Letter to Ministers, 16 March 2017

ComVoices, a network of national social service providers, has today written to the Prime Minister and the Social Development Minister calling on them to halt the current process which will see all MSD-contracted providers required to share personal client information from 1 July 2017.

The letter to ministers follows:


16 March 2017

Rt Hon Bill English, Prime Minister
Hon Anne Tolley, Minister of Social Development, Minister for Children
Hon Amy Adams, Minister Responsible for Social Investment
Hon Alfred Ngaro MP, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector

Individual Client Level Data: call to halt the current process

I wrote to you on 6 March with a proposal to work together to develop a robust and secure information system. That letter also asked you to call off the timeframe that would see all MSD contracted providers required to gather and share individual client data from 1 July 2017.

We have seen the announcement from MSD, issued yesterday, that this requirement will be deferred for specialist sexual violence services. We are pleased to see recognition of the difficulties of collecting and sharing data from sexual violence victims. We also note that MSD has said, in effect, that it does not yet have a safe and secure information system.

MSD, and ministers, are wrong to think that special considerations are limited to sexual violence services.

Many clients of social services have concerns about safety and confidentiality. Services such as problem gambling and other forms of addiction, mental health, suicide prevention, family violence and counselling all deal with sensitive information on vulnerable clients and this makes providing identifiable personal information to government agencies problematic at best and risky at worst.

Further, you should be aware that this decision does not protect all victims of sexual violence. Many do not access specialist services but seek help from other social services agencies, for a variety of reasons. These sexual violence victims will be caught up in the data sharing exercise.

We have already asked ministers to pause and allow government and providers to work through the issues that are of concern. This decision on sexual violence services shows this is possible and we are calling on the government to extend this to all social services.

Brenda Pilott
Chair, ComVoices

027 430 6016
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SSPA Submission - CYPF Amendment Bill

Parliament's Social Services Select Committee is considering a major Bill amending the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989. SSPA has made a submission to the Select Committee.

Read summary
Read submission

SSPA Alert

What's happening

The Minister of Social Development, Hon Anne Tolley, has released three Cabinet papers on the planned legislative changes to the CYFP Act. You can read them here. (Scroll down to section headed Legislative Reform . . .).

The first set of changes are in the Bill currently going through Parliament. A second Bill, due next month, will establish the operating model for the new Ministry of Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki and its core services: prevention, intensive intervention, care support, youth justice services, and transition support for young people.

You can read Anne Tolley's speech to SSPA Conference here.

Read more... 

Care of vulnerable children at the heart of SSPA conference

Some 150 social and community workers have gathered in Christchurch for the annual conference of Social Service Providers Aotearoa (SSPA), being held on 27 and 28 October.

SSPA represents nearly 200 non-profit agencies contracted by government to work with vulnerable children, young people and families in communities throughout New Zealand.
SSPA national manager Brenda Pilott says the focus of the conference is on the far-reaching changes proposed for the care and protection of children, and what these this willl mean for the work of non-profit agencies.

She says while there is a lot of uncertainty and some well-founded concerns, the sector welcomes the government's aim to to fully involve children in decisions about their lives, and to extend the age of support for young people as they move into adulthood.

The Minister of Social Development, Anne Tolley, will address the conference tomorrow and can expect many questions about the changes and the proposed new ministry.
Brenda Pilott says she expects conference participants will also question the minister about the new requirement that service providers pass on client information to the Ministry of Social Development.

"This raises a very important and challenging debate about the relationship between the government and non-profit agencies and their clients."

Community Investment Strategy updated

MSD has updated the Community Investment Strategy. 

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This contains some details on funding which may be expected to be redirected to fit MSD priorities, including family violence and sexual violence services, and youth development. There is reference to more flexibility in contract arrangements, "with a focus on provider sustainability and results". MSD states they are developing a "tailored contracting framework that has flexible purchasing, pricing, procurement and contract arrangement components" as well as being simplified and streamlined. We would be interested in your feedback on how this is working in practice. 

A summary of the funding by category is here

The list of programmes 'reprioritised' to Whanau Ora is shown here