Salvation Army report gives voice to low-income communities

By Talisa Kupenga

The Salvation Army's first State of Our Communities report released today shows some of New Zealand's lowest income suburban communities feel "forgotten" when it comes to the most difficult social issues.

More than 300 people were interviewed in person in Linwood in Christchurch, Papakura in Auckland and Porirua in Wellington over a two month period.

The report was presented to parliament today.

While the report says all residents spoke of a pride and passion for their cities and had aspirations for the future, key areas of concern included crime and safety, disengaged youth, poverty, and the local economy.

Salvation Army policy analyst Ronji Tanielu says, "They love the opportunity to share, to tell someone about their community and about their issues rather than have government tell them what to do and how to do it.  They were saying 'this is what's happening, this is what we hope for, but this is what we're concerned about'."

Tanielu says, "In terms of the aspirations that people had about their community, it was basically, in those areas they wanted people housed, they wanted their children involved in positive activities and they wanted local jobs and a strong local economy for their community."

Mayor of Porirua Mike Tana says his region is already making moves on some of the issues raised but other key areas would require a systemic approach.

"I just want us to support that and get the support from other places like government, especially this government, in changing things, especially in housing.  If you've got a roof over your head that's nice, warm and clean, your health increases, your pride increases and the family unit can work properly."

The Salvation Army wants to expand their research into other low-income communities next year.