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Wairarapa Deaths Play Part In CYF Downward Spiral

Media Statement
For immediate release
Tuesday, 21 October, 2003

Turner: Wairarapa deaths play part in CYFS' downward spiral

CYFS is in a downward spiral of "under-reaction and over-reaction" after a string of Wairarapa child deaths and needs a top-to-bottom review, United Future's Judy Turner said today.

"The under-reaction is documented in various tragic cases in recent years, and, it would appear, again with little Coral Burrows," Mrs Turner, the party's child and family affairs spokeswoman, said.

"And the over-reaction is the ongoing failure to reassess situations where children have been removed for various reasons, meaning that often they could be safely put back into their families after a short time but they are not being returned."

This is clearly counter to the founding principles of the CYFS' legislation, she said.

"What we have is an organisation lurching from crisis to crisis, with an almost institutional case of shell-shock, huge staffing issues and an underlying ethos of self-preservation.

"That this ethos had developed is testament to the fact that it has lost the confidence of politicians, the media and, most importantly, the public.

"The long and the short of it is that children and families are being abused by the very organisation that is meant to help them. It has become a law unto itself.

"And the problem is systemic - there are some very fine people working within CYFS, but because of its problems, it can't keep them. The staff turnover figures are appalling and indicate just how big a problem there is.

"We have an organisation in a worse state of crisis than many of the families that it is involved with," Mrs Turner said.


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