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New CYF care and protection residence opens in Akd

New CYF care and protection residence opens in Auckland

Ruth Dyson, Minister for Child, Youth and Family Services, paid tribute to the hard working staff at the opening of Whakatakapokai, CYF's new care and protection residence today.

"Residential care is one of the toughest and most demanding social work environments. Because the work is difficult, a camaraderie and rapport develops between workers in a residence that you find in few other professions," she said.

"Being a residential social worker can also be highly rewarding, particularly when change for the better is seen in a young person over time," said Ms Dyson.

Other speakers at the opening included Manukau Mayor, Sir Barry Curtis and Ray Smith, CYF's Acting Deputy Chief Executive.

Formerly known as the Northern Residential Centre, this new facility will increase the number of care and protection beds from 38 to 48 nationwide.

Four young people at the residence have been working towards the Young New Zealanders' Challenge Award - one was awarded the Bronze Award by Sir Barry Curtis and the remaining three were given certificates in recognition of completing three of the four sections at Bronze level.

The opening of Whakatakapokai marks the culmination of a 10-year redevelopment programme to separate care and protection and youth justice campuses because of the differing needs of these two groups of young people.

The redevelopment has seen an additional 37 youth justice and 13 care and protection beds added nationally.

--

Hon Ruth Dyson
Minister of Labour, Minister for ACC, Minister for Disability Issues, Minister for Senior Citizens, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment (Child, Youth and Family)

27 July 2006 Speech Notes

Opening of Whakatakapokai Care and Protection Residence, Auckland

9.30am Weymouth Rd, Manurewa

Rau rangatira maa,
tenei te mihi ki a koutou i runga i te kaupapa o te ra.
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

[Distinguished guests, greetings to you gathered here for this purpose today. Greetings once, twice, three times to you all.]


Good morning everyone and thank you for the warm welcome. As the Minister responsible for Child, Youth and Family, it is an honour for me to be here today at the opening of Whakatakapokai Care and Protection Residence.

Firstly I want to thank Ken for his introduction and welcome on this very special occasion.

I also want to make a special acknowledgement of the distinguished guests gathered here today who include Sir Barry Curtis, Mayor of Manukau City, Dr Cindy Kiro, the Children’s Commissioner, to my colleagues in Parliament who have made the journey to be here and to Ray Smith, the Acting Deputy Chief Executive of the Child, Youth and Family.

I also want to acknowledge those from other agencies, the Police, council, the community and to all those associated with the realisation of this project – the architects and the many contractors involved.

It is wonderful to see so many of you here today for this important occasion.

It is a privilege for me to acknowledge Pare and Brownie Rawhero and the Mana Whenua who have a long and special relationship with this place. They have had a presence on this campus for a great many years and during this time they have worked tirelessly to support and provide services to our young people, their families and our staff.

Whakatakapokai is a name of real significance. It means supporting and assisting our young people to make positive changes in their lives, to move forward and to make a new start.

This name has been agreed between Mana Whenua and staff and provides a sense of direction for everyone working within this new residence as to what we aim to achieve.

The opening of Whakatakapokai is significant in another way. It marks the culmination of Child, Youth and Family’s 1996 Residential Services Strategy, which set out the recommendations to separate out youth justice from care and protection services due to the significantly different client groups and their needs.

The Residential Services Strategy recommended the redevelopment of the Northern Residential Centre, as this residence was formerly known. Two and a half years ago the Youth Justice Residence, Korowai Manaaki, was opened in Kiwi Tamaki Road, which allowed the redevelopment of this site to provide for a 20-bed care and protection facility.

Today I am pleased to officially open this new purpose-built facility.

Whakatakapokai is the last of six Child, Youth and Family residences to be developed as a result of the Residential Services Strategy. With its construction the total number of care and protection beds around the country has increased by 10, from 38 to 48 which should have an immediate effect in meeting the needs of highly vulnerable young people with complex needs.

This Labour-led government has made a substantial investment in the building of these purpose-built residences to facilitate the work that needs to be undertaken with these young people to meet their welfare, education and health needs.

Construction work on Whakatakapokai began in February of last year and the cost of the project has been just over $8 million.

Whakatakapokai incorporates a new residential block, a new flat for family visitors and a refurbished school and administration building.

The children and young people in care and protection residences are among the most vulnerable in the country, with some of the most complex and difficult behaviours. They are referred to residences either because their behaviour is a risk to themselves or to others and they require 24-hour supervision.

The young people here are likely to have come from abusive or neglectful environments and have had to contend with issues such as family violence, homelessness and drug and alcohol abuse. This will have significantly impacted on their ability to attend schools and often they will not have had their basic needs met.

With such complex needs it has become obvious both in New Zealand and overseas that care and safe containment, while remaining key responsibilities, cannot be the only focus for our residential services if these young people are to have the best opportunity for change.

The new residences have been designed and built with this in mind.

On the tour of this residence you will see how much effort has been put into its design so that the environment is not only safe and secure but supports a more individually-tailored and outcome-focused response to these young people.

Without this kind of environment this approach would be more difficult.

Child, Youth and Family has embarked on a three-year plan of action to create a more therapeutic environment that will require a more collaborative approach among residential staff and education and health professionals in order to address these young people’s needs in a more integrated and holistic way.

Young people are in residential care for a short period of time – three to four months on average – and much of the work done here will be about assessing needs, planning for and delivering services.

Much ongoing work will be done with the young people as they return to their communities. Planning for transition from the residence, reintegration and after-care are therefore critical aspects of the work to be done here.

The aim of Child, Youth and Family’s work is to create the best possible opportunity for young people to change and make different choices. Some of the young people at this residence are already proving they can do this. They have been taking part in the Young New Zealanders’ Challenge for the past six months and will be presented with their awards by Sir Barry Curtis later in this morning.

I would like to congratulate those young people on their courage and determination in pursuing this goal. The new skills they will have learnt and the new confidence they will have developed, will serve them well in the future and hopefully inspire them to continue to achieve their goals and dreams.

Well done to all of you.

Child, Youth and Family aims to be a world leader in the provision of residential services. The management and staff are dedicated to making this happen and our young people deserve no less.

I want to acknowledge the residential staff and their sheer commitment to the young people they work with in this facility.

The residence has approximately 65 staff in total, most of them residential social workers but also ancillary staff who play a critical support role.

It is recognised that residential social work is probably the toughest social work environment of all. The social workers work in an intense, demanding situation.

Because the work is difficult, a camaraderie and rapport develops between workers in a residence that you will find in few other professions. Being a residential social worker can also be highly rewarding, particularly when change for the better is seen in a young person over time.

In closing, I want to thank you all once again for being here to share this significant occasion with us. I wish all of Whakatakapokai’s staff well in their future work with the young people who come to this residence.

Thank you.


ENDS

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