Auditor-General seeking feedback on draft plan, includes family violence and Operation Respect

Tue 04 May 2021

The Office of the Auditor-General is inviting feedback on their proposed work programme. The includes review of work to reduce family violence and the first audit of Operation Respect.

The Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) has outlined their proposed work programme in their Draft annual plan 2021/22. The plan sets out the proposed discretionary work programme. This is work the OAG does in addition to audits of public organisations. Feedback is invited on the proposed work programme outlined in Part 4 of the Draft annual plan

The closing date for giving feedback on the plan is 28 May 2021.

The Draft annual plan is based on five key areas:

1. Providing assurance to Parliament and the public on the Covid-19 response and recovery

2. How well is the public sector improving the lives of New Zealanders?

3. How well is the public accountability system working as a whole?

4. Keeping New Zealanders informed about public sector performance and accountability

5. Sharing insights about what “good” looks like

For area 2 focused on the public sector, the draft annual plan identifies four priorities: improving outcomes for Māori; reducing family violence; improving housing outcomes; and improving education outcomes.

Pages 23-24 of the plan outline the OAG proposed work programme related to family violence:

"The Government has identified preventing and eliminating family violence as a priority in the wider effort to improve the well-being of New Zealanders.

In 2018, a cross-government joint venture was set up to work in new ways to reduce “family violence, sexual violence and violence within family/whānau”. The role of the joint venture is to help co-ordinate efforts and lead a whole-of-government, integrated response to family violence (and sexual violence in the context of family violence).

In 2019/20, we started a multi-year programme of work aimed at examining public organisations’ performance in achieving reductions in family violence. In 2021/22, we will continue our programme of work looking at how well agencies involved in the joint venture are working with the non-government sector to deliver services to help people affected by family violence and sexual violence.

In 2022/23, we intend to look at how well interventions are being implemented and service delivery performance more generally.

We intend to continue building our understanding of family violence, its costs to society, and whether the system responds effectively in ways that will lead to significant and sustained reductions. We plan to report at different stages of our work."

Under planned work in 2021/22 related to family violence, the draft plan states:

"Family violence and sexual violence: How well are agencies working together and with the non-government sector to deliver family violence and sexual violence services? 

In 2021/22, we will continue our multi-year programme of work, with a view to examining how well the agencies involved in the joint venture are working together and with the non-government sector to deliver family violence and sexual violence services.

As part of this work, we expect to look at how public organisations are partnering with organisations delivering services to Māori and how the organisations are developing their capability to engage with Māori and understand Māori perspectives in their work.

We envisage that this work will include looking at the effectiveness of work with service providers that support population groups that can find accessing family violence and sexual violence services difficult (for example, Pasifika, people with disabilities, and migrant communities).

We expect to use a combination of approaches in carrying out this work. This will likely involve a mix of performance audit, data analysis, and research."

Pages 22-23 outline the proposed work programme related to improving outcomes for Māori:

"The public sector has an important role in building a successful and effective relationship between Māori and the Crown and contributing to improved outcomes for Māori. Public service leaders are required, under the Public Service Act, to develop and maintain the capability of the public service to engage with Māori and understand Māori perspectives.

Other existing requirements are also targeted at improving public sector performance. For example, Te Ture mō Te Reo Māori 2016 provides guidance for departments of state on the use of te reo Māori. The Māori Language Strategy sets a vision that, by 2040, more New Zealanders will value, speak, and use te reo Māori.

We are interested in how effectively the public sector is contributing to improved outcomes for Māori. There have been many government initiatives and targeted funding for particular issues. We want to understand what has been achieved for the investment that has been made. In 2021/22, we also intend to talk with Māori to gain their perspectives on the outcomes that matter most for Māori. We expect the results of this work, alongside the work we have carried out to see what has already been achieved, to inform the choices that we will make about where to focus our work in this area.

We will also continue our work on Māori perspectives on accountability, including researching what effective public accountability looks like for Māori. This work builds on our broader programme of work on how the accountability system as a whole is working for New Zealanders.

We also plan to revisit our 2015 performance audit of Whānau Ora. For that audit, we described what Whanau Ora was, looked at how it was funded, how much had been invested, and how much had been spent. This work will examine how effectively commissioning and delivery organisations are now using the Whānau Ora approach to help whānau achieve positive outcomes."

For the planned work for 2021/22 related to outcomes for Māori the draft plan states:

"Understanding how well the public sector is delivering the outcomes that matter for Māori

We will carry out work in 2021/22 to identify areas of significant investment targeted toward improving outcomes for Māori and compare that with the results that have been achieved.

We also intend to talk to Māori to gain their perspectives on where we should focus in order to support the public sector to deliver improved outcomes for Māori.

Māori perspectives on accountability

We plan to complete our research project exploring Māori perspectives on what effective public accountability looks like. We are interested in learning more about the range of Māori views and how the public sector can build and maintain the trust of Māori. This research will build on what we have learned from our previous research into public accountability. It will inform the choices we make about future topics or areas for attention in our priority area: improving outcomes for Māori. We intend to publish our research.

Whānau Ora: What has been achieved?

In 2015, our work was focused on understanding the Whānau Ora approach and what the Government had invested. Revisiting our 2015 performance audit, we will examine how effectively commissioning and delivery agencies use the Whānau Ora approach to help whānau achieve positive outcomes."

In addition, under key area three, focused on public accountability, the OAG proposed work programme includes the first audit of Operation Respect. On page 29 of the draft plan it states:

"Operation Respect was first launched in 2016. It is aimed at eliminating inappropriate and harmful behaviours and sexual violence in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). In 2020, an independent review into the programme recommended that the Minister of Defence request the Auditor-General to carry out an audit of the NZDF’s progress in regard to Operation Respect’s specific outcomes every two years for 20 years.

We will carry out the first audit in 2021/22. The audit will focus on what NZDF has put in place to address the recommendations from the independent review to ensure that the objectives of Operation Respect can be achieved."

Send feedback on the plan by email to by 28 May 2021.

For more information see the Office of the Auditor-General's media release.

Related media

Auditor-General's Annual Plan 2021/22 Published, Press Release: Office of the Auditor-General, Scoop, 30.06.2021

Half of the women questioned for a study of the army report being sexually assaulted, Stuff, 02.05.2021

When will the abuse end for NZ's servicewomen?, Stuff, 02.05.2021

Image: Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

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