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Swell of support for CYF complaints authority

Monday, 21 August 2006

Swell of support for CYF complaints authority

Public support for an independent Complaints Authority for Child Youth and Family (CYF) has been steadily pouring in since Judy Turner, deputy leader of United Future, publicly called on the Government to establish one a few weeks ago.

"I have had faxes, phone-calls to my home, e-mails of support from all over New Zealand, and meetings with people who are all keen to tell their story and frustrated that there is nowhere for them to go to ask for justice," says Mrs Turner.

Mrs Turner has suggested that an agency similar to the Police Complaints Authority be set up to ensure that families under investigation and intervention by CYF have an opportunity to have those processes independently reviewed if they believe they have been unjustly treated.

Currently the Children's Commissioner can intervene but only about issues that directly pertain to the safety and well-being of a child - not the treatment of adults caught up in family issues.

This means that the Commission will check to see if a child is safe and well in a placement, but are not required to ask whether the child should have been placed in care in the first place.

"What has been most interesting is that some of those who have made contact are people who have made notifications to CYF and have seen no action, despite the fact that they have notified CYFS of situations where they have clear evidence that children are in serious and immediate danger," says Mrs Turner.

"A CYF Independent Complaints Authority would provide necessary accountability from the department, and provide New Zealanders an avenue to have their complaints heard in a neutral environment.

"I am not in a position to test the validity of these stories - but someone should be," Mrs Turner insists.


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