It’s with some sadness, but also a great deal of pride, that I advise that I'll be leaving Superu at the end of the month. Since I joined as Chief Executive of the Families Commission in June 2013, there have been many changes in both this organisation and in the social sector generally, which have helped to make my time here enjoyable, if challenging. I’m especially pleased to note below a little of the legacy Superu will leave in the area of family and whānau research, and in the improved uptake, generation and understanding of evidence and evaluation across the sector.
We now know more about the diversity of families and whānau, and how they think of themselves. We also know that most are doing well, but some are not. Families have the strength within themselves, and their wider whānau, to achieve change – with the right kind of support. What is needed is a continuation of initiatives that bring on-the-ground knowledge from both practice and research perspectives together to make a difference. Our Families & Whānau Status Report work will continue to operate as part of the Ministry of Social Development, and Superu will carry on our active advocacy for New Zealand families.
Similarly, our work in the evidence and evaluation space has shown the enormous capability inherent in the community and voluntary sector to rise to the challenge of a social investment environment. Our resources, guides and tools supporting them and their funders to generate and use evidence, and improve their evaluation practice have been incredibly well-received.
From our work to create a learning system it’s apparent that concentrating on the simple things – understand the problem, look at what should work, look at what we know does work – is an effective strategy. We know there are challenges in embedding a broader view of what constitutes evidence, in sharing knowledge, and in effecting cultural change so that evidence-informed decision-making becomes the norm across the system. But we also know that Superu has produced a critical mass of work which is being well-used and shared across the sector and is influencing decision makers.
As I depart the organisation, I’d like to say thank you to our Board and especially Families Commissioner Len Cook, and the team at Superu for their support. Dr Malcolm Menzies has agreed to step in as Chief Executive until Superu’s disestablishment is complete, and he’ll be continuing our work to improve the lives of New Zealand’s families and whānau and to support the use of evidence and evaluation in the social sector.
11 September 2017