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New Child Protection Measures Announced

New Child Protection Measures Announced

Scoop Audio+Video+Photos

By Hamish Cardwell

13August 2013

The government has announced sweeping new legislation to protect children from abuse.

At a press conference in Wellington today Minister for Social Development Paula Bennett laid out plans which included barring suspected and convicted child abusers from having access to children.

The new rules would allow judges to ban, for up to 10 years, where people who had committed sexual or violent offences could live, work and socialise.

Mrs Bennett said parents who who abused their children would have to prove to Child Youth and Family that they were no longer a threat before they would be allowed to care for new children.

“Currently, the onus is on the State to prove that the abusive parent is unsafe, we are reversing that,” she said.

The courts would be allowed to restrict the guardianship rights of birth parents in cases of severe neglect and abuse.

More than 300,000 Government employees - including contractors, members of Boards of Trustees, health board employees, and government funded agencies - who come into contact with children, would screened to ensure they are suitable, she said.

Police, Justice and the Ministries of Health, Education and Social Development will have new responsibilities under the legislation.

Yesterday, Prime Minister John Key signaled that there would be an announcement on child protection and said the changes would ruffle feathers.

“We make no apologies for these changes, which will be controversial to some,” the Prime Minister said.

The changes are included in the Vulnerable Children Bill and will be introduced to parliament next month.

Full audio of the press conference below:

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Click a link to play audio (or right-click to download) in either
MP3 format or in OGG format.

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(Video available from 4pm)

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ENDS

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