Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is concerned about the negative impacts of government services withdrawing from communities and the drive for people to access government services online.
The organisation is seeking a commitment from government to ensure that public services remain accessible to everyone.
People of all ages come to CAB frustrated by their experiences of trying to access government services.
They say it is getting harder to access human support from government agencies, but people's need for face-to-face services is as real as ever.
Earlier this year CAB released a report, Face to Face with Digital Exclusion which spotlights the effects of government digital services on inclusion and wellbeing in society.
While online services are great for some people, the drive towards online only is leaving some of the most vulnerable members of the community behind.
Many of these individuals seek the support of the CAB because they need access to face-to-face services, paper-based resources, and empathetic human connection.
In the report, it is made clear that the public sector is relying heavily on the goodwill of the Citizens Advice Bureau, and its volunteers, to fill the gap from government's withdrawal from face-to-face and paper-based service delivery.
This has a very real impact on local CABs who are carrying the burden of this cost-shifting by government agencies.
The CAB is seeking the recommendations of its digital exclusion report and in particular to pledge their support to the following:
1. Leave no one behind
Ensure that steps are taken to address digital exclusion and that no one is left behind or left out because they can't or don't wish to engage online.
2. Public services accessible to all
Implement accessibility and inclusion standards for the delivery of public services that include offline channels as part of the proactive design of government service delivery.
3. CAB compensated for cost-shifting
Ensure that the Citizens Advice Bureau is properly funded to meet the demands and cost-shifting that has resulted from government services going online.
The CAB has issued a pledge statement for candidates to sign up to.
We also ask for the public to get behind this by signing a petition.
Paper copies of the petition are available at CAB, Hancock Community House, 77 King St, Palmerston North or the petition can be signed online at https://our.actionstation.org.nz/petitions/leave-no-one-behind-campaign-to-address-digital-exclusion.
For free and confidential advice and information on this or any other matter visit the Palmerston North Citizens Advice Bureau in Hancock Community House, 77 King St.
Opening hours, Mon-Fri from 9am-4.30pm, call 357 0647 or 0800 367 222. We have a free legal advice service by qualified lawyers most Thursday evenings at 7.30pm, and a JP is available on Tuesdays from noon–2.30pm.
No appointment is necessary for either of these services.