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Budget 2003: Social science research funding

Budget 2003: Social science research funding package announced

A project to network New Zealand’s leading tertiary sector social scientists and to share their expertise with policy makers heads up an $8.6m package of initiatives announced today.

The $5.208m project will link leading researchers in the tertiary sector to build up critical mass in priority areas in the social sciences aligned with the government’s goals. The social sciences include a range of disciplines which can make a significant contribution to New Zealand’s social, economic and environmental goals. Most research capability lies in New Zealand universities and because little external funding is currently available for social science, research projects are generally project-based and often not well linked to the needs of potential users, including social policy analysts in government departments. The capability development project will coordinate research efforts to achieve maximum benefits.

Speaking at the Social Policy Research and Evaluation conference in Wellington this morning, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said grounded research is fundamental to developing good policy.

“Government and the community need to be better informed by research and analysis about social problems and solutions. This project will encourage networking and collaboration across the country’s foremost research teams and with relevant government departments.

“It will identify and address key gaps in social science research in New Zealand. We also expect that it will lead to a pool of more highly skilled social science graduates able to take up positions in the public service, community organisations and academia.

“On-going operational funding of $1.5m annually is being provided to support the project and a one-off capital grant of $500,000 will be available in 2004. The Tertiary Education Commission will call for proposals later this year. Additional funding will also be invested through the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology in the Budget to support social science research.

. . / 2 “Several other specific research initiatives are also being funded in the Budget to give the government better information on which to make policy decisions: a new national clearinghouse for information on family violence will be established in line with the recommendations of Te Rito, the New Zealand Family Violence Strategy which both governnment and non-government agencies will be able to access ($2.1m over four years); additional questions will be added to Statistics New Zealand’s Household Labour Force Survey to give us a better picture of the extent to which New Zealanders’ are particpating in education and training ($0.5m over four years); and a research project will be undertaken to examine sickness and invalids benefit dynamics, population and growth factors and to inform the government’s welfare reform programme ($0.400 over 2003/04 and 2004/05).

“The information gathered in these initiatives will plug the knowledge gaps in key government social development reform programmes now underway. The funding package builds on previous work and demonstrates this government’s commitment to evidence-based policy and practice.

“Tomorrow the government introduces legislation to establish the Families Commission and will announce the funding it has been allocated in the Budget. The new Commission will also make a major contribution to our social policy knowledge base gathering information about New Zealand families and the steps we should take to improve the lives of New Zealand childen,” Steve Maharey said.

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