The Religious Leaders Forum and Social Cohesion in Aotearoa New Zealand
The Religious Leaders Forum hosted by the Religious Diversity Centre met by Zoom on 24 March 2022.
The main point of discussion was the Government’s programme to strengthen social cohesion in Aotearoa New Zealand’s society which was introduced in the 14 March RDC Newsletter.
Social cohesion of the society and the growing levels of inequality and poverty in New Zealand had been a topmost shared concern of the very first gathering of the Religious Leaders Forum in 2017. Five years later, the leaders wished to affirm unreservedly the Government’s concern for the social cohesion of the society as evidenced in the Social Cohesion Panui undertaken by the Ministry of Social Development and also in the Government’s 2021 Wellbeing Budget.
The leaders noted however that the Social Cohesion Framework did not make a clear connection between the Social Cohesion Panui and the 2021 Wellbeing Budget with its focus on tackling inequality and child poverty.
In a submission to the Government, they suggested that if the Government plans to measure success in improving the Social Cohesion of the society, it would be best to measure success in tackling the causes that fracture the social cohesion.
These would include the increasing economic disparity, and the inequality in access to health, education, justice, employment and housing. The leaders added that a benefit in having the focus on the causes for the fractures in social cohesion is that they provide concrete ways of measurement with baselines and targets that can be made available.