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Search for accountability is about more than blame

12 July 2005

Search for accountability is about more than blame

The Public Service Association (PSA) is urging New Zealanders to reserve their judgement about the alleged sexual abuse of two young girls in foster care until a review has been completed into the case.

The PSA is the union which represents the nation’s social workers.

PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott says it is too easy to leap to blame social workers when families are in crisis.

“Like all New Zealanders our members are shocked by the alleged abuse of these two young girls. High profile abuse cases often lead to a feeding frenzy of media and political attention.

“It’s important to, first, ensure the children are safe, and then, secondly, to look into what went wrong and fix the problems the review underway will hopefully identify.

“It’s not appropriate for us to comment on the case being investigated by the Department and the Police. However politicians, the media and others currently commenting on it need to be open to possibility that inadequate systems and processes are just as likely to be at fault as poor social work practice.

“It’s critical that the review underway rises above a simple search for someone to blame and looks at what actually went wrong.

“We expect the Department to ignore the public speculation and to follow proper process as it investigates what went wrong in this case.”

Brenda Pilott said Child, Youth and Family social workers work with the most dysfunctional families and damaged children in our society.

“The sad reality is that social workers see similar cases of abuse every day of the week. Every child that is abused has parents, relations and neighbours who should have kept them safe.

“The big increases in staff and resources for Child, Youth and Family are being directed at the tragic results of abuse. As Judge Mick Brown said in his review of Child, Youth and Family in 2000, we need to invert the pyramid of abuse and unite as a community to address the underlying causes of abuse.

“The nation’s social workers do their best everyday to turn around young lives destroyed by abuse and neglect. They absolutely must behave professionally at all times, but they also need to be properly supported to carry out one of the hardest jobs any public servant is called upon to perform,” Brenda Pilott said.


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