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Chief Social Worker Releases Mikus Report

Chief Social Worker Releases Mikus Report

The findings of a review by the Chief Social Worker into lessons learned from the case analysis of convicted sex offender, Jules Mikus, has been released today.

In October 2002 Jules Mikus was convicted of the abduction, sexual violation and murder of Napier schoolgirl, Teresa Cormack.

Releasing her recommendations in a report today, Chief Social Worker, Shannon Pakura, said the analysis of the Mikus-related cases provided the Department with opportunities to identify how to improve its capabilities to keep New Zealand families and children safer.

The Mikus review has two main purposes, Ms Pakura said.

“The first is to provide leadership and direction for social workers based on the lessons learned from the Jules Mikus-related case analysis.

“The second purpose is to highlight issues of policy or legislation for the consideration of ministers and departments who play a role in keeping children and families safer from sexual abuse.”

Ms Pakura said an immediate priority for CYF, and one of the 12 main recommendations identified in the review, was to attend to the needs of the children who had sustained harm and/or mental health injury as a result of sexual abuse perpetrated by Mikus.

“Accordingly, I am recommending that the Department manages an open file listing children who have had significant involvement with Mikus, and this file be updated as further information comes to hand.”

Ms Pakura said a second priority was for CYF to provide support to ensure access to any other therapeutic follow-up that may be reasonably required. A summary of the remaining key recommendations in the review include:

Practice notes and guidance for social workers on how to work in ‘likely to be abused’ situations, on cases based on their own professional knowledge and on investigating cases of likely harm where sexual offenders are involved

All unallocated notifications continue to be reviewed to ensure action is timely

the Department’s policies around the use of the Risk Estimation System be re-issued to staff again. Improvement of the Department’s information systems including clearing the backlog of data entry for cases, ensuring all future IT systems development takes note of this review and a ‘pop-up screen alert’ be developed, to indicate when a person’s name is entered in the system who has convictions against children

Further training for social workers is also recommended. This would focus on the profile and behaviours of sex offenders, notification, investigation and assessment processes in ‘likely to be abused’ situations, the entering of notifications based on a social workers’ own professional knowledge and data entry.

Ms Pakura said New Zealand society also needed to consider if it wanted to better manage the risks of sexual offenders in the community and as part of her review she called for wider public debate on the issue. She calls for a multi-agency approach, to include and inform families about the dangers of child sex offenders. She recommends that consideration be given to developing better mechanisms to manage child sex offenders in the long term.

Ms Pakura recommends that further consideration be given to establishing a sex offender register that is actively managed and accessible to those working in the field of child protection. She recommends that current sentencing options be enhanced.

She calls for more comprehensive and earlier intervention for young people who demonstrate inappropriate sexualized behaviour.

“We need to get more information out to families so they can keep themselves and their children safe from sex offenders.

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