Ka pū te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi — The old net is cast aside whilst the new net goes fishing
(Download the Full State of the Nation Report or Summary from the links at the bottom of the page)
The 2020 year was a year rocked by a worldwide pandemic and consequently a year of massive change in our world and our nation. Producing a State of the Nation Report in this context is tricky.
Aotearoa / New Zealand has come out of it comparatively well so far. Other nations have done so much worse. The economy was hit much less severely than first anticipated and very few people contracted the virus. The increased use of technology, such as conference calls, meant reduced travel and an increased level of connectedness for people in isolated settings to all kinds of help and support. Families spent unscheduled and often very rich time together. The nation collectively pulled together and Government policies like the wage subsidies softened the economic blow for many – at least for a time – and that is only to highlight a few of the positives.
While the whole country heeded the call for our ‘team of 5 million’ to come together to respond to the Covid19 health threat, but it is very clear that burden of the social impacts of the pandemic is not being shared equally. Many of the children in the ‘team’ were missing out before the impacts began and indicators available point to a worsening in key areas.
The disruption of the Covid19 pandemic is huge and has negatively affected all of the areas we monitor. The scale of the disruption to our social and economic systems has tended to outweigh the positive progress that has been made when assessing overall progress. The impacts are also very unequally shared and creating pressures that are likely to increase inequalities of income and wealth.
The crime and punishment section looks at the recent changes related to crime and criminal justice in New Zealand. The changes in offending, victimisation, conviction, imprisonment and recidivism continue to reflect the complexities in addressing the justice system. At the end of 2019 the government pledged to take a new direction for criminal justice reform however with the backdrop of Covid-19 and Election 2020 there was minimal movement in regard to key policy areas for criminal justice.
There are four activities that we monitor in the Social Hazards section: alcohol, illicit drugs, gambling and problem debt. All these activities are enjoyed by various people in society. Most of these actions are legal, but heavily regulated. Some are illegal. But all these activities have an addictive element that can create serious harm for the person engaging with it, as well as for their whānau and other people around them. All these four areas are also ones in which we provide various social and Christian spiritual support services across the country.
New Zealanders know that the housing picture in our nation is complex and challenging. Media stories and government reports on housing – from the ‘sharper’ end of the housing continuum of homelessness and living in motels, right through to house sale prices and home ownership – are seemingly in front us almost every day. It is almost as if we are as a nation on a proverbial treadmill when it comes to housing. On this treadmill, there is some movement, some progress, lots of resistance, but also, we seem to not be effectively moving forward to properly address the housing challenges.
Over the past three years The State of The Nation report has looked at specific outcomes for Māori in the wellbeing measures used in this report. The best results we look for are improved social wellbeing outcomes for all combined with a reduction in the disparity between outcomes for Māori and non- Māori.
The disruption of the Covid19 pandemic has affected outcomes to varying degrees, worsening outcomes overall in some areas as well as deepening existing already disparities. Even with these negative impacts, there are also some hopeful signs of progress emerging.