Engaging Diverse Voices in Policymaking

Image produced by Clarence Lomiwes clarence.lomiwes@gmail.com

Image produced by Clarence Lomiwes clarence.lomiwes@gmail.com

The make-up of New Zealand's population has changed dramatically over the last 15 years, and our ethnic diversity continues to grow. With 213 ethnic groups and new citizens from 203 different countries embracing New Zealand as their home, we have a rich diversity of people and cultures living here. To strengthen our society, a society that thrives because of the diversity of its people, everyone needs to feel a sense of belonging and inclusion. How do we therefore ensure policymaking draws on and includes the voices and perspectives of our multicultural ethnic communities, including people from migrant and refugee backgrounds?

On the 23rd August we convened a meeting that brought together a think tank of leaders from the community sector, central and local government, and academia - exchanging ideas and exploring solutions to ensure policymaking is inclusive and creates a sense of belonging for our multicultural ethnic communities.

This discussion follows on from a successful sector hui Belong Aotearoa held in April on Creating an Inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand. Change makers came together and came up with a range of actions to achieve long-lasting change post Christchurch terror attacks. The participants identified a need for policy development that supports and promotes belonging. Belong Aotearoa is therefore committed to convening this discussion to:

  1. explore how multicultural ethnic voices, including people from migrant and refugee backgrounds, can be more systematically and effectively engaged in the design of policy to strengthen inclusion and belonging.

  2. inspire solutions based policy dialogue by convening a think tank of senior leaders from central and local government, the community sector, academia and business.

  3. strengthen cross-sector relationships, partnerships and create opportunities for collaboration.

  4. exchange ideas and discuss how policymaking can be more community-led to build a thriving and inclusive New Zealand.

  5. ensure our communities are heard at all levels of decision making based on mutual respect and understanding. 

  6. create recommendations and actions for positive change, actions we can take forward as a result of this discussion.

There was a will for cross-sector collaboration felt in the room and undoubtedly this is a positive movement for us all. Through having this important discussion, we understand that while positive change to create a sense of belonging and inclusion for all is underway, there are more opportunities to build on this momentum and we cannot do this alone. It was identified that in order to build a thriving and inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand, policies need to reflect the communities they serve, placing the community at the centre of policymaking. Ethnic diversity is increasing in the public sector workforce however, there is a necessity to integrate ethnic diversity into the policy agenda in local and central government and New Zealand businesses.  

Collectively, there is opportunity for further engagement and to take forward some of the actions that came out of the hui.