annual report

Delivering on our strategic intentions

Our work touches the lives of more than a million New Zealanders. We are dealing with complex issues that require a more innovative cross-agency approach. We are looking at the way we work to meet these expectations and over the past year have begun to introduce a number of enhancements to deliver sustainable solutions.

Our strategic direction

Our strategic direction is to become a single, cohesive organisation, with intelligent service delivery, centred on the public we serve and support.

Over the year, we introduced changes to achieve our outcomes and deliver on our priorities. We looked at our operations to find newer and better ways to deliver our services to clients in a changing environment.

In 2014/2015, we worked towards our strategic priorities of:

  • enhancing our social sector leadership role and contribution including leading the Social Sector Board
  • working alongside the social sector to better integrate government services by trialling, learning from and embedding innovative approaches
  • getting more people out of welfare dependency and into sustainable work by taking an investment approach to target support more effectively
  • improving access to social housing for those most in need by delivering and integrating new social housing services and becoming an active purchaser of social housing
  • protecting vulnerable children and young people by modernising Child, Youth and Family and working with the social sector to implement the Children’s Action Plan
  • strengthening communities through investing in services for outcomes and working with providers to improve their capability
  • building partnerships with communities and creating community-based solutions
  • strengthening fraud protection and debt recovery by implementing reforms so that people avoid debt and improve future outcomes.

The pages in this section provide further detail on what we have done to achieve our priorities.

Security response

On 1 September 2014, we were rocked by a tragic incident that took the lives of two of our staff and injured another at the Work and Income Office in Ashburton. The families, friends and colleagues of Peggy Noble and Leigh Cleveland remain in our thoughts.

Following the tragedy we took immediate steps to enhance the safety of our staff. We put in place additional security guards, implemented a zero-tolerance policy towards threatening behaviour, and initiated an independent security review. Nothing is more important than the safety of our staff and clients.

We set up a Security Response Programme to implement the recommendations of the Independent Security Review that followed the tragedy. We continued to engage with agencies locally, nationally and internationally to understand and apply best safety and security practices. We also rolled out the ACT Safe training modules for staff to ensure everyone has a common understanding of basic safety and security.

Our Strategic Change Programme

During the year, we established a Strategic Change Programme to help us co-ordinate and manage the sequencing of our strategic projects. The aim of the Strategic Change Programme is to put us in a better position to meet the needs of our clients.

The Investment Approach[1] gives us a more holistic picture of the needs of our clients across the range of services we deliver. Throughout the year, we have continued to build this client-centric view of service delivery to achieve better outcomes for our clients.

Realigning our services

To become a client-centric organisation, we needed to structure ourselves and our processes so we can put the client at the centre of what we do. We have taken tangible steps towards this.

In the last year we merged four business units (Work and Income, Senior Services, StudyLink, and Integrity Services) into a new Service Delivery group with over 5,500 staff. We also established the Community Investment group, which brought together Family and Community Services and the funding and contracting part of Child, Youth and Family.

Through these realignments we have got the right parts of the business working together to deliver our services to our clients in a more integrated way.

Modernising Child, Youth and Family

The Modernising Child, Youth and Family (CYF) programme is vital to enabling CYF to become more responsive to the needs of vulnerable children, young people and their families to improve their outcomes.

In April 2015 the Minister for Social Development appointed an independent Expert Panel to oversee the development and implementation of a new operating model to modernise CYF. We have seconded a number of staff to provide secretariat support to the Panel.

To support the Panel, the Minister also appointed a Youth Advisory Panel with members aged between 15 and 23, all of whom have had experience with state care.

The Panel provided a high-level business case to the Minister in August 2015, and will provide a detailed business case by December.


Simplification is a programme of work to simplify our services relating to the provision of financial assistance and support (that is, transactional services).

Transactional services should provide clients with the financial assistance they are entitled to through a process that is simple, transparent, and of high integrity.

Current transactional processes hinder our ability to help New Zealanders to help themselves to be safe, strong, and independent. They are often manual and cumbersome, frustrating clients, limiting our ability to focus on outcomes, and increasing costs.

In late 2014 Cabinet approved our proposal to deliver a redesigned experience for clients through a simpler, more client-centric transactional service using digital channels. The investment will make services more effective for clients, reduce operational costs, and create opportunities for reinvestment in outcome-focused services.

Our culture

Culture underpins everything we do. In 2012, we asked our staff what their preferred culture would look like to support innovation and collaboration that will allow us to make a difference in the lives of our clients.

In 2013 we engaged with staff and branded and launched our Building Blue programme. Building Blue promotes the culture we need to support our purpose and principles, and the values we need to encourage better collaboration across the Ministry. We have set ourselves a target to reach our preferred culture by 2021. This is optimistic, but is necessary if we are to become the organisation we need to be.

The Leadership in Action programme, implemented during the year, has supported the development of frontline leaders and reinforced the culture building messages in the leadership programmes.

We continued to engage with our culture facilitators and developed and distributed material to staff to encourage the types of behaviours we need to embed. In August 2015 we conducted a culture survey to measure progress towards our preferred culture. Survey results will be made available in November.

In this section


[1] The Investment Approach helps to ensure support is invested where it will make the biggest difference. It uses available evidence to inform decision-making and supports learning from observed outcomes. This drives ongoing improvement in the performance of employment and work-readiness investment, to better support people to become less dependent on the welfare system.