With the population base too small to support local and central government services, and in response to the urgent needs expressed by residents, the Community Worker Project was established under the auspices of the Great Barrier Island Community Health Trust in 1990.
The Community Worker (CW) / kaimahi hapori provides a focal point for residents; Te kaimahi hapori is here to help residents to navigate appropriate communication / liaison as needed to government departments or other agencies from time to time. One of the strengths of the Community Worker Project (CWP) is that it has no religious, political or ethnic partiality and it is a confidential and independent service. The position, conceived as a multi-dimensional service in recognition of all the challenges faced by te hapori o te Motu Aotea, continues to respond to new social challenges fostering resilience and wellbeing within this isolated community.
In 2014 the CWP committed to regular outreach to North Barrier and employed a second worker, this provided increased flexibility across the myriad services offered through the CWP. The regular hours were therefore increased from 40 to 50 pw, undertaken as 2 part time positions.
In 2019 the CWP was sub-contracted to the Aotea Family Support Group Trust.
Lottery Grants are sought annually to support work done by the CW for the Health Trust; book-keeping, liaison with tradespeople as needed and vehicle fleet management and for “gluing the gaps” in the contractual arrangements.
The Community Worker Project budget sits within the Health Trust’s wider financial plan and is carefully monitored to ensure expenditure and targeted funding balances each year.
In recent years there has been several public/community group meetings convened by off Island agencies. There have been discussions, Hui, forums and workshops initiated variously for example by the Royal Commission on Governance (2008), the Ministry of Social Development (Community Response Forum 2011), Auckland Council (Thriving Communities 2012) and the Auckland District Health Board (2013). Interestingly many of these organisations find that the concepts embodied in this community and specifically in the Health Trust and the CWP reflect the most recent trends within wider community development models; to ‘own’ local needs, provide local solutions, to honour resilience and to have ‘hubs’ where multiple services can be accessed, with a ‘community navigator’ (or community worker) to walk beside individuals needing assistance from, or to problems solve issues with government departments and / or other agencies.