Annual report 2014 cover

Better Public Services

As Chair of the Social Sector Forum, our Chief Executive is responsible for four of the Government’s 10 Better Public Services Results for New Zealanders. The Ministry is the lead agency for two of these results (Results 1 and 4), while the other two are led at agency level by other Ministries4.

Result 1: Reduce the number of people who have been on a Jobseeker Support benefit for more than 12 months (Lead agency)

Reducing long-term welfare dependence is about supporting people to better their lives, managing the Government’s future financial liability, and supporting the New Zealand economy by ensuring we have a skilled and productive workforce.

During the year, we made significant progress towards achieving the target of reducing the number of people who have been on a Jobseeker Support benefit for more than 12 months to 55,000 by June 2017.

Alongside the Government’s welfare reforms, we adopted an investment approach to welfare that helps to ensure we invest support where it will make the biggest difference. We also introduced a new work-focused approach to service delivery.

In the year to 30 June 2014, the number of people on a working-age benefit for more than 12 months fell from 74,559 to 67,531. This is a drop of 9.4 per cent as shown in the graph below.

People continuously receiving Jobseeker Support (JS) benefits for over 12 months

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Result 2: Increase participation in early childhood education (Contributor to Ministry of Education as lead)

Quality early childhood education (ECE) has positive long-term benefits, including better health, more stable family relationships, and less likelihood of engagement in criminal activity. The Ministry of Education is leading the work to increase the rate of participation in early childhood education to 98 per cent in 2016.

We contribute to this target by subsidising the cost of ECE for children in our care aged between 18 months and three years and through our Family Start5 programme. In 2013/2014, 72.3 per cent of children in care aged 18-36 months; and 71 per cent of children whose families participated in Family Start were enrolled in ECE.

During the year, progress has been made towards achieving the target. The percentage of children who have attended ECE before starting school has steadily increased each year since 2000, and reached 95.9 per cent at 30 June 2014 as illustrated below.

Prior ECE participation rate - quarterly for the previous year

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The annual growth rates in prior participation for Māori children, Pasifika children, and children starting at low-decile schools are all higher than the national rate.

Result 3: Increase infant immunisation rates and reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever (Contributor to Ministry of Health as lead)

Immunisation is one of the most cost-effective ways of preventing many infectious diseases. Early immunisation links children into the health system from a young age. Rheumatic fever can lead to rheumatic heart disease and premature death.

The Ministry of Health is leading work to have 95 per cent of eight-month-olds fully immunised and reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever to 1.4 cases per 100,000 people by June 2017.

We contributed towards the two target indicators for this Result through Gateway Assessments6 and the Family Start Programme. In 2013/2014, we referred 3,461 children and young people for Gateway Assessments, and 5,114 families received Family Start services.

As at 30 June 2014:

  • the immunisation rate for eight-month-old infants was 91.6 per cent, an increase of 1.6 percentage points from the previous year

Immunisation coverage for children at 8 months

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  • the incidence of rheumatic fever was 4.3 cases per 100,000 of population.

First episode rheumatic fever hospitilisations, annual rate per 100,000, New Zealand (2013 rate is provisional)

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Result 4: Reduce the number of assaults on children (Lead agency)

We continue to work collectively with other agencies to achieve the target of halting the 10-year rise in the number of children experiencing physical abuse, and reducing current numbers by 5 per cent by 20177.

In 2013/2014, the number of substantiated physical assaults was stable at 3,178 compared with 3,181 the previous year. The recent flattened trend appears to be continuing. Meeting this target means bringing the projected number of children expected to experience substantiated physical abuse down to less than 3,000 by June 2017. The graph below illustrates the stabilising of the number of assaults.

Children experiencing substantiated physical abuse (12 month to June 2014)

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We lead cross-agency efforts on this target and we deliver services to support vulnerable families that aim to reduce the number of assaults on children and young people. We also contribute to this by supporting the Children’s Action Plan, which seeks to introduce:

  • better screening of children for vulnerability
  • full needs assessment of vulnerable children
  • better support for frontline staff and communities to raise concerns about the safety of children.

Implementation of the Children’s Action Plan may increase reporting of child assaults by raising awareness of child abuse. In the short term, this may mean that substantiated findings of physical abuse against children increase.

Other Better Public Services targets to which we contribute

The Ministry contributes to the achievement of another four targets that are led by other government agencies:

Result 5: Increase the proportion of 18-year-olds with NCEA Level 2 or equivalent qualification

We contributed to this target by administering the Youth Service, which aims to get disengaged young people back into training or education. During the year, we provided personalised support to more than 9,500 young people at risk of long-term welfare dependency. We also contributed through our participation in the Social Sector Trials.

The proportion of 18-year-olds with NCEA Level 2 or equivalent qualifications has increased by 1.4 percentage points to 78.6 per cent at the end of the 2013 calendar year.

Result 7: Reduce reoffending and Result 8: Reduce the rates of total crime, violent crime and youth crime

We contributed to these targets by providing services and programmes such as Fresh Start to more than 1,600 young people. These programmes hold young offenders accountable for their offending and manage the risk of their reoffending. We also held 5,633 youth justice family group conferences as an early intervention to stop offending from escalating.

Reoffending rates fell from 27.2 per cent in March 2013 to 26.3 per cent in March 20148. The rate of youth crime fell from 265 per 10,000 population in June 2013 to 228 at 31 March 20149, a drop of 14 per cent in the period. Since the Better Public Services result was set in June 2011, youth crime has fallen 30.1 per cent, exceeding the target of a 25 per cent reduction by 2017.

Result 10: New Zealanders can complete their transactions with the Government easily in a digital environment

Over 39 per cent of New Zealanders’ most common government transactions are now completed in a digital environment.

We contributed to this target by enhancing our digital service channels and matching the needs of our clients for digital interaction. We enhanced options for online financial assistance applications, and improved security by implementing RealMe10. To enable students to access their personal information from any mobile device we also launched the MyStudyLink mobile view. More information can be found in the section ‘More people interact with the Ministry in a digital environment’.


4: Result 2 is led by the Ministry of Education and Result 3 is led by the Ministry of Health.
5: The Family Start programme is a child-centred, intensive home visiting programme to improve children’s growth, health, learning, relationships, whānau circumstances, environment, and safety. For more detail, please refer to page 22.
6: Gateway Assessments ensure that every child or young person entering care, and those already in care or at risk of entering care who would benefit from this service, receives a comprehensive health and education assessment to build a picture of their needs. For more detail, please refer to page 21.
7: This target was set in June 2012. References to ‘the 10-year rise’ and ‘current numbers’ refer to the number of children experiencing substantiated physical abuse as at June 2012.
8: This result is reported annually at 31 March.
9: Latest available data.
10: RealMe is a login portal for online applications, which allows clients to easily and securely prove their identity online and access different services using a single username and password.