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Maharey Unable To Deal With Child Abuse

ACT Social Services Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman says the fact that as many as 40 percent of potential child abuse cases notified to CYFS involve children who have previously been notified as at risk is a clear indication that the Minister Steve Maharey's has failed to come to grips with the problems.

"Answers to my Parliamentary questions reveal that the proportion of repeat notifications reached just under 40 percent last year, up from 36.5 percent when this Minister came into office. The figures demonstrate the extent to which abuse has become endemic in certain families.

"As long as this Government and its Social Services Minister continue to condone policies that institutionalise welfare dependency - weakening the bonds of parenting through family break down, the current problems will only get worse. We need the courage to address the real issue and get to the heart of the problem.

"It is time for a collaborative and integrated approach to child welfare, along the lines of that being trialled by Auckland's Starship Hospital - without the support of Government, I might add. But a single community based agency, with experienced health, welfare, special education and police professionals working together should have a clear objective of reducing child abuse in that community.

"Child abuse has now become one of the biggest problems this country faces. The evidence is very clear that children from abusive backgrounds are at a serious disadvantage. In particular they are far more likely to get involved in criminal activity. As parents, they are more likely to be violent and abusive to their own children. It is a cycle that must be broken.

"Any Government that is serious about reducing child abuse must have the courage to address the incentives in legislation that are causing the rapid increase in family breakdown and the rise in long-term benefit dependency. They should support two initiatives 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.


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