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Measuring The Nation's Social Health

“The Social Report 2001 is the first step in what may become a regular reporting programme on how we are doing as a country across a series of social indicators,” Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey said today.

Mr Maharey said the Ministry of Social Policy had developed The Social Report 2001 at his request as a prototype for a regular publication on the social health of the nation.

“This type of social reporting is increasingly common internationally. Most developed countries and some less developed countries already publish an annual statement of social outcomes.”

The outcomes and measures used in The Social Report 2001 were based on an assessment of the characteristics of a good society and on international and national research about well-being and what defines quality of life.

"The Social Report 2001 tells us about:

- the quality of life of New Zealanders

- how different groups within the community fare

- how New Zealand compares with some other OECD countries on certain measures

- our progress over time towards a better society.

“A major benefit of this report is its comprehensive nature. It covers a range of areas - from living standards and employment, through health and skills, human rights, the physical environment and the social and civic connections that bind society,” he said.

Mr Maharey said most of the areas identified in the report as requiring further attention were already being addressed by the government.

For instance:

- The Government’s health policies aim to improve the health status and independence of New Zealanders.

- There was significant investment in education and skills development, ranging from increased funding for early childhood education to rethinking the objectives and shape of the tertiary education system.

- Significant increases in funding for Child, Youth and Family Services aim to address important issues of child safety. Youth justice and youth suicide are amongst other security and safety concerns on which the Government is focusing.

- In terms of employment, the focus is on developing the capacity of job seekers to take advantage of work opportunities.

- The government is continuing the settlement of Treaty of Waitangi claims and is increasing the focus on the rights of children through the Agenda for Children. The activities of the Commissioner for Children have been extended.

- Culture and identity is being actively supported through increased funding for the arts, and through the public broadcasting charter for Television New Zealand.

- Income related rents have been introduced for State housing, along with increases in the minimum wage.

- A significant range of initiatives has been developed to reduce inequalities and increase opportunities across health, education, welfare and employment.

- This government is committed to a healthy and sustainable environment through, for example, additional funding to meet New Zealand's commitments under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and for priorities such as developing environmental performance indicators and hazardous substance control.

Ends


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