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New Act Strengthens Existing Laws but Training Needed

19 Mar 2012

Today the new Crimes Amendment Act 2011 comes into force, which creates a new offence of failing to protect a child or vulnerable adult and doubles the penalty for child abuse.

Amanda Meynell, Academic Services Manager for child abuse prevention specialists Child Matters says “We see the introduction of this Act as an important step in strengthening the existing the laws to protect children. The new Act makes families, extended families and those working with children in their residences more accountable, and removes the ability for people to ‘close ranks’ when an incidence of abuse has happened.”

Mrs Meynell continues. “Child Matters supports the Crimes Amendment Act as a means to ensure that people who witness child abuse have a legal obligation to take action to protect the child.”

“However, there is currently a barrier standing in the way of this Act being able to be as effective as it could, and should, be. This barrier is about the lack of understanding of what child abuse is, the inability for many people to recognise abuse when they see it and know what to do to help”

“The way to remove this barrier is definitely through training.” Says Mrs Meynell.
Those affected by the new Crimes Amendment Act are those who have frequent contact with a child or vulnerable adult and live in the same home; or staff in any hospital, institution or residence where the child or vulnerable adult resides.
Child Matters has a number of key resources and training that can help those working in organisations with children in residence, and support them to abide by the new act.

For those who need to upskill and feel confident in identifying possible abuse and taking appropriate action to help, Child Matters offers specialist training. Specially designed one-day workshops on this subject are now available. Child Matters also strongly recommends these people attend the one week comprehensive Child Protection Studies Programme.
For supporting organisations to ensure they have robust child protection policies in place, to reduce risk for their organisation, Child Matters has an online resource www.childsafeguide.org.nz which steps organisations through a process to develop robust and comprehensive policies.
For supporting organisations to employ suitable staff to work with children, and ensure no ‘unsafe’ staff are employed, Child Matters has a book called “Safe not Sorry” which is available to purchase from the Child Matters website www.childmatters.org.nz.
In regards to parents and whanau, Child Matters will be lobbying to the government to support the development and implementation of appropriately targeted training.

Child Matters has been working to raise understanding and awareness of the issue of child abuse for many years and welcomes changes like the Crimes Amendment Act that support the rights of children and that we all have a responsibility for keeping children safe.

For more information about the Crimes Amendment Act, child abuse or Child Matters’ training and resources, see www.childmatters.org.nz.


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Amanda Meynell, Academic Services Manager, 027 444 7544 or Amanda@childmatters.org.nz.
Anthea Simcock, CEO 021 402 430 or Anthea@childmatters.org.nz


About Child Matters:

• Child Matters is the only organisation in New Zealand solely focused on child abuse prevention, education and advocacy.
• It works to prevent child abuse by 1) speaking up for New Zealand children; and 2) educating adults to identify child abuse and take the appropriate action.
• Child Matters is a catalyst in communities, working to connect organisations and build leaders who are making positive impacts on child abuse prevention.
• Child Matters is an independent charitable trust with a cross sector view and influence around child abuse in New Zealand. It has links to all organisations who work with children and enables them to tackle the issue of child abuse in their local communities.
• Every adult in New Zealand is affected in some way by child abuse and, therefore, Child Matters believes every adult has a role to play in protecting children. Its child abuse prevention educational programmes are a powerful solution.
• Child Matters believes child abuse prevention education must be made compulsory for all key organisations working with children.
• Child Matters works with a range of organisations to educate their staff to identify child abuse and take the appropriate action. It encourages organisations to adopt a child abuse prevention education and staff wellness programme to demonstrate they take child abuse prevention seriously.
• Child Matters operates nationally.
• For more information, visit: www.childmatters.org.nz


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