Policy Watch August

A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for”.

Tēnā koutou and welcome to the latest Policy Watch e-letter highlighting the latest news, research and policy developments relevant to the NZCCSS mission to work for a just and compassionate society in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The big news this week is Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s return to Parliament following the birth of her daughter Neve. Six weeks of maternity leave have flown passed and now the challenge of leading the country and parenting a new baby begins. Meanwhile, Rt Hon Winston Peters has returned to his Deputy Prime Minister with quiet applause by most.

What’s happening across government in the Wellbeing space?

It’s hard to keep up with all that’s happening across government’s wellbeing space, so here’s a short overview of past, current and pending consultations.

  • The NZ Treasury sought public comments on Living Standards Framework for Monitoring Intergenerational Wellbeing. Consultation closed at the end of July. Read NZCCSS submission here.
  • The Social Investment Agency (SIA) is undertaking extensive consultation on the investing for social wellbeing approach. There are four key parts to the approach: people centred; based on a wide range of evidence; built on partnerships and trust; and underpinned by clear goals and robust measurement. The final round of hui are happening across the county and there is an online survey open until the end of August.
  • SIA is also currently developing a policy for the protection and use of personal information and has been consulting across the country to hear the views of service users, NGOs and government agencies. There is still time to have your say before the end of August when consultation finishes. Check out the SIA website for details on what is happening in your region this month, or go direct to the online survey.
  • The Child Wellbeing Unit is currently finalising a consultation plan on a Child wellbeing strategy. NZCCSS will update members on how they can be involved as information is made available.

Last week, Statistics New Zealand released the latest consultation round with the launch of  Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand, te ine i tō tātou toiora (IANZ). IANZ will identify (wellbeing) indicators to track how New Zealand is doing against a range of indicators beyond Gross Domestic Product. IANZ is intended to align with the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework (Natural capital, social capital, human capital, financial/physical capital), and will be used to ensure government budget decisions are made through a wellbeing lens, and to report against international reporting requirements i.e. United Nations Sustainable Goals. Statistics New Zealand is undertaking broad collaboration across Māori, community organisations, business, local government, and government agencies. There are many ways to submit your views. See the Statistics New Zealand website for information and have your say on What Wellbeing means To You.


Inequality Tower 2018 – Toby Morris’ Inequality Tower 2018 (with input by Max Rashbrooke) is a great piece of work and a stark reminder why a broader range of indicators beyond Gross Domestic Product and the needs of the top 1 percent, are urgently needed.


The child poverty survey has commenced – The first of 20,000 interviews to provide a clearer picture of the impacts of poverty across the generations has begun. Statistics NZ’s Household Economic Survey received funding from Budget 2018 to expand from 3,500 households to 20,000. The new survey questions are intended to provide more insight on how poverty is experienced so that more effective policies and actions to reduce child poverty can be implemented. Some families interviewed have already raised concern the questions are too intrusive.

MSD youth survey pulled – Another survey, this time by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has not gone ahead. MSD sought to develop a new survey on the health and wellbeing of young people. However, moves to integrate the survey data into the Statistics New Zealand integrated data infrastructure (IDI), required participants to provide identifiable data such as a name, address, date of birth. This did not go down well with many youth advocates, believing youth will simply not provide sensitive information if identifiable data is required. MSD saw the light early on and has now pulled the survey.

Both surveys remind us the collection, storage and transfer of personal information is increasingly sought across government. As the information technology to collect and integrate vast amounts of personal data has advanced, so has interest in how this capability might improve decision-making across government. At the same time, it is critical processes are in place to safeguard peoples’ private information and give them confidence the data is stored safely and used for only the purpose agreed. Work currently undertaken by SIA on a policy for the protection and use of personal information will be of critical importance in this new data driven environment.

Children, families and whĀnau

Oranga Tamariki Update – A National Forum was recently attended by a range of NZCCSS members. Presentations and information provided on the day are now available on the Oranga Tamariki website. There is clearly a lot of work going on. Work programmes to watch out for include: the development of an Information Sharing Code of Practice, a Pacific Strategy and a Fair Funding Framework to pay care providers fairly to meet new care standards. Oranga Tamariki will also be working alongside care providers to work towards the implementation of Care Standards by July 2019. The Professional Practice Framework will be published later this year.

Older people

Research released by Massey University’s Health and Ageing Research Team reports most New Zealanders are doing well in terms of health and wellbeing as they age, while those with poor health are increasingly vulnerable and in need of better care. However, the report also identifies access to affordable, quality rental accommodation for older people on lower incomes, and discrimination of older workers as key concerns to be addressed.

Positive aging strategy – Comment on the Government’s Positive Ageing Strategy close 24th August – read the Kete Kupu article about planning for the huge change in our population and make your comments on the SuperSeniors website.

