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Policy community urged to build social knowledge

26 November 2001 Media Statement

Policy community urged to build the social knowledge base

New Zealand’s policy community are being urged to strengthen the social knowledge base so that Government programmes effectively tackle the causes of disadvantage in our society.

Speaking to the Sociological Association of Aotearoa annual conference at Massey University in Palmerston North this morning, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said the Labour-Alliance Government has adopted a social development approach to provide genuine opportuity for all New Zealanders. The approach focuses on pro-actively working with people and families to help them overcome the barriers which prevent them from achieving their potential.

Steve Maharey said to ensure that these interventions are effective, both government and the community need to be better informed by research and analysis about the social problems and solutions.

“Social development is vital for our future. New Zealand cannot succeed in the future if there are proportions of the population unable to participate in the new economy because of a lack of qualifications, ill health or discrimination.

“Accurately describing the barriers faced by people is an important first step to solving them. We must improve our knowledge base and the tools available to social policy researchers if we are to do this properly.

“In my own portfolios the Government invests over $13b annually on people. It is vital that we get more and better evidence about good and bad choices for the use of this investment.

“This year the Ministry of Social Development published the first Social Report which will regularly document how we are doing as a country across a series of social indicators. The Ministry is also working on other projects to improve the evidence base for social policy decisions.

“However It is widely recognised that there are still current areas of social policy where the knowledge base is inadequate and there is a general lack of research and information available.

“These issues have been considered by Cabinet recently and work underway to address them includes:

- identifying social policy knowledge needs;

- looking at ways to make offical data more readily accessible to social policy researchers; and,

- bringing together social policy researchers to share information and best practice.

“New Zealand is a small country of 3.8 million - if we our social - as well as our economic policies right we will have a great future,” Steve Maharey said.

ENDS


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