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Newman calls for independent inquiry

Newman calls for independent inquiry

Tuesday 21 Dec 2004

Dr Muriel Newman - Press Releases - Social Welfare

ACT Deputy Leader and Social Services spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today wrote to the Prime Minister calling for an independent inquiry into the tragic death of young Otis Auelua.

The 13-year-old Otara boy died while on a camp at Matauri Bay in Northland under the jurisdiction of the Child Youth and Family provider, Pacific World. Despite going missing without a trace, it took the provider two days to inform the family of the boy's absence and four days to notify the police.

In her letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Newman also raised two other serious errors of judgement: the fact that the young teenager was clearly left unsupervised, and that he'd been taken to the camp by the CYF provider without parental authorisation.

The local Northland MP said she appreciated an internal inquiry was underway but for the sake of public confidence in CYF and to avoid any hint of a cover-up she believes it is essential an independent inquiry is also conducted.

Dr Newman said pending the inquiry's findings the CYF employees responsible for the contractual arrangements with the provider should be dismissed immediately. Also, given that the ultimate responsibility of the boy's death lies with Minister Ruth Dyson, she must be forced to step down.

"From the outside, there appears to have been a complete lack of professional conduct, serious errors of judgement, as well as negligent if not criminal behaviour," wrote Dr Newman.

ENDS

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