State of the State

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Building New Zealand’s social capital family-by-family

The latest article in Deloitte’s State of the State 2018 series explores how systemic changes in the delivery of social services can better help Kiwi families in crisis

Wellington, 26 June 2018 – Released today, the fourth article in Deloitte’s State of the State 2018 series examines the role of social services in building social capital for Kiwi families. The article, entitled “Building New Zealand’s social capital: A family-by-family approach”, explores how systemic changes to better reach families most in need of additional support can contribute to greater wellbeing for New Zealand.

While the majority of families enjoy a comparatively high quality of life and are supported by our public and social services to achieve their aspirations, at the same time we have worryingly high levels of child poverty and homelessness in New Zealand.

A small percentage of Kiwi families live in precarious circumstances where their family’s fortunes could change at any moment, and a smaller percentage live in a state characterised by chronic crises, with a low quality of life, preventing them from achieving their aspirations. These families typically have a range of high and complex needs, and are clients of multiple social service agencies.

According to Deloitte consulting partner Adithi Pandit, the current system is not meeting the needs of this cohort of families who are experiencing ongoing disadvantage and this affects our overall levels of wellbeing.

“In our current social services system numerous government and non-governmental agencies offer services that are more like products, and the client’s needs are understood mainly in relation to the scope of the product rather than what a family needs more holistically,” says Ms Pandit.

Families that are more secure are able to analyse and organise their needs to align with the system. But for families that are in crisis or at risk, the inability of the system to meet their needs in one area can spill over into their ability to make use of the products and services from other parts of the system.

“For example, the lack of clean, dry, safe housing impacts children’s ability to learn, the parents’ ability to maintain employment and the family’s need for healthcare,” says Ms Pandit.

Deloitte’s Social Impact Practice has looked at a range of social service delivery models, including New Zealand’s own Whānau Ora and Strengthening Families approaches, which have the potential to improve the lives of families, with a particular focus on families in crisis. This analysis found the greatest opportunities for enhancements in a model that has been trialled extensively in Denmark, called the family-by-family approach.

The family-by-family approach centres on an individual “navigator” who acts on behalf of the family to work with them to purchase and secure services. This approach could build on existing models such as Whānau Ora and Strengthening Families, by increasing the purchasing power and agency influence of the navigator, extending the domains that the navigator covers to all family related social supports, and creating more structured interfaces between the agencies and the navigator.

The Danish model has achieved considerable success. Every municipality that has implemented it has seen significant improvements in both educational and workforce participation – two key measures of success – among the participating families.

“Importantly, it has achieved these outcomes while simultaneously reducing cost of service provision, finding that many of the interventions previously in place for families were operating at cross-purposes to one another,” says Ms Pandit.

 “In New Zealand we have relied for too long on the willingness of those who work in the social sector to go “above and beyond” to find ways to meet the needs of their clients, often in spite of the current system. We see the family-by-family approach as a credible and practical first step to address some of the complex and long-standing problems that create intergenerational poverty and dysfunction,” concludes Ms Pandit.

To read this article, as well as the first three articles in the series, and to sign up to receive the remaining articles, please visit our State of the State New Zealand 2018 webpage at


Media Contact:

Alexandra Grace
Communications Manager
Deloitte New Zealand
04 470 3770

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