Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


The safety and protection of children must come first

Hon Paula Bennett
Minister for Social Development

21 December 2011

The safety and protection of children must come first

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett today released the Ministerial Inquiry into the abuse of a nine year old girl and other matters relating to the welfare, safety and protection of children in New Zealand.

“The Inquiry focused on a deeply saddening case of appalling abuse and also more broadly at how agencies deal with at risk families and children.”

Today this child’s mother was sentenced to seven and a half years for 25 cases of abuse against her daughter.

Sentencing of the child’s father has been deferred, but I have been advised releasing this report will not affect the sentencing outcome.

“This child was subjected to cruel and barbaric abuse from her own parents in an unusual case where the mother manipulated many into thinking she had her child’s best interests at heart,” says Ms Bennett.

Lord Laming said in his 2003 report to the British Parliament on the murder of Victoria Climbie that, “adults who deliberately exploit the vulnerability of children can behave in devious and menacing ways” and they “will often go to great lengths to hide their activities”.

“I believe that is what we have seen in this case,” says Ms Bennett.

"It’s important to remember the inquiry went wider than one case, so it can’t be assumed recommendations relate directly to the case of this young girl.”

The Ministerial Inquiry, conducted by former ombudsman Mel Smith, contains 13 recommendations.

Recommendations include:

• Better information sharing
• New CYF liason workers for schools
• Mandatory reporting of abuse and neglect
• Urgent research on kinship care
• Multi agency meetings, led by CYF
• Proceeding with amendments to Crimes Act and Privacy Act
• A new Child Protection Court

“The Green Paper on Vulnerable Children directly relates to the Ministerial Inquiry and raises issues like mandatory reporting and information sharing.”

“While we couldn’t release this Inquiry after it’s completion in March, the work has not stopped and most recommendations have been addressed.”

In the last year Government action for vulnerable children include:

• The Green Paper on Vulnerable Children
• More social workers in schools and on the frontline
• Review of Family Start
• Failure to Protect Bill passed
• Review of Family Court
• Working paediatrician appointed as Children’s Commissioner
• Children in Care package
• Agreement signed between CYF, Ministry of Health and Police
• Information Sharing Bill introduced
• Privacy Information Sharing Bill introduced

Child protection measures initiated by National since 2008:

• The Never, Ever Shake a Baby Campaign
• Supporting Auckland District Health Board’s shaken baby prevention pilot
• The NGO First Response Trial
• Placed CYF social workers into hospitals
• Multi-disciplinary meetings before abused child leaves hospital
• Better data and monitoring systems
• Independent Experts Forum

“This Government is focused on protecting children and we’re committed to doing the hard work to make a difference to child abuse,” says Ms Bennett.

“I can assure New Zealanders, we continue to introduce new measures across government to help keep children safe,” says Ms Bennett.

Full Ministerial Inquiry (the Smith report) and accompanying material available at


Scoop copies of documents:

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On National Being Shafted By Its Own Creation

As it licks its wounds, let’s hope the National Party can still find time to look back with some pride at what it has achieved in Epsom. The Act Party’s nationwide success on Saturday night has been a tribute to National’s foresight, and to its ability to pick winners. Others would have looked at the dying remnants of the old Act Party and written it off. Yet National needed an MMP partner and it saw the potential where no-one else did. And so it re-grew the Act Party in a petri dish in Epsom, and carefully nurtured it back to life... More>>


Green Party: 'Fruitful Discussions ... Further Discussions To Have'

The Green Party says there is a negotiation going on with the Labour Party, but there are more discussions to be had. More>>


Border: No Changes To Border Exemptions After Fishing Crew Test Covid-19 Positive

The cases were detected after routine day three testing but the immigration minister and air commodore agree there's no need to change border exemptions. More>>

PSA: Labour-Led Government Has Mandate For Transformation, Equality And Transparency

The Public Service Association welcomes the progressive electoral landslide New Zealand voters delivered on Saturday, and the union says its members look forward to implementing policies that reduce poverty and inequality, support affordable housing ... More>>


Poll: Labour On 46%, National 31%, While Greens And ACT Both On 8%

Tonight's political poll puts Labour on 46 percent and National on 31 percent with just one day remaining until election day. More>>


Stats NZ: New Report Shows Significant Changes To New Zealand’s Climate

Climate change is already happening in New Zealand and could have a profound impact on future generations of New Zealanders, a new report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ says. Our atmosphere and climate 2020 , released today, includes analysis ... More>>


Judith Collins: Obese People Must Take Responsibility For 'personal Choices'

National Party leader Judith Collins has described obesity as a weakness and says people should not 'blame systems for personal choices'. More>>

Māori Party: Poll Reveals Tamihere On Cusp Of Historic Māori Movement Election Victory

John Tamihere’s election campaign is on the rise and on track to return the Māori Party to parliament, a new Māori TV poll has revealed. The poll released on 11 October during the seventh and final Māori TV Maori Electoral campaign coverage has Tamihere ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Four-Year Terms Of Parliament, And On How The US Courts Are Dismantling Democracy

Last week, the issue of four-year parliamentary terms surfaced again. Infuriatingly, it is being discussed purely in terms of its convenience for political parties. They’d get so much more time to enact their policies, free of scrutiny or sanction by voters ... More>>





InfoPages News Channels