Gael Surgenor is a Service Development Manager at Family and Community Services and regarded as one of the main social entrepreneurs active in the Ministry of Social Development at the present time. She leads significant attitude and behaviour change campaigns on parenting and family violence.
Gael was the Project Manager of the team which created SKIP (Strategies with Kids — Information for Parents), which communicates positive parenting messages and supports community leadership and action to change the way children are raised in New Zealand. SKIP has been successful in combining social marketing with a community development approach that builds strong relationships with community organisations.
Many government-funded education programmes start with an advertising campaign rather than investing in a level of community engagement that builds a strong community ownership of the need for social change. SKIP’s successful focus on a community engagement approach has set it apart from many other social marketing initiatives.
The lessons from this have the potential to influence many other government social campaigns, such as the initiative on Family Violence. The SKIP experience is also prompting a rethink on how government can best enable collaboration and partnerships between the community and government sectors.
Gael uses her over twenty years experience in community organisations to creatively explore how government can better value and utilise the knowledge, expertise and experience held by local communities.
She also is encouraging government and community organisations to develop reflective practice in social change initiatives that uses programme planning and self evaluation tools which enable them to focus on learning and outcomes, rather than focussing on compliance and service delivery.