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CYFS Chaos Needs Fresh Approach

CYFS Chaos Needs Fresh Approach

Tuesday 26 Feb 2002 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

ACT Social Services Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today accused Minister Steve Maharey of overseeing a crisis in Child, Youth and Family Services.

"Under this Minister we've seen record numbers of unallocated cases of potential child abuse, record numbers of social workers leaving and the numbers of cases on the waiting list for a social worker have soared .

"It's now two years since former principal Youth Court judge Mick Brown was instructed by this Government to review CYFS - so that as Mr Maharey said at the time `any necessary improvements can be made'.

"And yet despite the many excellent recommendations contained in Mr Brown's subsequent report of early last year, we now hear that in the Kaitaia office the staff are overloaded, under-performing and some regard violence as a normal part of family life. This is extraordinary and totally unacceptable.

"Mr Maharey's said he's `meeting' with CYFS managers today to discuss this revelation. As the Minister he is responsible for the functioning of his department. I call on him to publicly disclose the outcome of this meeting. It is not good enough that the Minister's inadequacies are simply swept under the carpet.

"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 community-based approach to child welfare, with a focus on preventing child abuse.

"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 which have been 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," Dr Newman said.

For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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