Reviewing Welfare & Social Sector Policy and Reform


Does the New Zealand welfare system need an overhaul? Will the Government’s proposed changes achieve reduced reliance on benefits, or only make things more difficult for beneficiaries? This carefully researched conference will examine the main concerns in New Zealand’s welfare and social policies, and how they impact on the many varied demographic groups.

Our expert panel of speakers include:

Hon Tariana Turia, Minister for Community and Voluntary Sector
Diana Crossan, Retirement Commissioner
Leith Comer, CEO, Te Puni Kokiri

And representatives of: Chen Palmer, Alliance Party, Labour Party, New Zealand Business Round Table, Parker Duignan, Maxim Institute, Kim Workman & Associates, University of Auckland, AUT.

This will be your opportunity to discuss the direction for social and welfare policy, while networking with like- minded people. With analysis of international trends and overseas developments, this event is an unique opportunity to discuss the way ahead for New Zealand.

SPECIAL OFFER! 2 for 1: Register two people from your organisation at the same time and the second attends free of charge!

PLUS Early Bird Special! Save $300 off the full conference price by registering and paying by 5pm on 10th May!


Agenda: Day 1


Registration & Coffee


Opening remarks from the Chair

John Sinclair, Senior Policy Specialist, Chen Palmer and Partners


Monitoring, accountability and evaluation of Welfare and Social Policy and reform

It is easy to insist that monitoring and evaluation of welfare and social sector policy reform is essential but doing so presents significant technical challenges. A transparent framework is needed for such work which identifies:
• Indicators different departments and agencies will be held to account for
• Outcomes and results which are being sought
• The types of more general monitoring and evaluation which will be undertaken.
The use of the Easy Outcomes, Systematic Outcomes Management framework for monitoring, accountability and evaluation of social sector reform will be discussed with examples from its use with New Zealand government departments.

Dr Paul Duignan, Principal, Evaluation Strategist


New Zealand - The Social Laboratory

This session will examine the changing parameters of social policy in New Zealand The purpose of this approach is to acknowledge that over the past 150 years New Zealand has on occasions proved to be one of the most socially innovative countries in the ‘developed’ world. The title of The Social Laboratory was bestowed on this country by politicians and commentators from abroad.
Conditions today have radically changed and these changes now present the country with a significant challenge. Ian’s interpretation of this challenge is framed in terms of a social deficit which stems from the country’s population profile (especially its social and cultural diversity) the changing patterns of families and household structures and the way which these systems intersect with economic and social policy.

Professor Ian Shirley, Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Development Professor - Institute of Public Policy, AUT University


Morning tea


The US Welfare Reforms - what can New Zealand learn from them?

The 1996 welfare reforms changed the face of US social assistance programmes. This session examines what major changes were made, and what results were achieved. At the hub of the reforms was Aid to Families with Dependent Children, loosely equivalent to New Zealand’s domestic purposes benefit. Because the US and New Zealand share in high rates of teenage birth and single parent families, the reforms have particular relevance for policy-makers here.

Lindsay Mitchell, Welfare Commentator


Ministerial Address: The background to the Whanau Ora proposal

The Minister will explain the background to Whanau Ora, the reasons for its conception and the problems it is designed to address.

Hon Tariana Turia, Minister for Community and Voluntary Sector

No presentation materials are available


A helping hand or a kick in the pants? Different perspectives on unemployment and beneficiaries

This session seeks to examine common assumptions about unemployment and beneficiaries, and offers different perspectives on solving current problems around work, inequality and social wellbeing. Unemployment levels have been consistently higher in the last 30 years in New Zealand than in the 30 years previous to that. In addition, trends such as casualisation, a deregulated economy and advances in technology have impacted on New Zealand society.
• Are the unemployed or beneficiaries making a lifestyle choice or are they the inevitable casualties of changing circumstances?
• Does a focus on paid work downgrade the status of those in unpaid work such as parenting or caring for relatives?
• Are employment and welfare issues technical issues best left to the technocrats or do they have a greater meaning in a democratic society?

