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Making A Life Worth Something

Hon Roger McClay Commissioner for Children 1 February 2001

"The inter-agency working party led by Dame Margaret Bazley has demonstrated a committed and comprehensive Government response to what have been serious deficits as outlined in the Commissioner for Children’s report following the death of James Whakaruru," said Roger McClay, Commissioner for Children in Wellington today.

"I am delighted that such significant progress has been achieved on inter-agency cooperation and the skilled professional work that is required for the care and protection of children. The very appointment of Dame Margaret Bazley to convene the inter-agency working party was an inspired move," he said.

"As one of New Zealand’s most respected and longest serving successful CEO’s her appointment to this important task was a tribute to and respect of little children like James Whakaruru. I am therefore humbled to acknowledge the seriousness with which this high level inter-agency working party has undertaken their task. This dedication and commitment now needs to shift to our communities and be embraced by professionals and the wider public.

Dame Margaret and her working party have recognised the fact that there is still important work to be achieved by some Departments, and that that work will be monitored by the Ministry of Social Policy.

I will continue to seek reassurance and more information on the details provided by some departments, and I will be liaising directly with Dame Margaret and individual departments about these.

The real test of what seems to be excellent progress will be whether this level of cooperation and focus on best practice can be replicated at the local level so that every community has strong safety nets for our children and families. The excellent link drawn between family violence and child abuse needs to be noted by everyone. It is tremendous that most agencies have prioritised the need for increased staff training on the recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect. This is the very kind of investment that is required for the on-going safety of our New Zealand children.

I salute midwives and Plunket who have already gone well beyond what was recommended in our report. I congratulate them and thank them on behalf of New Zealand children.

When a child dies their life is absolutely worth noting and learning lessons from. I feel that New Zealand has learned much from the life and death of James Whakaruru.

Dame Margaret and her teams work are a clear signal and example for our society. We do need an on-going commitment to do many things differently and better. That will mean that James’ life and death will have brought about a more expert and caring society for all our children.

The lives of all of our children certainly are worth much."

email: children@occ.org.nz email

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