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Steve Maharey: Maharey Notes - Issue 85

Steve Maharey: Maharey Notes - Issue 85

Maharey Notes - Issue 85

Hitting The Mark On Employment Growth

Future Of Work Workshop

Parenting Council Welcomed

Benefits, Super To Increase On April 1

Saving For Retirement

Cyf Baseline Review

Performance-Based Research Fund Panels Appointed

Tvnz Charter And Advertisers

Strengths-Based Social Work Practice

HITTING THE MARK ON EMPLOYMENT GROWTH The latest update of the government's employment strategy shows that New Zealand is continuing to hit the mark in maximising job opportunities and creating the right conditions for employment growth. The report records solid job growth in the year to December 2002, with the number of people in employment rising by 44,400 to 1,886,000 workers ? more that at any time in New Zealand's history.

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said while New Zealand has been experiencing strong job growth, there a still a number of challenges in the labour market. Job numbers are up and our unemployment and labour force participation rates are tracking very well in historical terms. In 2002:

the number of people in employment rose by 44,000; the number of job seekers registered with the Ministry of Social Development fell by 12.1 percent and it assisted 52,922 people into stable employment; and New Zealand's official unemployment rate fell to a 15-year low of 4.9 percent in the December 2002 quarter.

This year the Employment Strategy has been amended to put more emphasis on securing sustainable employment for more New Zealanders. A new goal has also been added to encourage more young people, mature workers, women, and people with disabilities to participate in the workforce. As demand for labour continues to grow, New Zealand will increasingly need to depend on the ability of a wider range of people to participate in the workforce.

On the web: Employment Strategy: Progress to Date July 2001 ? December 2002, www.dol.govt.nz/publication-view.asp?ID=141

FUTURE OF WORK WORKSHOP Steve Maharey told a workshop on the future working patterns last week that improving skills and knowledge in new Zealand's work force is a key step to getting a better balance between work and home life. "Work is a central aspect of our lives ? but it should not be the sole focus. A smarter workforce is able to be more productive, produce high value products and services, generate greater income and can afford to ensure a better balance between working and home life."

The government has established a Future of Work programme within the Department of Labour to look at these issues. While labour market change is unavoidable, the government wants give business, unions and others practical advice about how to make the best of the future. Further information is available on line at www.futureofwork.govt.nz.

PARENTING COUNCIL WELCOMED Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey is welcoming the formation today of the Parenting Council ? a new lobby group which aims to empower parents and give a higher public profile to the importance of positive parenting. Steve Maharey hosted the Council's formal launch at Parliament last week. Foundation members of the Council are the Parents Centre, Parenting with Confidence, the Pacific Foundation, Parent to Parent and "Triple P". The Council is being financially supported by the Tindall Foundation.

Steve Maharey said the government agrees that sound parenting is essential if children are to grow up to be dependable and successful adults. The formation of the Parenting Council signals a resurgence of interest in parenting issues that the government welcomes. The government currently invests around $43 million in parent support and education. It is expected that this investment will grow with the formation of the Families Commission next year which will have a very strong positive parenting focus.

BENEFITS, SUPER TO INCREASE ON APRIL 1 Benefit payments, student allowances, New Zealand superannuation/veterans pension and community services card thresholds increase by 2.72 percent from 1 April as part of the annual cost of living adjustment.

On the web:

schedule of new superannuation and main benefit rates, www.beehive.govt.nz/maharey Community Services Card information, www.moh.govt.nz

SAVING FOR RETIREMENT Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey last week met with the members of the expert panel advising the government on ways to encourage greater private provision for retirement income. The government has guaranteed a basic living standard for older New Zealanders by reversing the superannuation cuts of the 1990s and establishing the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to assist in meeting the cost of an ageing population. The government is not looking at cutting superannuation rates or raising the qualifying age which is currently set at 65. However it is still important for people to save for retirement during their working lives so that they can enjoy a full range of experiences. The Periodic Report Group has been asked for advice on the practical steps needed to achieve this goal. The Group's report is due by 31 December 2003.

CYF BASELINE REVIEW Cabinet has agreed to a request from Child, Youth and Family (CYF) to conduct a baseline review of the department. The review will determine whether the department receives the appropriate level of resources to carry out the activities for which it is responsible. Baseline reviews are a normal occurrence for new departments. CYF has only been in operation as a separate department since 1 October 1999. The views of the department's stakeholders and staff will be canvassed as part of the baseline review.

PERFORMANCE-BASED RESEARCH FUND PANELS APPOINTED The Tertiary Education Commission has appointed 153 national and international researchers to 12 peer review panels being established to support the implementation of the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF). The panels will evaluate the quality of the research contributions of those involved in teaching degree-level programmes and/or undertaking research in tertiary education organisations. The introduction of the PBRF will see existing funds intended for research, but currently included as part of the block student grant (EFTS), distributed to institutions on the basis of research quality. The peer review process will assess quality based on a variety of measures including research outputs, peer esteem factors and contribution to the development of new researchers and a vital high-quality research environment. An additional $36.272 million will be invested in the Performance Bas

TVNZ CHARTER AND ADVERTISERS Television New Zealand's (TVNZ) new charter will be good for advertisers, Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey told the annual general meeting of the Association of New Zealand Advertisers last week.

Under the Television New Zealand Act, TVNZ is no longer restricted to the pursuit of purely commercial objectives, but it is still intent on attracting high levels of advertising revenue. Steve Maharey said delivering a wider range of audiences to advertisers is critical to the industry's success and it also fulfils the government's objective of ensuring TVNZ's programming choices have wide appeal, while meeting the needs of particular audiences who have been ignored in the past. As a chartered public service broadcaster TVNZ can be expected to repeat the success of similar networks overseas, like the BBC, and continue to build its audiences. It is expected that this will be particularly valued by advertiser since, TVNZ, as the national broadcaster, can deliver major audiences in an increasingly fragmented media environment.

On the current controversy surrounding advertising of alcohol, food and medicines Steve Maharey cautioned the industry to act responsibly. The current debate has generated genuine public concern because of the problems that can emerge from exposure to irresponsible images and information. While the advertising industry has a good record of acting responsibly on these issues, there is a very low tolerance for abuses of these codes amongst both the general public and parliamentarians. In an environment of increasing public scrutiny Steve Maharey said it is timely for advertisers to examine whether they are pushing the boundaries further than are tolerable.

STRENGTHS-BASED SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE Child, Youth and Family (CYF) Chief Executive Jackie Pivac spoke to the recent Gathering Momentum conference on strengths-based social work practice on behalf of Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey recently. CYF is moving to adopt a strengths-based approach as part of its New Directions change management plan. The conference was the first to be held in New Zealand on strengths-based practice. It was attended by social work practitioners and a range of international experts.

With international experts in the country, CYF took the opportunity to arrange two workshops with its senior managers and policy and practice advisors to discuss the challenges for statutory agencies in implementing a strengths-based approach.

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