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CYFS reform necessary for the sake of our children

12 November, 2003
CYFS reform necessary for the sake of our children

The failure of CYFS and the Police to comprehend the seriousness of Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson's situation cost the lives to two young New Zealanders, Green MP Sue Bradford said today.

Ms Bradford, the Green Social Services spokesperson, said the reports of CYFS chief Shannon Pakura and Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro, show the Government must act urgently to address chronic failures in the agencies charged with protecting our young people from abuse.

"The reports make for harrowing reading and point to a number of critical failures in CYFS' social work practices," said Ms Bradford. "The saddest of which appears to be an inability by CYFS workers to understand the serious nature of what they were dealing with.

"These reports are a case study of what goes wrong when a department is poorly managed, has significant communication problems, and doesn't train and support its social workers adequately.

"I am also very concerned that the report indicates an acceptance by both the public and state agencies that domestic violence is a fact of life that rarely needs action to be taken. This is very peculiar, especially given all the training and focus that has tried to ensure that police take domestic violence seriously.

"Sadly, the needs of children to be protected from such abuse seems to have been of minor importance."

Ms Bradford said it was crucial that the Government act quickly to plug the gaping holes in CYFS' social work practice, not just use the report "as a parliamentary door-stop or file it in the rubbish bin".

"If the Government is serious about reforming CYFS then it must ensure that the Chief Social Worker is an integral part of the leadership team, not just someone in a minor role off to the side as it appears to have been the case for so long," said Ms Bradford.

"Best practice needs to be lead from the top and not diverted by dodgy management systems that seem more focused on maintaining the status quo and making the numbers look good.

"The department must strive to have enough experienced, well-trained and supported social workers so that these kinds of fundamental mistakes are not repeated," said Ms Bradford.


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