The social service issues identified by the FACT project reflect central government’s national social service priorities. Over the next three to five years, government agencies will focus on services addressing1:
Educational under-achievement and its link to low socio-economic status Some of New Zealand’s children and young people are significantly under-achieving at school. The link between low educational achievement and low socio-economic status is stronger in New Zealand than in many other OECD countries.
Barriers to participation in sustainable employment We have seen strong employment growth in recent years, but there is still a group of New Zealanders who have complex needs and face multiple barriers to obtaining and keeping a job.
Disease risks arising from unhealthy eating and lack of activity One in five adults is obese, and a further 35% are overweight. More than 3,000 people are estimated to die each year from obesity-related diseases. Maori and Pacific peoples have higher rates of obesity than other ethnic groups.
Health and the social costs of tobacco, alcohol and other drug abuse About 4,700 New Zealanders die from smoking-related diseases. Almost one in six adults has hazardous drinking habits, and drinking is increasing among young people. More young people are using drugs at an early age. There has been a rapid increase in methamphetamine production and use.
The incidence and impact of family violence, and abuse and neglect of children and older persons Police attended 49,682 incidents of family violence in 2002/2003. Around 10 children a year die as a result of family violence. Elder abuse affects an estimated 2%-5% of New Zealand’s older people.
Tauranga already has programmes addressing some of these issues, such as unemployment, and the impact of unhealthy lifestyles on health, and encouraging results are being achieved. For this reason, the FACT project team has decided to focus on issues where there is the greatest scope to improve outcomes for families, particularly educational under-achievement and family violence.
1Ministry of Social Development, Opportunity for all New Zealanders, 2004.