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Waikato report on deprivation an ‘eye opener’

Areas within the Waikato region rank among the most deprived areas in New Zealand, according to a Waikato report on the new Index of Multiple Deprivation.

The report called Socioeconomic Deprivation in the Waikato Region – using the Index of Multiple Deprivation to understand the drivers of deprivation was presented to the Waikato Plan Strategic Partners’ Forum at Waikato Regional Council.

Waikato Plan programme manager Rachael McMillan, who wrote and presented the report, told those in attendance that it is easy to focus on deprivation at a regional scale but miss pockets at a local level that deserve greater government attention.

“This report shows us that the mix of drivers for deprivation across the territorial authorities are totally different. You can’t do a blanket policy across everything. We need to be dealing at community level.”

The New Zealand Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) was released by the University of Auckland last year. It was developed using data from government departments, Census statistics and methods comparable to current international deprivation indices to measure different forms of disadvantage. It looks at 28 indicators which are grouped into seven domains of deprivation: employment, income, crime, housing, health, education and access to services. These combine to create an overall IMD ranking for the 5958 data zones that the country is divided into. The index also ranks deprivation per domain.

“The report has thrown up some surprising statistics that just goes to show that even district level deprivation can mask real local issues,” said Mrs McMillan.

For instance, the Matamata-Piako district overall has low deprivation but has the second highest deprived data zone in the country for education; similarly, Hamilton has the second most deprived data zones for crime and income, and the third most deprived for health.

“It’s a bit of an eye opener, and it’s great to know this resource exists and that we can access it online.”

The Waikato report was compiled as a tool to help drive decision making for targeting funding and initiatives to improve social outcomes.

“The IMD is part of building an understanding of our communities and what their needs are. We need a grounded approach to guide decision making and this tool adds to the building blocks of our knowledge,” said Mrs McMillan.

The report showed that education was a big issue in the Waikato, as was income, crime and health.

“Housing is better but everything else is worse than the New Zealand median.

“The IMD helps to show where we should focus our efforts.”

Waikato District Health Board senior funding manager (Strategy and Funding) Regan Webb said the report was “very helpful” for the DHB to use in its planning processes. “We are currently developing our 10 year health systems plan to ensure the services we provide and fund best meet the health needs of our population into the future,” Mr Webb said. “It will also support us in our collaborative work with councils on joint policy and planning for local communities.

“We want to ensure that everyone has access to good quality healthcare no matter who they are or where they live, and that they can live long healthy lives. The information in this report will help us do this.”

Smart Waikato Trust chief executive Mary Jensen said: “With our work with 22 secondary schools around the region as part of Secondary School Employer Partnerships, we do see the need to have individual place-based policies. The disparity across the region is enormous. If it can be pinpointed through this type of work that is very useful.”

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