Family Start Manukau have been Te Wana accredited since September 2010. They recently underwent another assessment to help improve their services. Although there are a few accreditation programmes out there, Jane Clark from Te Wana says this one is specifically designed for community organisations, and to work within the framework of Te Tiriti O Waitangi.
“Te Wana was originally a quality programme developed under Healthcare Aotearoa, to provide a bigger voice for under resourced populations such as Maori and Pacific peoples,” says Jane. “It identified a need for quality accreditation for the community sector, working within a treaty framework. There was nothing like that in New Zealand.”
Using an Australian programme as the basis and working with a number of people including Kaumatua from a variety of iwi, the programme was developed to reflect the New Zealand environment. Then in 2012, about ten years after it started, Te Wana moved away from Healthcare Aotearoa to become the standalone Te Wana Trust, and is internationally recognised.
“We are different because we work with organisations through the whole process, not just at the assessment stage, and all organisations involved volunteer staff to become part of the peer review process,” says Jane. “The focus is very much on the end user, the clients of the organisation, and once the organisation have undertaken an internal review process using our standards as a benchmark, we embark on the peer review process which includes interviewing clients and stakeholders.”
At the end of the process both the organisation and Te Wana make recommendations.
“It’s important to remember this is a voluntary process, and the focus on the organisation is not meeting a minimum standard but being the best they can be,” says Jane. “Te Wana check an organisations work through a variety of evidence - audits, interviews and documentation such as policies and procedures with a focus on checking the systems they have in place to implement and monitor improvements.”
The focus on meeting obligations as a treaty partner looks at everything from a culturally sensitive physical environment, to staff composition, to having mana whenua in decision making positions.
“Family Start Manukau undertake this programme not because they have to but because they can see the benefits for themselves in being a sustainable organisation and being the best that they can be,” says Jane. “It’s also about being recognised externally and giving client confidence in accessing that organisation.”
“We signed up for this very early in our organisational life, at a time when NGOs were going under for fraud and being shown on the front page of newspapers,” says CEO of FSM, Colleen Fakalogotoa. “There seemed to be an air of distrust about NGOs and we needed something that independently of us could vouch for our credibility. These days it's a great exercise in improving how we operate, how to be more participative as staff, to be more responsive to families and build innovative thinking. It also ensures we're following legislative changes and developing with the sector.”
Colleen says it’s a bit like having a big brother or sister come in and tell you where you are doing well and what areas you could look to improve, and once you’ve signed up to Te Wana, the process of review and improvement is continuous.
“After each accreditation review there is an action plan to complete, and that may take two to three years to get through. Plus, the processes it encourages may bring up more development, so pieces of work come out of it,” says Colleen.
“The preparation for a review takes about four months, where we write and produce the evidence about the standards we need to meet. The review is three days and a team of reviewers come and meet with the board, managers, staff, clients, referral agencies, suppliers.”
Colleen says having Te Wana on hand to provide guidance makes the review into a real team effort, where the focus is primarily on improving the experience for the end-user of Family Start Manukau’s service, to make it easier and simpler for clients to access the services they provide.
“Being an accredited organisation within the Te Wana framework means that as a client of Family Services Manukau you can be assured that FSM is continually looking at ways to improve the quality of service they provide to you,” says Jane. “A fantastic part of each accreditation review that happens every three years or so is that you and your whaanau can speak confidentially to the review panel about your experiences with the service. All feedback, positive or negative, becomes part of FSMs plan to get better at what they do.”
To learn more about the Te Wana programme itself, visit tewana.org.nz or call 04 385 7701