Chief Executive's foreword
The 2010/2011 year has been another challenging one for the Ministry and all New Zealanders alike. Together we have continued to weather the effects of the recession, responded to New Zealand’s worst mining disaster, and worked with the people of Canterbury following the tragedy of the Canterbury earthquakes.
While the Canterbury earthquake recovery has played a huge part in our work this year, we have continued to focus on the effects of the recession. We are starting to reduce benefit numbers, particularly for unemployment. The number of New Zealanders receiving an unemployment benefit fell by nine per cent during the year. In addition, 46 per cent of people who attended a Work for You seminar did not need a benefit within the following 28 days. This is an eight per cent increase on the 2009/2010 figure (38 per cent).
The recession continued to place pressure on families and contributed to the more than 20 per cent increase in the number of notifications received by Child, Youth and Family this year. Child, Youth and Family are on top of this core business and their response times have reduced to an all-time low.
Keeping children safe remains a priority for us and we continue to work with other agencies and organisations to develop and deliver joined-up services and support for children and their families.
We know that a joined-up approach delivers better services to New Zealanders. This is why we have continued to strengthen our relationships with our government and non-government partners. This collaboration helped to develop the successful Community Link/Integrated Service Response way of working. The way we work makes sure that individuals and families get the whole-of-system support they need in the way they need it.
It has been satisfying to see innovative social solutions starting to emerge now communities and providers have more say in how social services are delivered in their communities. Twelve regional panels and a national panel approved $29.6 million from the Community Response Fund to social service providers to support our most vulnerable individuals and families. We have also reduced the administrative burden on service providers by signing High Trust contracts with providers who have a reputation for working well with their clients and delivering on their contracts.
The Canterbury earthquakes presented us with many new challenges. I am hugely proud of the way we responded, working alongside others, often in very difficult conditions, to support the people of Canterbury. We learnt a lot, and the experience has given us new insights into how we can better deliver services to people in need at the same time as providing better value to taxpayers.
Over the last ten years, the Ministry has made great progress in improving the lives of New Zealanders and we are well positioned to take on new challenges. Recently the Ministry participated in an independent review, conducted as part of the Performance Improvement Framework, overseen by central government agencies. The reviewers noted that the Ministry is agile, able to change direction fast, and respond quickly to events both nationally and locally. They also commended our strong external and internal communication. These attributes will help us implement the Benefit Reform programme stemming from the Welfare Working Group report, and decisions resulting from the Government’s Green Paper for Vulnerable Children.
Strategies developed through our Value for Money programme over the last couple of years will continue to free up funding to improve services to those most in need of support.
As my time with the Ministry draws to a close, I would like to thank our Ministers, the Hon Paula Bennett, the Hon Tariana Turia, and the Hon Craig Foss, as well as the many other Ministers and Associate Ministers I have served over the years, for their trust, confidence and support.
I also want to say thank you to the many thousands of volunteers and partners in government and non-government organisations who have worked with us and with each other to support New Zealanders in need of help. What you have achieved is remarkable, particularly in recent times with increasing demand and limited resources.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the hard work, professionalism and caring of all our staff. I commend your commitment and dedication to your work and to our clients. It has been a real privilege to lead you and to work alongside you.
I wish you all the best for the future.
The nine per cent drop in unemployment numbers in 2010/2011 contrasts starkly with the increases of almost 25 per cent in 2009/2010 and 187 per cent in 2008/2009.
Child, Youth and Family met all its performance standards relating to getting help to kids.
At the busiest times, we staffed the Government Helpline for the Canterbury earthquake seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
“The core strength of the Ministry is … the way in which staff at the front line are given a lot of discretion to make the most sensible decision in the context of each individual, family and community.” Performance Improvement Review, May 2011.