Tuesday May 29, 2018

Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) is delighted that the Government has agreed to provide it with core funding to continue its work for the next five years.

Foreign Affairs Minister Rt Hon Winston Peters announced today that VSA will receive a core funding grant to support its activities for the next five years, which will take VSA into its seventh decade of sending skilled people to work alongside communities in the Pacific and beyond to achieve what is important to them.

VSA Chief Executive Officer Stephen Goodman says this is a vote of confidence from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as previous agreements have been for three years at most. The $45.978 million will allow VSA to increase its impact in the Pacific.

Goodman says “VSA is committed, just as the Government is, to working in the Pacific. We’ve focused our work there since 2011 and we’ve built deep relationships with our partners there. This funding will allow us to strengthen those relationships and develop new ones, and provide more opportunities for New Zealanders to volunteer.”

Under the new funding agreement, VSA will continue its core work in Polynesia, Melanesia and Timor-Leste, with some scope to develop some assignments in South-East Asia.

VSA volunteers work across a variety of sectors, Goodman says, from health and education to law, business, agriculture and engineering. But within that, he says, there is a focus on wider issues, including gender equality, youth, and climate change.

“We have seen first-hand just how vulnerable these countries are from the effects of climate change, and the Government’s focus on this is welcome. Ensuring that people and communities are resilient is something that cuts across all our work, whether it’s though good infrastructure, access to healthcare and education, better food security or improved livelihoods.”

Goodman says VSA will continue to seek independent funding through private donors and partnerships with New Zealand and regional organisations, in order to further broaden VSA’s impact and volunteer opportunities. “New Zealanders are some of the most generous people, both with their money and their time. Not everyone can pack up and leave for a year or two years however, so we need to ensure we have options for people who may only be looking for short-term assignments”.

“Our challenge and our commitment is to ensure that we deliver on this new funding agreement – not because it’s the contract, but because it will have real and lasting impact in the Pacific.”