The Tom Column - Working to improve the lives of all New Zealanders

Columns
Monday, March 21, 2016

We all know to run good businesses and community organisations we need to set goals and targets.  This is true even in our own lives, whether it be setting personal goals or vocational aspirations, having clear targets of what you want to achieve means you can measure your success or how far you are from reaching your goals.
This is no different to Government, and it is imperative we know what we are wanting to achieve so we can regularly measure how well we are doing and what we need to continue to do to improve the lives of New Zealanders.
Nearly 4 years ago the Government set 10 challenging targets for the public service to get better results from taxpayer’s money.  These are referred to as the Better Public Services targets. 
These targets are keeping ministers and agencies accountable and are helping to reduce long-term welfare dependency, support vulnerable children, boost skills and employment, reduce crime and improve interaction with Government.
We are the first administration to set public targets to be measured against, and our progress is reported every six months. The latest update confirms we are heading in the right direction. 
An example of these targets in the Education sector is where we have seen more young people getting the qualifications they need to go into employment or on to further study. In 2008, just 68 per cent of 18 year-olds had NCEA Level 2 or equivalent.  Provisional 2015 results show 84.4 per cent of 18 year-olds achieved NCEA Level 2 or equivalent last year – on track to pass the Governments Better Public Services target of 85 per cent by 2017.
National has been focusing on improving performance in the schooling system to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed.  We want every young New Zealander to have the skills and qualifications they need to successfully participate in the modern economy.
However, despite crime in New Zealand falling to its lowest rate since 1978, our rates of family violence are appallingly high.
Last year alone, 100,000 incidences were reported to Police – around one every five minutes.
The National-led Government is taking action across the board to better protect families and victims of family violence.
Ministers from across 16 portfolios have come together to form the Ministerial Group on Family and Sexual Violence, which will oversee a whole-of government strategy for addressing family and sexual violence. 
Within the justice part of this work, we’re overhauling our family violence laws. Almost 500 individuals and organisations made submissions on our discussion document. We’re exploring options and will look to make announcements around our changes soon.
But it’s not just about the law. We have improved judges’ access to information in family violence cases by improving information sharing regulations.
A new disclosure scheme has also been created to make it easier for Police to release a person’s violent criminal past to a concerned partner or friend. This gives people the ability to do something to help protect their loved ones.
We are looking at introducing a new standalone strangulation offence that would have a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.
National has been working hard to make Kiwis safer in their homes and communities. We’re making good progress and will continue our relentless focus on preventing and reducing family violence.