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Acting on Commissioner's report – Maharey

25 June 2000 Media Statement

Government acting on Commissioner's report – Maharey

The Government has carefully considered the Commissioner for Children's report into the April 1999 death of James Whakaruru and has already taken action in line with a number of its recommendations, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

"The death of James Whakaruru, or any other child in these kinds of circumstances, is a tragedy. The well-being of our children must be the touchstone of the health and strength of our society.

"What makes James' death particularly distressing is that the systems designed to protect children so clearly failed.

"The one thing that we must do in light of these tragic events is to learn the lessons from James' death. The Government is committed to improving the services provided by state agencies to protect our most vulnerable children.

"In my own social services portfolio I have insitutued measures to improve notification and placement procedures used by the Department of Child, Youth and Family. Judge Mick Brown is conducting these reviews and will report to me shortly with his recommendations.

"Resources provided in the Budget have given Child, Youth and Family the long-term financial security they will need to ensure Mick Brown's work can be carried into action.

"Next month I am bringing together child advocates and experts to refine a New Zealand agenda for children which will give us a five-year framework within which we can develop children's policy.

"I acknowledge that working for the protection of children will always be difficult. However, I am determined that we will learn the lessons from James' tragic death and that real improvement in public services will be his legacy," said Steve Maharey.

ENDS

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