Community groups and government - interacting and learning: some lessons from the NZ experience Liz MacPherson, General Manager Ministry of Consumer Affairs, New Zealand 18 th Consumers International World Congress 29 October 2007
Involves recognising the breadth of consumer experience in the community and the invaluable work of community workers and volunteers dealing with consumer problems on a daily basis
Involves ensuring we work with consumer groups and agencies in the development of new policy, legislation and even consumer awareness programmes
Improves understanding of consumer issues, allows for pragmatic debate of options to address these issues and means Improved decision-making. It is an exchange of perspectives and of knowledge to identify problems and develop decisions which have the best chance of providing solutions which work
And it must be a genuine exchange of views between people who have the knowledge and experience to confront the issues.
Consumer representatives were frustrated because they felt their full potential was not being realised
Chairs of Committees and Boards felt that they did not know how to “use” their consumer representatives to best effect
Lack of clarity from “officials” regarding the nature of the task and the desired characteristics and background of the nominees led to some poor choices
The need to further develop the capability of consumer representatives
Need for networking between consumer representatives
Lessons learnt - guidelines for consumer representation for officials and for chair persons:
assist officials to locate a diverse and appropriate range of consumer representatives and laypersons
encourage criteria-based decisions regarding the involvement of consumer representatives on statutory boards, advisory bodies, departmental working parties, and committees
provide Ministers, officials, and all those involved in the nomination, selection, and appointment process with better information to support decision-making
increase the effectiveness and job satisfaction of consumer representatives and
encourage the development of a participatory working environment in boards, advisory bodies, departmental working parties, and committees.
Lesson learnt – Ministry’s role in supporting Consumer Representation
The Ministry’s role is to advise government agencies and others
of the purpose and value of consumer representation especially the breadth and difference that consumer representatives bring to the deliberation of issues and decision-making
of the qualities of effective consumer representatives, and assist them to identify appropriate consumer representatives by making nominations for them to consider
of the practical difficulties consumer representatives encounter.
nominate consumer representatives for consumer or lay positions on boards and committees
provide opportunities for consumer representatives to network and support each other, and receive training through the Consumer Representative Network.
Integrating and learning from each other: new and continuing challenges…
Continue to develop and extend partnership approaches – in the context of greater emphasis on accountability for results
Build capability of Consumer Representation Network to ensure greater diversity of representation, skills and knowledge – key challenge is the desire for a deep understanding of consumer issues AND director skills
Provide further best practice advice on consumer consultation and community participation – how to develop a co-creation culture
Continue building relationships with communities – particularly vulnerable consumer groups
Recognise and explore new and useful technologies – “the participative web”