Victor Billot, Unionist and National Spokesperson, Alliance Party




Panel Discussion: Providing input into the development of social policy and the welfare system: the Whole–of–Government approach

How can agencies work collectively to address specific shortcomings in our social wellbeing?
• What are the major challenges to social policy as we enter a new decade?
• Bringing together the fragmented social sector to work together

Anne Kelly, Policy Advisor, New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services
John Sinclair, Senior Policy Specialist, Chen Palmer and Partners
Roger Kerr, Executive Director, New Zealand Business Roundtable


Improving outcomes in NZ through effective and efficient inter-sectoral collaboration

• Achieve alignment between the strategies and policies of different agencies
• Employ strategies to nurture partnerships and foster dialogue between different agencies
• Utilising a shared knowledge base to ensure alignment and effective delivery
• Refine processes and reduce compliance costs when collaborating with other agencies

Owen Lloyd, Iwi Negotiator, Kaitiaki


Afternoon tea


Youth Development partnership - examining the strategies to improve education and health and crime prevention

Carmel Sepuloni, Labour Party List MP, New Zealand Parliament - Members


Sickness benefit – what can we learn from the UK’s recent reforms?

In October 2008, sweeping reforms were made to the old Incapacity Benefit in the UK, and it was estimated that of the 300,000 people applying for the new Employment and Support Allowance, 200,000 were immediately turned down, and only approx 25,000 were told by medical experts that they were not fit for any kind of work. Sickness beneficiaries in New Zealand have almost doubled in the last decade and the proposed reform would see a much stricter medical assessment regime. This session will examine the current situation, how the reform in the UK was implemented, and discuss the way ahead to reduce beneficiaries in New Zealand.

Greg Fleming, CEO, Maxim Institute


End of day one & networking drinks

Agenda: Day 2


Opening remarks from the Chair

John Sinclair, Senior Policy Specialist, Chen Palmer and Partners


Keynote Address: Whanau Ora – implications for New Zealand

Intended by the Maori Party to apply only to Maori, Whanau Ora is now expected to apply to all New Zealanders. It is a policy that will allow private providers to deliver social services to families in need in a holistic way rather than families using three or four different government agencies. The policy is expected to roll out from July and will see private organisations - such as trusts - take over the health and social services needs of family within their communities from government departments.
The taskforce has recommended an independent Whanau Ora Trust be set up to manage the programme. It would report to a specific Whanau Ora minister and get public money, with which it would deliver the programme including managing contracts with providers. The trust would set up a layer of “regional panels” to monitor the success of the programme. This session will examine the progress of Whanau Ora and what it is intended to achieve.

Leith Comer, CEO, Te Puni Kokiri


Developing a policy mix to maximise the contribution of all agencies to social policy and the welfare system to best assist Maori communities

Building in capability is of vital importance to help Maori Communities achieve their aims. Understanding their needs and developing policies to match is a key step in achieving those outcomes.
• How well is the social policy mix addressing key concerns?
• Identifying the problems
• Developing new initiatives to ensure better outcomes

Kim Workman, Families Commissioner, Families Commission


Morning tea


Working for it actually working for families?

Dr Susan St John, Senior Lecturer Economics, The University of Auckland


Retirement income: Can New Zealand cope with the ageing population?

New Zealand, like all OECD countries, is facing an ever aging demographic, as birth rates fall and life expectancy increases. While the recent survey for the Social Development Ministry showed those over 65 had the lowest hardship rate, an increasingly elderly population puts an ever bigger strain on resources.
• Can superannuation keep pace with the growing population?
• How do we need to adjust policies to maximise the benefit to our senior citizens?

Diana Crossan, Retirement Commissioner




Looking back to look forward: How welfare in New Zealand has evolved

Tracing its beginnings to the economic turmoil of the 1930s, the New Zealand welfare state has grown and evolved over the past decades into the current welfare and social system we know today. This session will chart this growth and evolution, highlighting the people, ideas and circumstances that have been instrumental to the creation and application of social policies in New Zealand as well as the major social and cultural impacts that these social policies have had on the peoples of New Zealand. Knowledge of the changes to welfare and social policy that have been wrought in the past and of the effects that such changes have had on the New Zealand populace will both help us to understand better New Zealand’s current welfare and social system and enable us to learn from the triumphs and challenges of the past so as to make better decisions today about future reforms and actions.

Jane Smith, Researcher, Maxim Institute


Linking Research with the development of social policy

In order to develop social policies that address today’s concerns, it is necessary to draw on sound research. This session will examine the spectrum of academic and policy research, and consider how research can better aid the development of social policy.
• What makes research relevant to policy making?
• What can agencies do to encourage more productive research?
• Examine strategies for making the most of research opportunities and constraints

Prof Marilyn Waring, Professor of Public Policy, AUT University

Speaker has declined permission for her material to be online


Afternoon tea


Working together for better social outcomes

Claire Dale, Executive Member - Child Poverty Group, The University of Auckland


Closing remarks from the Chair and end of conference


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