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Minister responds to allegations

12 August 2005

Minister responds to allegations

Child, Youth and Family Minister Ruth Dyson today responded to allegations in last week’s Sunday News that, 48 hours before police were finally notified, Pacific World told Child, Youth and Family that Otis Auelua had disappeared.

Ms Dyson said she had received advice from the department that showed the following timeline: Thursday, 9 December 2004 Otis went missing from the Pacific World camp at Matauri Bay.

Saturday, 11 December 2004 The camp finished and Pacific World staff returned to Auckland. According to Pacific World, their staff visited Otis’ home and told his sister that Otis was missing and had possibly been seen getting into a car. Otis’ mother was not at home.

At approx 9.10pm, a social worker from a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that was not Pacific World rang CYF’s after-hours service. They passed on information that Otis had gone missing, had been seen getting into a car and was due at an appointment on Monday, 13 December. They said they had also left a message on the work phone of Otis’ CYF social worker.

The information received by the CYF after-hours social worker was third-hand and was primarily focussed on Otis missing his Monday appointment. The social worker expected that Pacific World would have already contacted the police, as they were responsible for Otis while on camp. The social worker decided the proper course of action was to have the matter followed up first thing on Monday morning by Otis’ social worker, and took steps to ensure this happened.

Monday, 13 December 2004 The CYF after-hours social worker entered the information on the computer recording system and left a message for Otis’ CYF social worker advising them of the phone call received on Saturday night.

The NGO social worker who had contacted CYF’s after-hours social worker on Saturday night also rang Otis’ CYF social worker to advise he had gone missing from the camp. Pacific World also left a message for the CYF social worker and their supervisor, saying Otis had gone missing and asking the social worker to contact them urgently.

The CYF supervisor responded to Pacific World’s phone call promptly and asked if they had contacted the police. When told they had not, the supervisor asked Pacific World to contact the police immediately.

The supervisor also contacted the Police, who advised that Pacific World needed to make the missing person’s report as they were the last to see Otis.

The supervisor made a referral to the Youth Absconding Programme, a joint initiative between CYF and the Police to manage absconding of young people in Auckland.

Ruth Dyson said she was not able to make any further comment until after the coronor’s hearing later in the year.

ENDS

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