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James Whakaruru report: Government responses

20 December 2000 Media Statement

James Whakaruru report: Government agency responses

The Government is reviewing agency responses to the Report of the Commissioner for Children on the death of James Whakaruru, the Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey said today.

The Commissioner's report into the April 1999 death of James Whakaruru was released in June and made recommendations for a number of agencies. Key elements of the responses from these agencies include the development of programmes to address the rights of children, interagency co-operation and the sharing of information, and training in recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect and in assessment of risk factors.

“The more than 50 recommendations contained in the Commissioner's report are being actively addressed by relevant agencies. In all cases it is clear that government agencies have taken the issues very seriously, and are continuing to make changes.

“Many of the responses demonstrate it is not just one-off change that is required, but more a longer-term way of working together on the ground to ensure as best they can that this type of tragedy does not re-occur.

"Cabinet will consider the details of the responses early next year and I expect to be able to publicly release them soon after.

"In October, the Government directed the chief executives of affected agencies to report at the end of this year on what they are doing to implement the Commissioner’s recommendations, and on any further measures required.

"The group of chief executives has been chaired by Dame Margaret Bazley (Ministry of Social Policy) and comprised representatives of the agencies to which the report directed its recommendations – the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, the Department for Courts, the Department of Corrections, the Ministry of Justice, New Zealand Police, the Ministry of Health, Te Puni Kokiri, Healthcare Hawke’s Bay, the New Zealand College of Midwives, and Plunket.

“Following the Government’s deliberations in the New Year, Dame Margaret will follow-up with the agencies to ensure that the improvements are continuing to be implemented,” said Mr Maharey.
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Mr Maharey said he is also studying the report of Mick Brown into Child, Youth and Family’s procedures for care and protection referral notification, and for placement of children and young persons outside their immediate family or care giving arrangement.

“I received Mr Brown’s report this week. It contains a significant number of recommendations which require careful consideration. Departments are preparing a Government response which I would plan to release, along with the Mick Brown’s report, early next year,” Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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