Time to set a new direction around data

Social service providers have welcomed the announcement by the Minister of Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni, that the previous government’s requirement for community organisations to forward personal data on their clients will be scrapped.

SSPA national manager Brenda Pilott said it was very good news.

“Community organisations that work with children and families had expressed grave concerns at the likely impact. It was an ill-judged idea that compromised safety and privacy, and moreover would not provide government with useful information on the effectiveness of services.”

Brenda Pilott said she also welcomed Minister Sepuloni’s decision to assess whether the anonymised aggregate information that organisations already provide to MSD and Oranga Tamariki could be put to better use.

“That’s a good place to start and could line up with work currently being led by the Social Investment Agency to develop a policy and guidelines about data use.”

Brenda Pilott said there is potential value in providing a policy framework and guidance for government and non-government agencies about the use of data.

“But the terms of reference for that work should be reviewed by the new Minister. At the moment it is reflecting the former government’s social investment strategy. Labour indicated they would be taking a different view. This data policy work is a good opportunity to set a new direction.”