INDEPENDENT NEWS

Citizens Advice Bureau Helps Half A Million NZers

Published: Wed 22 Nov 2000 04:29 PM
Citizens Advice Bureau Helps Half A Million New Zealanders
When 300 Citizens Advice Bureau workers gather in one place there's a lot to talk about. Like the fact that they dealt with over half a million enquiries in the past year, or five million in the past decade. Or that they provide at least 550,000 hours of service free of charge each year.
The bureau workers attending their national organisation's AGM and conference at Victoria University this weekend will represent their 2,400 colleagues working in 91 bureaux spread between Kaitaia and Invercargill. They will debate national information systems, membership standards and a number of issues around service delivery.
The CAB workforce is one that many businesses envy. They turn up at least once a week for work without being paid, they are committed to a high standard of service delivery to their clients, they are loyal, dedicated and their love for what they do drives their work.
Christchurch Central MP and backbencher responsible for the International Year of Volunteers, Tim Barnett, will thank the bureau workers for their work at an event that will take place at lunchtime on Saturday. The bureau workers will be given a gift by the Association in appreciation for their continual efforts over the years. Many of those at the conference have volunteered for CAB for over 10 years.
CAB's popularity lies in the fact that it's a free service providing information, advice and support to anyone about anything. Last year for example, top enquiries included queries and complaints about consumer goods and services, requests for budgeting assistance and free legal advice, employment contracts and conditions of work, benefit enquiries and contact details for sports, music, arts and social activities.
Each bureau worker undertakes a basic training course when they enrol with CAB that covers communication skills, Treaty of Waitangi issues, information retrieval and a range of other skills that are needed to be a CAB worker.
Nick Toonen, Chief Executive Officer of the national Association that represents and supports the 91 bureaux, stresses the importance of the human touch. "The personal touch is a central value of the Citizens Advice Bureau service, and the human contact that bureau workers provide is a vital part of the support clients receive.
"We also recognise that information technology increases the opportunities for clients to access information. CAB has a web site (www.cab.org.nz) which offers information about topics such as the breakdown of relationships, the Disputes Tribunal and the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, as well as how to contact your nearest CAB. Or people can call 0800 FOR CAB (0800 367 222) at no cost to themselves. Retaining personal contact while extending the technological options available to clients for connecting with our services is critical to our future," Nick Toonen says.
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For further information contact Nick Toonen, CEO, 021 135 6085 or Ross Bell, Social Policy & Information Officer, 025 294 9722 or (04) 382 8759 (wk)
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New Zealand Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux Level 7, 75 Ghuznee Street PO Box 9777 Wellington Tel: 04 382 8759 Fax: 04 382 8647 soc-pol@cab.org.nz www.cab.org.nz

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