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Judith Collins - Celebrating Families 13 Feb 2004

Celebrating Families
Judith Collins
13th February 2004

National Party Family Spokesperson

CYF in need of some Tender Loving Care

I have a huge amount of sympathy for CYF social workers who get to pick up the pieces of failed welfare policies and the break down of families. These people get the blame for what is going on in New Zealand where mothers and fathers can simply abandon any sense of responsibility for their actions and the New Zealand taxpayer is expected to pay for it and the social workers are expected to fix the problem. Given the myriad of cases highlighted by the media in the last year, there is no denying Child, Youth and Family needs some help. In order to glean some understanding of why this department is under such terrible stress, I recently asked for some information from Associate Minister for CYFS and Minister of Women's Affairs Ruth Dyson.

I asked if she knew how many children in the care of CYFS came from households where their two biological parents lived together. I asked whether CYFS kept statistics relating to the occupations of caregivers of children under CYFS wardship. I asked if CYFS kept statistics relating to the educational performance of children in CYFS.

Invariably, the answer was that this type of information is not collated. Instead, CYFS collates information on the ethnicity of children in its care, which apparently is more important than the family situation of the child. CYFS even labels "Australian" as an ethnicity. How PC is that?

The anti-child pornography group ECPAT New Zealand revealed this week that children as young as ten have been involved in prostitution in New Zealand. A recent study of 303 sex workers in the Christchurch area identified 12 prostitutes under the age of 18. The Prostitution Reform Act, decriminalised pimping and confirmed the illegality of anyone under 18 being a prostitute. Apparently, nobody told the young prostitutes about the law change. I wonder what the Prostitutes Collective is going to do about this? A questionnaire distributed to prostitutes elicited 47 responses, and revealed that only seven were living with both parents at the time they entered prostitution.

Sex abuse victim

The plight of a (now) 16 year old Sri Lankan sex abuse victim touched my heart. Having reviewed her file and all reports and judgments, I could not help wonder why there was no room in New Zealand for her when there seems to be so much room for men of military age ( and their extended families) from Iraq and Afghanistan seeking refugee status - now that both those countries have been liberated from their oppressive regimes. I was struck by the negative response from Immigration Associate Minister Damien O'Connor who in 1999 felt that convicted drug dealers from Germany should be allowed to stay on compassionate grounds but clearly not a young girl who had been the victim of abuse. It seems to me that this girl has given the government the opportunity to show just how tough it can be on innocent child immigrants we have just taken in. I know we can't help everyone. Does that mean we can't help anyone?


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