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Chief Executive's Foreword

Ka huri te kei o te waka ki te pae tawhiti Kia hoe ngātahi ki te pae tata Ki te whai ao, ki te ao mārama.

The waka turns towards the distant horizon Let us make headway and paddle as one Through the glimmer of dawn to the break of day.

Debbie Power - Chief Executive

The Ministry of Social Development plays an important role in New Zealand’s public service – we take that responsibility very seriously as around 1.25 million people rely on us every year to help them to be safe, strong and independent. Over the past year there has been an increasing demand for our services – we spent more than $26 billion providing support to New Zealanders through benefits, superannuation, housing assistance and student allowances.

By the end of the financial year, we were providing one in four New Zealanders (working-age people, seniors and students) with direct financial support. In particular, we have seen a big increase over the past year in the demand for hardship assistance and emergency housing grants. Our role in social development means that in addition to providing support to those that need it, we work with a proactive focus to intervene early to ensure everyone can participate meaningfully in society.

We are focused on delivering for New Zealanders and we have introduced a new strategic direction – Te Pae Tawhiti – which signals the organisational shifts we need to make to achieve better outcomes for all New Zealanders.

Alongside these shifts we have identified priority areas that we need to focus on – the Government’s welfare overhaul, employment, service experience, partnership and helping people have a place to call home.

The Government is committed to overhauling the welfare system and we have been working on implementing the changes announced in Budget 2019. We are also supporting the Minister for Social Development to develop a long-term programme for the overhaul.

We are committed to helping people connect with opportunities to realise their goals, whether these relate to employment, education or training, or supporting others in their family or community.

The increase in demand for financial assistance over this year has impacted on the time our case managers can spend with clients on proactive employment-focused case management. With an additional investment from the Government we are energising what we do for employment across all our work.

We want to provide the best service we can to our clients – we know we can do better and we will. Over the past year we have worked hard to understand clients’ needs better, and to listen more effectively to what they need. We have continued to make our site offices warmer and more welcoming and we have introduced a client survey programme to find out how we are doing.

Having a place to call home is the foundation for almost everything else in people’s lives – but for many of our clients it is not a stable foundation. We need to provide people with as much accommodation support as they need and are entitled to, until greater housing supply becomes available.

We know we can’t do it alone – we partner with about 2,200 other organisations who provide services around prevention and response to vulnerability and harm, youth development, disability support, work readiness, skills training, and getting people into work.

We want New Zealanders to be resilient, live in inclusive and supportive communities, participate positively in society and reach their potential. We recognise the diversity of the people, families, whānau and communities we serve and we are committed to improving their wellbeing.

Earlier this year, we launched our Māori strategy and action plan – Te Pae Tata – which embraces our new strategic direction (Te Pae Tawhiti) and articulates how we will work with Māori to achieve better outcomes for Māori.

Delivering better for Māori is key to success for us all – it’s not just the right thing to do – it aligns with our commitment as a Te Tiriti o Waitangi partner. We will continue to engage whānau, hapū and iwi so that they remain part of this journey and can hold us accountable for our actions. We have also been working on a strategy to improve the lives of Pacific peoples.

Family violence and sexual violence are a reality for many people in New Zealand and can have intergenerational impacts on individuals and families. We have worked with the Joint Venture for Family Violence and Sexual Violence to improve services and safety for victims/survivors and to change long-standing behaviours and attitudes.

Over the past year we have continued our focus on improving the lives of disabled people by working with the sector to renew the Disability Action Plan. We have also been supporting disabled New Zealanders to find and keep work. In 2018/19 Supported Employment Service providers placed 4,310 participants into employment.

We are focused on helping senior New Zealanders to maintain their independence and participate positively in society. Over the past year the Office for Seniors has been developing a new strategy and supporting the development of age-friendly cities, towns and communities across New Zealand.

We are well-positioned to respond to emergencies and we were proud to play a lead role in the all-of-government response to the Christchurch mosque attacks in March 2019. We were on the ground immediately following the tragedy and we are now providing case management for around 250 families. Our response included the introduction of a new payment system for those affected by the attack and their immediate family members.

In closing, I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor Brendan Boyle who left the Ministry in December 2018 after seven years as Chief Executive.

I took up the role of Chief Executive in February 2019 – reconnecting with the organisation where I began my career as a frontline case manager in 1980.

It is a privilege to lead this organisation and I am determined that we deliver on our commitment to improve the way we support New Zealanders to be safe, strong and independent – Manaaki tangata, manaaki whānau.

Debbie Power

Chief Executive

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