Growing up, The Cause Collective Chief Executive Rachel Enosa (pictured) observed the experiences her family faced in navigating support services and systems, which made her think there must be a better way for families to access the support they need.
Inspired, Rachel began a degree in Social Work, which after a while, left her leaning more towards public policy, she says.
Of Samoan and New Zealand European descent, Rachel was born in Christchurch but spent most of her childhood in Dunedin.
Rachel’s last social work placement was at the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs (MPIA) now Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP), when MPIA launched the Pacific Vision Conference, followed closely by the Pacific Capacity Building and Closing the Gaps policy programme.
“At that time there were not many Pacific people working in policy and I count it a real blessing to have been part of some of that earlier policy development and working alongside some of our pioneers in this space,” Rachel says.
She also did a secondment to the Ministry of Social Policy, in the Office for Senior Citizens, and at that time, she did not understand why she was placed there, because her interest lay with young people.
After time, it became clear.
“It was in this role where I learned to write strategically and develop policy frameworks, a skill that continues to serve me well today.”
After working in Wellington, Rachel moved to South Auckland where she has been based for the past 18 years.
She has worked on planning and funding for the Pacific Health Team at Counties Manukau District Health Board, contract work across non-governmental organisations, and a Ministry of Health (MoH) role.
“At MoH, I supported Auckland Pacific provider commissioning and the merger of the three former Pacific Primary Health Organisations (PHO) into one – Alliance Health Plus Trust.
“I then moved on to helping Alliance Health Plus Trust implement their Better, Sooner, More Convenient Primary Health Care Business Case.”
All these earlier work and personal experiences have helped Rachel to learn how valuable lived experience is to making good policy decisions, she says.
“I believe it is critical those most affected by the system should at least be part of the conversations about how to make the system work better for them.
“Our South Auckland communities and their lived experiences in framing policy and influencing social change is crucial for the work I am now doing for The Cause Collective.”
As a Pacific social change agency, The Cause Collective is focused on social problems facing communities most in need – particularly in South Auckland - and learning what obstacles are preventing them thriving.
It uses different tools to get to the heart of these problems to understand people’s experiences and the way systems and services interact with the people who are most affected by the problem.
Rachel was recently honoured at the 2020 SunPix Awards, claiming the MPP Pacific Community Leadership Award, along with The Fono’s Sally Dalhousie.
The Pacific Community Leadership category recognises Pacific people who lead community organisations in any field that strengthen Pacific communities.
While Rachel is the Chief Executive, she also helped create the organisation, and established the Prepare Pacific website, set up to disseminate information about COVID-19 to Pacific communities.
Rachel says her role includes being a cheerleader for the team, enabler of innovation and good ideas, trouble shooter and problem solver.
“I spend a lot of time in my job thinking about complex social problems and the big picture – ten years down the track.
“Organisational culture is also another important part of the job in trying to mirror what we are doing in the community – creating the conditions for our staff to thrive in their work to bring impactful change to South Auckland.”
Rachel’s tireless work was acknowledged at the SunPix Awards, and the accolade came as a surprise to her family.
“I did not mention it to them as I don’t like people to make a fuss, but now they have seen it on TV and were so surprised – and they are of course, proud.
“I would also like to add this is an award I share with my hard-working staff at The Cause Collective.
“It takes a special group of people to work in a social change environment and I really admire my team for their courage, compassion, smarts and their sense of humour they bring to the work.”
When asked what the “big picture” looks like for Pacific Aotearoa, Rachel says, that Pacific Peoples will be included in the strategy for success, for Aotearoa.
“That we have opportunities to self-determine and to actively participate in the social and economic building of our communities post-COVID and into the future.”