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Alternatives to youth residences, prisons - Turia

"The lack of the use of Maori community organisations, and the partial funding of these organisations needs to be addressed" said the former Associate Minister and co -leader of the Maori Party, Tariana Turia in responding to a claim that cash is being put before kids in the Hawkes Bay.

"The Police, CYFS and the Courts need to consider community alternatives to the construction of further Youth Residences and Youth Prisons" she said.

Mrs Turia added that "While not all young people might be suitable for community placements it appears CYFS along with the Police rely solely on their risk averse assessments and value judgements and do not invite assessments from community groups, many of whom are experienced and competent in working with difficult young people".

"Managers favouring one organisation over another on the basis of 'personality preferences', rather than the quality of the service provided, demonstrates a lack of professionalism and contributes to the problem, stated Mrs Turia. "Indeed, many of CYFS problems seem to be self inflicted".

"For CYFS National Operations General Manager Lorraine Williams to respond to community provider criticism by saying the department "will not be making any new placements with this caregiver at this time" demonstrates a heavy handed oppressive 'big sister' attitude, unbecoming of a National Manager”.

“It might also be why providers, front line workers and their managers are reluctant to speak out about what is really happening in a Department which lurches from crisis to crisis" said Mrs Turia.

"While it is public knowledge that young people are being held in Police custody for unacceptably long periods, what might also have to be investigated is whether there are people being held on remand for unacceptably long periods in CYFS residences, thus creating a human log jam."

"I find it difficult to accept that the non-availability of remand beds is due solely to an increase in youth offending" said Mrs Turia.

ENDS

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