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Report into sex offender policy and practice

Release of report into sex offender policy and practice

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey is welcoming the findings of a report commissioned from Child, Youth and Family (CYF) into the department’s dealings with sex offenders.

The report reviews the legislation, and the polices and practices of CYF that manage the process whereby sex offenders can have contact with or be involved in decision making with children and young people. It focuses particularly on situations associated with Youth Justice Family Group Conferences (FGCs).

Steve Maharey said the report confirms the department has sound practices in place to manage contact with sex offenders, but it does identify an anomaly in the organisation of FGCs which legislative change will be needed to address.

“I welcome this report as it clarifies Child, Youth and Family has policies and processes already in place to manage contact between children and their parent or family/whanau who have abused or who pose a threat to children.

“The report has however identified an anomaly in the FGC provisions of the Children, Young Persons, and their Families Act 1989 (CYP&F Act). This anomaly means Youth Justice Coordinators do not have the power to exclude a parent or family member, including those convicted of sex offending, from attending FGCs, whereas Care and Protection Coordinators do.

“As part of the action plan arising from this report, I have asked the Ministry of Social Development to advise on a change in legislation that will continue to hold parents accountable for youth offending, while ensuring that those who are convicted sex offenders can be excluded from Youth Justice FGCs on the basis of well-defined care and protection concerns.

“Overall I am confident that the policies of the Department are sound in relation to management of contact of sexual offenders with children and young people,” Steve Maharey said.

The review also finds that the CYP&F Act already contains significant provisions to enable the safe management of contact between children and their parent or family/whanau who have abused or who pose a threat to them.

. . / 2 Other key report findings are: the policy framework is adequate as a generic guide for casework decision making; existing policies were generally appropriate, but further clarification of specific matters relevant to sexual offending against children will better ensure informed, consistent practice is underway; some clarification and enhancement of specific considerations is required, however, to enable a consistent approach to practice in dealing with convicted sex offenders and work is underway to do this; a training programme on sexual abuse is being jointly developed with Auckland SAFE, to provide a strong basis to support improved practitioner awareness of management of sex offenders. Other training programmes are also being revised to ensure sexual abuse issues are fully covered; and CYF is also amending the various Handbooks and other documents used by practitioners to reflect this training.

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