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Newman Calls For Independent Inquiry

Newman Calls For Independent Inquiry

Thursday 30 Jan 2003 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

The alleged intoxication and rape of a young girl - while in the care of Child, Youth and Family - raises even more serious questions about the quality of care the country's most vulnerable children are receiving, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"This incident is simply the latest in a litany of abuse and neglect that has been experienced by children in CYF supposed care," Dr Newman said.

"At 14 years-old, this victim should not have been allowed to enter into a situation where she could be subjected to harm - especially given that she was in the care of a Government department charged with protecting children.

"This young girl was, reportedly, so intoxicated that she had to be carried by friends - also supposed to be in CYF care - and could not even speak. Yet it is against the law for under-aged children to have access to alcohol. Is this the standard of care the Government demands from CYF?

"The service's management has said the girl `was not a young offender, so there was no suggestion of her needing to be locked up'. This does not excuse the fact that CYF had no idea where she was or what she was doing.

"CYF is supposed to offer protection and care to children who do not receive it at home. The department, therefore, should know where its wards are at all times.

Cases of neglect and abuse have dogged CYF through the media, undermining confidence in the department. CYF and the Government must be made accountable. Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey is doing nothing to improve the care these children are receiving. The Minister and his department have serious questions to answer if they are to prove that they are worthy of the role that New Zealand has given them.

"I call on the Minister Steve Maharey to urgently undertake an independent inquiry into this latest incident. The public deserves an assurance that this sort of incident will not happen again, with more vulnerable children put at risk while in CYF care," said Dr Newman.

ENDS


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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