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White Paper On Vulnerable Children Misses The Mark For Māori

Media release

10 October 2012

White Paper On Vulnerable Children Misses The Mark For Māori

The Government’s White Paper on Vulnerable Children does not address the priority needs of Māori children, Executive Director of Māori child advocacy organisation Anton Blank said today.

“When it comes to New Zealand’s profile of child abuse and maltreatment, the elephant in the room in is the massive over-representation of Maori children. Half of the children killed through maltreatment in New Zealand are Māori, and our children are twice as likely as other groups to be subjected to child abuse.

“The White Paper fails to specifically address this issue. The government needs to develop a Māori-specific strategy in partnership with iwi, Māori leaders, and Māori experts. The strategy would need sustained and proportionate investment, over a number of decades, to transform Māori parenting and eradicate violence from Māori homes.

“More than 800 workers around the country have completed training in our Māori parenting model ‘Tikanga Whakatipu Ririki’. Early research tells us that whānau are responding well to the training, because of the Māori values at the core of the model. Any interventions we develop to address the needs of vulnerable Māori children must emerge out of a Māori cultural base.

The White Paper places heavy emphasis on enforcement and reporting of child abuse and proposes a public education campaign to give New Zealanders the skills to recognise and report child abuse.

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“For some time we have been advocating a public education campaign focused on revolutionising Māori parenting, and giving our whānau the skills to parent without violence. We estimate this would cost around $2m per annum which is a relatively modest investment.

“While the White Paper’s proposal is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t address the broader issues of how New Zealanders value and parent children. Its focus on reporting is narrow.”

Ririki supports other aspects of the White Paper.

“The emphasis on creating and equipping a child-centred work force is superb. Workers are still vulnerable to being captured by the needs of adults in high-risk families. The paper also sets out to create greater efficiencies in the co-ordination and sharing of information between agencies

“The White Paper recognises that the needs of children must be paramount and will enshrine this core principle in legislation and policy. We hope also that a greater emphasis on the needs of vulnerable Māori children will be an outcome of the work that follows.”


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