The report, titled Are You Well? Are We Safe? focuses on wellbeing and safety across five domains; our children, work & incomes, crime & punishment, social hazards, and housing. For each domain there is an outcome statement against which they measure progress, using publically available data. With their frontline experience and focus on outcomes experienced by the poorest and most vulnerable New Zealanders, the report also outlines gaps in outcomes for specific population segments.

A common theme from the report, and from Alan’s talk, was systemic racism and privilege, and the negative impact that this has on outcomes for all New Zealanders. He outlined the unconscious bias that exists in our communities and how this can be seen playing out in statistical data, for instance how police respond to crime.

Using rates of incarceration for Māori as a starting point, Alan walked back through the cascade of drivers (e.g. racism and privilege) that lead to such negative outcomes (e.g. imprisonment). Alan outlined how this cycle can be tracked right back to early childhood education and made the case for the importance of breaking this cycle. Alan identified a number of process steps prior to incarceration:

  • the higher rates at which Māori are charged for offences
  • lower rates of discharge without conviction
  • higher number of Māori youth charged with an offence compared with non-Māori

Before any interaction with the justice system, there are also the higher NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) rates and school suspensions, as well as lower NCEA achievement levels and enrolment in early childhood education, all compared to non-Māori.

The cycle is hard to break, but Alan argued that addressing inequality is a strategy for wellbeing, both for those involved but also for all New Zealanders. Across the five outcome areas, the Salvation Army’s view is that while there has been progress, it’s been minimal. High rates of family violence, low incomes set against an increasing cost of living and substance abuse are some of the issues they see. However, with the Government’s upcoming ‘wellbeing budget’ and the recent introduction of Treasury’s Living Standards framework, there is an opportunity to address inequality.

In Alan’s view, there are two ways to do this: increasing wellbeing for everyone or focusing on a specific population who are most in need. His preference is for the latter, giving hypothetical evidence that if we were able to reduce Māori incarceration rates to the level of non-Māori, we would see a 40% reduction in the prison population – an estimated cost reduction of $40 million per year.

Ending on an optimistic note, he shifted the focus to the need for action and challenged us all to be part of this new movement. In his view, “we will address the challenges we’ve got, and I hope we move forward with a renewed spirit to build a better society”.

View the full report, summary report, and data here.

For more information on Deloitte’s Social Impact Practice, visit our webpage.

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