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Dr H Gifford, Dr A Boulton, Dr S Triggs, Prof C Cunningham Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga International Indigenous Development Conference Auckland, 27-30 June.

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Presentation on theme: "Dr H Gifford, Dr A Boulton, Dr S Triggs, Prof C Cunningham Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga International Indigenous Development Conference Auckland, 27-30 June."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr H Gifford, Dr A Boulton, Dr S Triggs, Prof C Cunningham Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga International Indigenous Development Conference Auckland, June 2012 Tipping the balance: the impact of the Working for Families (WFF) policy on Māori whānau

2 Background Three year study with an overarching aim to identify whether Working for Families (WFF) has contributed towards whānau ora Funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) and the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FoRST) Collaboration between an iwi-based research centre & a university

3 The Team From WRMHD Dr Heather Gifford (Lead) & Dr Amohia Boulton From the Research Centre for Māori Health and Development, Massey University Dr Sue Triggs & Prof Chris Cunningham

4 Additional Aims To undertake new analysis using an existing and on-going Māori dataset Best Outcomes for Māori: Te Hoe Nuku Roa (THNR) THNR is a stratified, random, longitudinal survey of Māori households, initiated in a series of waves beginning in 1994 Conduct high-quality research to inform policy development for Māori

5 Background to the Policy Introduced in 2004, by a Labour government Attempted to address a number of social policy goals (Johnson 2005) reduce child poverty improve the incomes of working families strengthen work incentives for unemployed parents make it easier for families to access financial assistance Johnson, N. (2005). ‘Working for Families’ in New Zealand: Some Early Lessons. Accessed 26 August 2008

6 Components of WFF

7 THNR Analysis - 3 Phases Identification of households in the THNR dataset with characteristics qualifying them to receive WFF Descriptive quantitative analysis of the longitudinal dataset of Māori households Collection of new qualitative data on whānau wellbeing

8 Methodology THNR survey collected data on broad range of issues including Economic Living Standards Indicator (ELSI SF ) The first part of the research examined changes in living standards of whānau using data from households interviewed in Wave 4 ( ) The second part of the research examined changes in the living circumstances of households between Wave 4 and Wave 5 of THNR and looked at the effect of these changes on living standards

9 Sample Whanau typeWave 4 sampleWave 5 sample Before WFF After WFFTotal WFF-eligible Not eligible Total

10 Results WFF- eligible whānau demonstrated the need for financial support prior to the policy’s existence, the living standards of WFF-eligible whānau were markedly and significantly lower than ineligible Māori households beneficiary families with dependant children were the worst-off followed by other beneficiary households (excl SAs) and low-income working families with dependant children

11 Results WFF eligible whānau experienced an improvement in income adequacy a decline in the proportion of whānau whose income was ‘not enough’ to meet their everyday needs an equivalent increase in the ‘just enough’ category housing satisfaction also improved a higher proportion of families having to economise on the purchase of fruit and vegetables in 2011 compared to 2004

12 Results Whānau dynamics play an important part in income adequacy changes in household circumstances such as family formation and splitting fluctuation in labour force status between full-time and part-time work and between work, parenting, study and looking for work role of whānau in caring for whānau members and/or giving money to help whānau members

13 Results The impact of WFF was significant but modest, and possibly fragile WFF payments do make a contribution towards improving income adequacy however gains may be fragile, as the economic situation of low -income families remains one of considerable hardship economising on basic necessities such as fruit and vegetables, and visits to the doctor, evident

14 Results Evident tensions between WFF policy objectives conceptualised as a tool to target those experiencing social disadvantage with a view to increasing overall living standards and reducing poverty in the community however a divergence between the ‘making work pay’ and the ‘income adequacy’ aims of the WFF policy is apparent, with significant impact on Māori

15 Conclusions WFF targeted whānau who were financially limited but excluded the most economically disadvantaged i.e. beneficiaries, and therefore the children of beneficiaries A discernible but “modest” improvement in income adequacy for those in receipt of WFF during the period

16 Conclusions A research setting of considerable complexity Policy: inherently complex, with inter-related components, which changed during the period of examination Context: a time of social and economic change, including recession and changing government Whānau: dynamic entities, moving in and out of employment, changing household types

17 Acknowledgements The research participants Research Centre for Māori Health and Development Health Research Council of New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology

18 For further information Dr Heather Gifford Whakauae Research for Māori Health and Development Publications available on


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