Our achievements

Delivering cross-sector strategic advice and insights

We delivered strategic advice partnering with the social sector to incorporate community voices, while leveraging our expertise in data and analysis.

Investigating gaps in new fathers’ income

A photo of a man and a woman walking on the beach holding hands. The man is also holding a baby.

Our previous joint project, Having a Baby in South Auckland, with The Southern Initiative (TSI) generated a lot of interest. One of the strongest findings emerging from this work showed fathers exhibit a pattern of being outside paid employment (not earning income) about the time of the birth. Together TSI and the Agency decided to continue the work by investigating this finding further.

By understanding what differs between fathers who experience a gap in employment and income around the time of the birth, the social sector is better able to support whānau during such a transformative time.

We found the following:

  • Many fathers take time away from work following the birth of a child. But their income effects their ability to do so, with low-income fathers showing shorter periods away than higher earning fathers.
  • Of fathers who worked for wages, one in six may not have been eligible for any partner parental leave from their main employer when their babies were born, as eligibility in New Zealand depends on continuous attachment to a single employer.
  • The birth of a child can be a transformative period for fathers. We saw many of the lowest-income fathers increasing their income around the time of the birth of a child.
  • Many of these measures disproportionally affect Māori and Pacific fathers.

These findings were shared with relevant staff at the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry for Women. One of the themes emerging from these conversations is that, because most policy relating to the care of new babies focuses on the mother, there has been limited awareness of the experiences of fathers and non-primary caregivers.

TSI published their report from this research at the end of July 2021.

Examining how local service use may differ from nationally reported figures

Most policy is developed using national-level insights, so we examined how local use of a service may differ from nationally reported figures. We set out to provide practical advice on this system-level policy issue, examining the use of B4 School Check screenings. B4 School Check aims to identify and address any health, behavioural, social or developmental concerns that could affect a child in getting the most benefits from school and is a national screening programme.

We partnered with A Better Start/ E tipu e rea, one of the country’s 11 National Science Challenges, hosted by The University of Auckland. We picked the B4 School Check screenings because national-level analysis was available and the Ministry of Health could use the local-level findings to support the review of Well Child Tamariki Ora.

We published a high-level insights report, focusing on key findings and recommendations for getting the most out of our analysis.

Our key findings include:

  • evidence that national-level results mask differences in attendance rates and potential levers for improving uptake across local areas
  • across DHBs, children with a disability are between two and six times more likely to miss out on vision, hearing and nurse checks, while children not consistently enrolled with GPs are between two and ten times more likely to miss out on these checks
  • other factors with a strong association to children missing checks in most district health boards (DHBs) include families not having access to a motor vehicle, having a mother with no formal qualifications or living in large households of eight or more people.

We also created individual DHB summary reports and shared these with the Ministry of Health.

Lifting social-sector data capability

We advised on the social sector’s ability to use and interpret data safely and respectfully, alongside supporting the development of data tools and solutions to address shared data needs.

Working with communities to articulate their data needs

Our Data for Communities initiative resulted from community feedback from our 2018 engagement ‘Your Voice, Your Data, Your Say.’ The engagement highlighted the importance of up-to-date and easy-to-access information and insights for non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community organisations and iwi. Organisations can adjust their services to improve the wellbeing of the communities they serve if they have data that provides them with targeted information about those communities.

The project developed two prototype tools and provided them to a pilot group of representatives from NGOs, local government, philanthropic and advocacy groups for testing. The tools are used to understand how relevant and timely data can help with both service and operational planning activities.

Our findings were as follows:

  • Community organisations have a legitimate need for locally relevant data and have a vital role in caring for the communities they serve.
  • Data is rarely available to organisations in a timely manner.
  • While data is increasingly available, it is published in different forms, is hard to find, difficult to ‘stitch together’ and time consuming to collate.
  • Organisations find it hard to balance the effort of analysis with the value drawn from it when data is often too aggregated to be relevant.
  • The private sector is filling a gap for the organisations that can afford it, by selling the expertise to collate, process and present government data.

Evolving the Data Expertise and Capability Programme

This programme started in 2017 and phase two of the Data Exchange programme concluded on 30 June 2021. The programme aimed to support the improvement of data expertise, data capability and data maturity across the social sector. This programme oversaw a few projects, achieving several successes.

Launching the Data Protection and Use Policy toolkit

The Data Protection and Use Policy (the Policy) was produced on behalf of, and in collaboration with, the social sector. The Policy describes what ‘doing the right thing’ looks like when collecting or using people’s data and information. It helps people understand how their information might be used, what rights and choices they have, and how to use those rights. It talks about the importance of working with others who are part of or work with the communities that data comes from.

The toolkit, available online, provides pragmatic guidance on how to apply the Policy, including in-depth explanations of the principles, example consent forms and good case practices. There are five foundational government agencies implementing the Policy: Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Oranga Tamariki and the Social Wellbeing Agency.