Hardship grants to over 65s – There has been a 50% increase in the number of people over 65 receiving hardship grants from MSD according to new data released. Grants for food and emergency housing are identified as two areas of concern. A significant portion of over 65s rely solely on superannuation and many can’t cover basic costs. Financial hardship is exacerbated when older people are renting.  This week the Retirement Commissioner, Dianne Maxwell, warned of a looming housing crisis for the over 65s as home ownership (a known buffer against poverty) rates decline, calling for government to step up.

Impact of the nurses settlement on others – The settlement of the District Health Board (DHB) nurses pay agreement is great news for the thousands of nurses working in our hospitals around the country. The pay deal does not cover the thousands of nurses working in aged care, home based support, primary care and other iwi and community services throughout the country. The aged care sector says it could be short up to 1,000 nurses as a result of the settlement. Lead CEO for DHBs on aged care Chris Fleming has said that DHBs have agreed to look again at the funding to aged care once the nurses DHB pay dispute was settled. Pay and conditions for nurses and others working in the sector are directly influenced by the level of government funding that the DHBs pay to the community-based organisations and companies who provide those services.

Criminal justice reform advisory group and summit announced

The prison population has reach 10,000 and without a change of approach to criminal justice there is potential for this number to increase further. Government has signalled it wants to reduce prison numbers and do things differently.   Justice Minister Andrew Little has announced an advisory group and a summit as a first step to reforming the criminal justice system.

The Safe and Effective Justice Programme Advisory Group – Te Uepū Hāpai i te Ora.

Te Uepū Hāpai i te Ora – will work with justice sector agencies on “a prudent and realistic scope” for effective criminal justice reform. The Advisory group will be chaired by retired National MP and Cabinet Minister Chester Borrows, and is required to report back to the Minister in early 2019.

 Criminal Justice Summit, Hāpaitia Te Oranga Tangata

The Safe and Effective Justice Programme from 20 to 22 August.  The summit will be launched at Parliament by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern on 20 August, with the remainder of the summit being held at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua. “Hāpaitia Te Oranga Tangata is about having the guts to look honestly at our slide towards an American-style justice system, and fixing things so we can have safer Kiwi communities.”
More information about the summit is available on the Criminal Justice Summit website

Loans are not income

MSD has announced it will not appeal the High Court Decision in July 2018 that ruled bank loans and credit cards do not constitute income, but at the same time MSD will not work to identify similar historical cases where loans have been treated as income. CPAG challenges this supporting an independent review of all benefit debt.

Spotlight on our members

Home of Compassion Supreme Winner 2018 – Congratulations to the Compassion Soup Kitchen in Wellington who were made Supreme Winner at the 2018 Wellington Airport Regional Community Awards ceremony on Thursday 26 July. They also won the Health and Well-being category.
Auckland City Mission has distributed its highest Number of Food Parcels in Their 98 Year History. There is a hunger crisis in our country,” says Auckland City Missioner, Chris Farrelly. “In the past 12 months, the City Mission has distributed 15,879 emergency food parcels, up from 12,753 the previous year. That’s a 22 per cent increase and the highest in our 98-year history”.

Unveiling our hidden history

Na Nui Tireni/New Zealand made – Māori experience of homelessness and displacement started with land confiscation by the Crown, unfair land purchases and later the land wars. Despite this being an integral (and uncontested) part of New Zealand ‘s history, surprisingly little is known about these times, and no details are covered in the NZ Curriculum. NZ Made/ Nā Nui Tīreni is an exciting new project by Stuff which seeks to address this gap. This visual interactive project assembles records of every Treaty settlement, including historical details and maps, to provide an understanding of the full impact of land loss through a Māori lens. This is an excellent resource.

How are our underutilised fairing?

Latest labour Market Quarterly- The June 2018 quarterly Labour Market Statistics is out and paradoxes continue to run through the data. While the employment rate remains comparatively high at 67.7%, and the unemployment rate is comparatively low at 4.5% (117,000), when considered against the rates of underutilisation at 12% (344,000), there are significant number of people not included in the workforce, but who want to be. This is a significant group of people outside of the workplace, and who are potentially disconnected from their communities.  More needs to be done to reduce this number.

What’s on

Ageing and Spirituality Conference on 1 November 2018 in Auckland.

The Ageing and Spirituality Conference’s full-day event offers an in-depth programme of thought-provoking insights, presentations and perspectives by leading commentators representing a diverse range of spiritual backgrounds.

Research Opportunities Webinar and Local and International Social Sector Research.
John Stansfield (Head of Department of Social Practice, Unitec) will provide advice on how to access free research expertise for your organisation.
During this webinar you will learn:

  • How NGOs can access researchers at little or no cost.
  • How this research can support organisational learning and innovation.
  • Hear about NGOs that have gained new insight