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Iwi oversight needed for Maori child removals

14 August 2013

Iwi oversight needed for Maori child removals

The Green Party wants extra iwi oversight over new permanent out of family placements for Maori children who are three times as likely to be removed from their families as non-Maori.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday unveiled new laws that would prevent some parents from having access to any future children and would see more children taken off their families permanently.

“Given that the Social Development Ministry and population data shows Maori kids are three times as likely to be removed from their parents as non-Maori, extra care is needed to ensure tamariki will be genuinely better off in the state’s care,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

Ministry statistics show about 4000 children are in out of home placements, of which about half are Maori. Maori children make up about 25 per cent of the child population in New Zealand, so are three times as likely as non-Maori to be in out of home care.

“Of course, Child Youth and Family must act to protect Maori children, and all Kiwi kids, when they are in danger.

“But given the huge overrepresentation of Maori children in the state’s care, whanau, iwi and hapu must have additional guarantees they’ll be involved in any decision to remove a child from their home.

“CYFS efforts must go on ensuring whanau are given the support they need to provide the best home for their children. This involves properly resourcing programmes that work, such as Whanau Ora, and ensuring front line staff know how to deal with Maori families and their communities.

“The prospect of more Maori children being raised in strangers homes is hugely concerning.

“I’ve recently returned from Australia where politicians there are strongly promoting the adoption of Aboriginal children resulting in more being removed from their homes.

“All the experts here say that by addressing poverty, we’d remove a huge stressor on families that is connected to increased rates of child maltreatment and neglect.

“Paula Bennett’s threatening and punitive approach is likely to drive vulnerable families further underground, rather than encouraging them to put up their hands for help.

“It’s a condescending colonial approach that New Zealand could do without,” Mrs Turei said.

Link to CYFS data on out of family placements showing that about half of the approximately 4000 children in out of home placements are Maori: http://statistical-report-2011.msd.govt.nz/child,+youth+and+family/care+and+protection+services

ENDS

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