government.
It is a relief: we have been longing for this change in the approach for years. Collaboration; collective impact; addressing needs, issues, priorities from different perspectives but following one purpose; each group, agency, entity contributing their own bits to achieve the final goal. This is the way we work here at the Hub. It is not easy, it implies a transformation in attitudes and a big effort toward changes, but we really value this way of working together, somehow melting up our identities while keeping our peculiarities. And we strongly hope that community organisations and third sector will be part of the conversation with the governmental agencies.
Secondly, the excitement about the Well-being Budget 2019 is totally a selfish feeling. Please allow me, as the coordinator of this Community Hub, to take advantage of this meeting to start advocating loudly for this space.
While reading the budget, the 5 priorities and the Living Standards Framework with the well-being indicators that informed the budget itself, I felt that here at the Phillipstown Hub we are already contributing so much to the well-being of people living in this Country (specifically in Inner City East of Christchurch): we contribute to social connection, safety and security, health, civil engagement and community empowerment, to the cultural identity (but also to the inclusiveness and integration), to subjective well-being, to the achievement of knowledge, skills, job opportunities. The Groups based at the Hub are doing a priceless amazing job addressing many of the issues listed as priorities in the budget: mental health, social isolation, children and families support and well-being, education, empowerment and self-esteem, trust, confidence, social cohesion, sense of identity and belonging.
We need to admit, though, that we are lucky: we are able to contribute to the national well-being thanks to the amazing support of the Ministry of Education who has leased this land to the Hub for a good but limited amount of time, maybe until the end of 2021. And after that, what?
We do not know what, but we know that we want to be part of the conversation about the future of this land. When I say we, I mean the Phillipstown Community Centre Charitable Trust and all the Groups working and providing activities and services from the Hub. We can clearly prove that the Hub is an extremely valuable asset for a wide community (even if I prefer to talk about communities) and, thanks to the inter-governmental approach designed and required in the well-being budget, we can prove it now more than ever.
The future of this land is a conversation that should involve a number of agencies, not only the Ministry of Education and Land Information New Zealand: the impact that the Hub and its groups have been having in the area requires the involvement of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Social Development, the Department of Internal Affairs, the Department of District Health Board, Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry of Youth Development, of Women, for Māori Development, for Pasifika people, for Ethnic Communities, Immigration… Only a conversation involving all these partners will be able to correctly understand the success of the decision of leasing/giving/allocating this premises to a Charitable Trust for a Community Hub.
We are aware of the great economic value of this site, especially in a city – as Christchurch is – where every piece of buildable land close to the city centre is a treasure. If we looked at this land with the old approach of ministers and agencies focusing most exclusively on their own areas of responsibility, any conversation about a permanent community hub on this land might sound overambitious and unrealistic.
But the Well-being Budget 2019 clearly states that success is not just a matter of money, it is also a matter of well-being – well-being of the whole community (with specific emphasis to the most vulnerable people) – and that if we want to improve the general well-being of the Country, or part of it, we need to overcome the old-fashioned and incomplete approach of the small areas of responsibility for a broader and collective one.
For this reason, I truly welcome the Well-being budget 2019 for its innovative vision and approach and I look forward to starting a productive conversation about our future and the future of our communities here.