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Families Commission’s new mandate to identify what works

Families Commission’s new mandate to identify what works and what doesn’t

New legislation passed yesterday will see the Families Commission working to increase the use of quality evidence to inform better decisions and promote debate on key social sector issues to improve the lives of New Zealand communities, families and whānau.

Chief Families Commissioner Belinda Milnes says, “Complex social issues deserve good quality evidence to enable better decisions to be made. We want decision makers to know what works and what doesn’t.”

Under the legislation, the Commission has a new monitoring, evaluation, and research function, to determine where evidence and research would help decide or achieve Government priorities, and to commission research and manage research contracts, in the social sector.

The new role of the Families Commission is to increase the use of evidence by people working across the social sector so that they can make better decisions about funding, policies or services – which in turn will help New Zealanders, New Zealand’s communities, families and whānau.

“We do this by bridging the gap between funders, researchers and users to ensure we have quality evidence on the burning social issues, and it is shared, accessible and used.”

Ms Milnes says the Commission is well placed to fill this role as a small, impartial and autonomous crown entity that works across agencies and across sectors.

The Families Commission also retains its advocacy role, based on the best available evidence.

“We’ll be influencing social sector decisions that impact on families and whanau. And we’ll continue to promote informed debate on key issues. For example –we’ve been advocating to increase the resilience of children, and we’re promoting public debate on family violence funding.”

The Chief Families Commissioner says the findings of the annual Status of Families and Whanau Report will also drive the Commission’s future research programme.

The 2014 Status of Families and Whanau Report will focus on family trends, attitudes and aspirations, using Wellbeing Measurement Frameworks developed the Commission.

Ms Milnes says, “This work will help policy makers and practitioners to better understand family and whānau wellbeing and increase debate and interest on the role and value of families and family life.”

Other changes include a new panel of independent social science experts to provide guidance and ensure robust academic peer review of research undertaken by or on behalf of the Commission.

“This is an exciting time and we’re looking to make a real impact”


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