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Fresh Start Needed On Child Abuse Policies

“The strong criticisms of the Child Youth and Family Service in the Mick Brown report are unsurprising after years of failed leadership on child abuse policy,” says ACT MP Dr Muriel Newman.

“Despite nine years as Opposition Spokesman, railing against Government under funding of CYFS, in the 15 months he has been the Minister doing it his way, Steve Maharey has overseen record child abuse notifications, and record numbers of unallocated cases.

“Under his stewardship, record numbers of social workers have left, leaving the service in a situation of crisis.

“The recommendations of Mick Brown are worthwhile enough in regard to patching up the present system. But if we are to turn around New Zealand’s atrocious and worsening child abuse statistics, strong leadership, vision, and a fresh new approach are needed.

“The solution must involve a collaborative and integrated approach to child welfare, with experienced health, welfare, special education and police professionals working together in a single new community based agency. For the first time, such an agency should be clearly accountable for reducing child abuse in that community.

“Further, the Government must address the incentives in legislation that are causing the rapid increase in family breakdown and the rise in long-term benefit dependency, both key factors in child abuse. They should find the courage to support two initiatives being promoted by ACT, shared parenting and opening up the Family Court, which have resulted in significant reductions of child abuse in those countries where they are the law.

“The Minister has shown that he is clearly out of his depth in this whole area. What is needed is a strong Minister with the courage to do what needs to be done. Without this, all we can look forward to is more tragedies,” Dr Newman said.


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