The Policy and the toolkit will be transferred to the Government Chief Privacy Officer (GCPO) as its new system owner. The Policy has also been incorporated into the GCPO’s Privacy Maturity Assessment Framework.

Connecting the social sector through the Data Exchange

As part of the Data Expertise and Capability Programme, we encouraged and supported the uptake of Eightwire’s Data Exchange. The platform helps facilitate data sharing practices across the sector that are safe, secure and controlled. As at 30 June 2021, 15 government agencies (including seven DHBs) and 42 NGOs were connected or were implementing connections. This exceeded the original programme target of 10 government agencies and 42 NGOs.

The Data Exchange:

  • provides a safe, secure and controlled cloud-based exchange platform
  • connects organisations in a way that’s easy, consistent and efficient
  • helps frontline staff improve service delivery by providing better information about the people they work with
  • promotes standardised approaches to privacy, data management and data standards.

Our partnership with Eightwire, has been a real strength, showing true partnership between government and enterprise. We supported organisations to transition to a direct contractual relationship with Eightwire by the time this phase wrapped up on 30 June 2021. Most agencies and their NGO partners had transitioned by 30 June 2021.

Improving how the social sector shares data

We developed the Social Sector Data Sharing Standard (Data Sharing Standard) to provide a consistent way of sharing data points and interactions that define events that happen in the social sector. Using the Data Sharing Standard makes it easier for service providers (which include NGOs) and agencies to have effective conversations about how to improve their services for the public. Data can be shared quickly and easily throughout the sector, with any kind of technology. This also improves data quality, leading to better analysis across and within services.

A draft of the Data Sharing Standard was piloted during 2021 by The Loft, a co-location of NGOs based in Christchurch. Integrating the Data Sharing Standard will allow The Loft to automate referrals to a service provider and determine both acceptance or rejection of referrals and case outcomes.

We will continue to promote the adoption of the Data Sharing Standard within the social sector.

Aronui: Supporting iwi access to their own data

In te ao Māori, ngā kete o te wānanga are the three baskets of knowledge, brought down from the heavens by Tāne-Nui-A-Rangi (Tāne Mahuta, Guardian of the Forest). Te Kete Aronui relates to knowledge acquired through careful observation of the environment. We shortened the name of this project to Aronui as this also means ‘to focus on’, which is fitting for the work we are doing – focusing on iwi data.

Aronui uses appropriate products from our Data for Communities work and will also inform our work in social-sector data expertise and capability.

Ngāti Maniapoto invited the Social Wellbeing Agency to be included in their Deed of Settlement with the Crown. They asked us to tell them what we could about their iwi, with the view to supporting them to improve their data capability. We developed an approach specific to Ngāti Maniapoto to test how to support access to data that is specific to them.

We held a hui in February 2021 to establish priority work areas, key issues and data needs. The hui showcased data tools for iwi feedback and set up an iwi group to work with the Agency.

Learnings from this project will show us how to scale up for other iwi and provide them with data that they need. We have the expertise and capability to extract data for small populations from the Integrated Data Infrastructure and have done initial work to help us understand what is helpful for Ngāti Maniapoto.

Deepening social-sector understanding of wellbeing

We worked with the social sector to develop ways to measure and understand wellbeing across different communities, with an emphasis on broad measures of wellbeing.

Supporting the OECD to develop an aspirational child wellbeing framework

In 2019, New Zealand entered a partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to improve data availability that would lead to better policies to enhance child wellbeing. This work arose out of discussions between the Chief Science Advisor to the Minister for Child Poverty Reduction and Chief Science Advisor to the Social Wellbeing Agency, Professor Richie Poulton, and the OECD.

We have played a leading role in helping the OECD develop an aspirational framework for child and youth wellbeing, drawing on New Zealand’s expertise and experiences in this area.

The OECD launched their aspirational child well-being measurement framework in July 2021. The 'Measuring What Matters for Child Well-being and Policies' report lays the groundwork for improved child wellbeing measurement and better data to inform better child wellbeing policies. It outlines an aspirational framework for child well-being measurement, setting out which aspects of children’s lives should be measured and how to better monitor child wellbeing. It also outlines priorities for child data development and identifies key data gaps, all with the aim of motivating improvements in child data infrastructures.

Hosting Toi Hau Tāngata: Collaboration for Wellbeing hui

This hui was a one-day event, held at the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington in June 2021. It brought together 115 attendees from across the social sector, representing government agencies, NGOs and communities. The intent was to provide a space for the social sector to share the innovations, lessons and stories from work developed collaboratively, focused on improving people’s wellbeing.

The day highlighted the alignment across the social sector to improving wellbeing. The Agency will continue to work with government and NGO partners to support the delivery of the Social Wellbeing Board work programme.

Presentations were made by The Southern Initiative, Methodist Mission Southern, Te Tihi o Ruahine and members from the Data Protection and Use Policy Working Group. Attendees included people from MSD, Oranga Tamariki, Te Puni Kōkiri, Stats NZ and the Ministry of Education.

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