Superu conference speech
E aku rangatira, tēnā koutou katoa. Ka nui te honore ki te mihi ki a koutou.
- A special welcome to:
- The Honourable Fiona Richardson, Australian Minister for Women, and for Prevention of Family Violence
- Dr Louise Morpeth, Co-Director of Dartington Social Research Unit in the United Kingdom
- Sheridan Waitai from MSD
- Speakers, facilitators, panel members, presenters and attendees.
- Superu staff, CE Clare Ward, and Donovan Clarke
- Superu Board members: Len Cook, Joanne Wilkinson, James Prescott.
It is an absolute pleasure to open Superu’s Evidence to Action Conference.
The theme this year – How do you know you’re making a difference on the ground?’ – reflects one of the key questions behind the governments social investment approach, and reinforces the importance of Superu’s role in commissioning research that evaluates the impact of social sector programmes.
Until recently government agencies knew too little about which programmes and services work well and which don’t.
They also weren’t aware where their programmes and services were overlapping or duplicating the work of another organisation.
The Governments social investment approach is about targeted, evidence-based investment that will secure better long-term results for the most vulnerable New Zealanders.
Rather than spending more, we want to know that we are spending right.
We need to know what works and what doesn’t.
We want to get better results from the billions of existing spending, and we want to know where to invest new money to make the most impact.
To know this we need to understand the effect that our services have on improving the lives of vulnerable people.
Only then can we improve our services and better target our investments.
Superu plays an important role in ensuring the right sort of evidence exists.
They secure evidence for the social sector agencies who are responsible for the policies and programmes many New Zealanders rely on.
Superu have informed work on the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project, they have completed an assessment of the roll-out of the first two Children’s Teams, and since becoming ‘Superu’ they have published five What Works reports, bringing together international and New Zealand research to address specific topics.
They have also delivered larger pieces of work such as the First 1000 Days report from the Growing Up In New Zealand longitudinal study, which has followed thousands of kiwi children from birth and provides an immensely valuable cohort representative of the New Zealand population.
Superu is currently piloting an Evaluation Fund for non-government service providers, and with Superu’s support we have developed a multi-year evidence and evaluation schedule of our key programmes and services.
And looking forward, Superu is also building its ability to commission specific social sector research questions to assist government in its decision making.
Over the last few years we have come to understand that information is incredibly valuable for determining policy decisions.
We know, for instance, that it is likely sole parents who go on a benefit as a teenager will cost $250,000 each over their lifetime in benefits alone.
And we also identified a certain group of children that will cost taxpayers an average of $320,000 by the time they are 35, and some will cost more than a million dollars.
These children are known to CYF’s, they have a parent known to Corrections, and someone in their household is on the benefit.
By identifying the risk factors such as these, we can ensure government spending is specific and targeted to funding interventions that have the best chance of changing that child’s future.
This is what our social investment approach is about- securing long term results for vulnerable New Zealanders.
This knowledge and information is starting to inform and drive spending decisions in the public sector, and it is having real results:
- since 2011 there has been a 38 per cent reduction in youth crime,
- the number of sole parents on a benefit is the lowest since 1988.
- There are 43,000 fewer children in a benefit dependent household than there were three years ago.
One of our biggest challenges has been, and will continue to be, ensuring our government departments focus more on getting better results for particular groups of New Zealanders.
Superu has a key role to play here. As a commissioning agent they can access a variety of groups, private sector research providers, and organisations who can deliver hard evidence to us that will be critical to our success in addressing the long-term drivers of hardship.
We want an adaptive and pioneering social sector, one that can respond to the changing needs of New Zealanders, and one that is not scared of out-of-the-box solutions.
To get there we require more evidence, better analysis, and new innovative approaches to our social challenges.
We want evidence that challenges the status quo. We want good ideas, new concepts, and ‘real life’ expertise from unexpected sources.
The more people who are involved in considering New Zealand’s ongoing social challenges, the better.
Evidence commissioned by Superu has the ability to challenge the norm and drive a programme of work that will get better results for our communities.
Our Community Investment Strategy, for instance, will create more targeted and efficient purchasing of the $331 million each year we invest into social sector services.
We want to know our funding is making a difference, and that will only happen if it is being invested in the right places.
The government sees Superu as an independent and innovative organisation that can provide governments with an honest evaluation about if and what they are funding is actually delivering results.
We firmly believe that we can improve the lives of children and families in New Zealand with our outcomes focused, evidence based approach.
This is the best way to solve problems, improve outcomes, and create strong and resilient communities.
Thank you very much for your time today.
Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.