Auckland Council's family violence and disability specialists may lose their jobs in a plan to slash the council's community development staff by almost a quarter.

The plan, called "Empowered Communities", will reduce community development and safety staff from 101 to 78 fulltime-equivalents to cut costs by $1.6 million this year and $2 million a year in future years.

Eighteen of the new positions will be "local strategic brokers", generally one assigned to each of the 21 local boards with some shared between the smaller boards, with a brief to connect boards and community groups in each area with all parts of the council system.

The other 60 positions, including two managers of the strategic brokers, will be in a central "community practice hub" to support communities across the city, including "communities of interest and identity" such as the disabled, youth, the elderly and gay, lesbian and transgender people.


But disability groups have launched a petition to Mayor Len Brown because they have been told the new structure does not include a specific role for disability advisers, threatening the jobs of the two people who have advised the council on access and other disability issues since the Super City was formed in 2010.

Other groups have been told that the new structure no longer has a specific role for reducing family and sexual violence. One worker, Kelly Maung, has spent the last 18 months consulting with the sector to develop a draft multi-sector action plan "to end violence in Auckland" including online resources, professional development and a regional social marketing campaign.

Rape Prevention Education chief executive Debbi Tohill said the sector would be "really upset" if the council did not keep someone on its staff to implement the plan.

"A lot of people have put a lot of time into developing this plan," she said. "Kelly has done a fantastic job. It's a difficult sector to work in and she has done a very good job of bringing everyone together."

West Auckland's Waves Trust chief executive Tiara Fletcher said she was shocked that the role had been disestablished.

"Our concern is whether the council was now changing focus in regards to making family violence a core part of what they did," she said.

The council's Disability Advisory Panel chairman Clive Lansink said his panel had urged the council to keep its two disability advisers, but it had no information about whether the roles would be retained.

"We are only aware of what's been leaked or made public," he said. "I'm led to believe that it doesn't include the adviser roles."


Local boards were consulted about a general strategy to "increase the level of control and influence that communities and local people have over things they care about" - a strategy that almost all boards endorsed in principle.

Albert-Eden Local Board chairman Peter Haynes said: "We are really excited because this is how we want to do things.... This will be a massive step forward as long as we get resourced."

But the boards were not told initially that the plan involved cutting the resources for community development and safety by $1.6 million this year and then by $2 million. A committee paper last month said there would be "no additional resources:" for community groups this year and only "limited resource" in 2016-17.

"We applaud the initiative but we are concerned that it needs to be properly resourced, because if it's not properly resourced it will fail," Dr Haynes said.

The council's general manager of community development, arts and culture Graham Bodman said the council was still consulting with staff on the new structure and no final decisions had been made.

"Once consultation is completed on July 17, we will consider all feedback and a final structure of the new unit will be announced towards the end of July," he said.

"I am genuinely interested to ensure that where we have started things off then we are able to deliver going forward. Whether it's disability, or family and sexual violence, or new migrants, or homelessness, those areas of focus remain important to Auckland Council," he said.

He said he had minimised redundancies by not replacing staff who left over the last few months so that 10 of the 101 positions in the old structure were already vacant.

"We are looking at a completely different way of working, having just as many if not more people in the field, being more aware and empowering," he said. "We want to be an empowering organisation working alongside communities to build community and share resources and enable people rather than continuing to deliver all services ourselves."