On 16 September 2018, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the next and future steps for the Coalition Government she leads, in a major speech in Auckland, outlining a Cabinet-mandated, coalition Government work plan.
There were three key areas addressed in her speech: Build a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy; improving the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families; providing new leadership by Government. The Prime Minister added: when you elected us, you didn’t just tell us to govern, you asked us to fix existing problems, anticipate emerging ones, and to make sure we weren’t caught off guard because we had done neither. You asked us to make sure New Zealand wasn’t left behind.
This vision and plan raises a few key points that help frame this SOOC 2018 project. First, one of the consistent buzzwords of this Government has been ‘Inclusion’, particularly in an economic growth and financial sense. The Prime Minister alluded to this by saying that no one in New Zealand should be left behind. The Salvation Army has observed this focus on inclusion, as well as its common partner ‘diversity’, across several parts of Government, including Treasury and the State Services Commission to name a few. Inclusion is always a lofty goal, but is notoriously hard to actually make happen.
This report and project is an attempt to capture the views of everyday Kiwis—many from traditionally working class or lower socio-economic communities—as they reflect on the problems, the positives, the key building blocks, hopes and aspirations of their communities. But it also measures whether or not, with the huge diversity in our nation, inclusion is indeed possible and if it is actually happening across our communities.