Government's child abuse target in doubt

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 16:18 21/07/2014

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The Government appears set to fail to reach key targets it set to cut rheumatic fever rates and reduce assaults on children.

The July update of the 11 better public service (BPS) targets "confirms more good progress in tackling some of the most challenging issues facing New Zealanders, however making headway in other areas is slower", Finance Minister Bill English said.

A target used to measure the reduction in long-term welfare dependency - cutting the number continuously receiving jobseeker support for more than 12 months by 30 per cent by 2017 - appeared to be on track.

The update yesterday showed the number had dropped by more than 6000 between March 2013 and March 2014.

However, the recent trends on immunisation rates, rheumatic fever hospitalisations and assaults on children showed that those targets were all on track to be missed.

State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman said "more work is being done" to improve those areas.

While the number of 18-year-olds with at least NCEA level two was climbing, the speed of the increase was slowing, risking the goal of raising the number achieving to 85 per cent by 2017.

Education sources said the target was in doubt, something English denied.

Tertiary education targets appeared to be on track however, with the proportion of Kiwis between 25 and 34 holding an advanced trade qualification, diploma or degree reaching 54.5 per cent in March 2014. This was up from 52.6 per cent in 2012 and close to the 55 per cent target.

Goals to cut crime overall and youth crime by 2017 were on track to be easily met, although the fall in violent crime suggested the target could be missed unless the speed of decline increases.

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