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Alcohol on taxpayer-funded course abuse of trust

Paula Bennett
National Party MP

2 July 2006

Alcohol on taxpayer-funded course an abuse of trust

The Minister of Conservation must make sure someone is held accountable for young people on a taxpayer-funded course being given alcohol by tutors and supervisors, says National MP Paula Bennett.

She is commenting after she was contacted by a parent who had telephoned her 16-year-old son on the course, to find he was ‘having a party with the other students and tutors and was quite drunk’.

He was on a Conservation Corps programme run by the NZ School of Outdoor Studies, travelling around Department of Conservation land learning life skills. Three of the 12 students were under 18.

“It is outrageous that tutors not only allowed alcohol to be consumed but actually organised a party and that apparently DOC rangers actually sold them alcohol from their own social club,” says Ms Bennett.

“I understand alcohol had been consumed on at least 10 occasions on the four-week trip, all with the knowledge of the supervisor or DOC staff.

“This is an abuse of trust and misuse of taxpayers’ money.

“The parent who contacted me was appalled that she had believed her son was in safe hands only to find he was intoxicated – and not for the first time.

“Parents had signed a Code of Practice that said no alcohol was to be consumed, so they could have expected that the last ones to break the rules would have been the supervisors.

“This is a parent’s worse nightmare – they put their trust in adults but the adults break the rules.

“After initial ducking and diving, and parents even being told that ‘this is not a big deal’, it is good to see the Minister of Conservation is now involved. He must ensure this does not happen again on courses involving his department.”

Ends

Attachments: Tutor's diary, page from student disclosure

http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/0607/Student_disclosure.pdf
http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/0607/Tutors_diary.pdf

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