Whanau First call on Minister for Children for discussion
MEDIA RELEASE – May 19, 2019
Whanau First call on Minister for Children for discussion on the housing crisis and child removal
New child and family action group Whanau First is calling on Minister for Children Tracey Martin to open-up the discussion on the reasons increases in the numbers of children being removed from their parents and families are happening.
Group coordinator Lou Hutchinson, of Raglan, says the housing shortage created by the National government of 2008-2016 under then Prime Minister John Key has led to a number of children being removed from families, and will lead to more.
“Solo mothers and their children were probably the biggest group of sufferers when Housing New Zealand started pulling down and removing state homes,” she says. “Many were effectively evicted for no reason of their own and were pitched into years of struggle trying to find somewhere to call home.”
“There are still victims who as if the stress of losing their home was not bad enough have to face the daily threat of losing their children as well, or the stress of having already lost them,” she says. “This is unbearable to the people themselves and should be untenable to the Minister who we doubt has ever had any worries about where she might live.”
Ms Hutchinson said that at the other end of that, and other child removal issues, is the fact that more-and-more removals are being done on the basis that the removal is permanent.
“It is wrong for the Minister or her CEO to claim that the uplifting a child is only done as the last resort,” Ms Hutchinson says. “Many removals are taking place without all other options being explored. Some are being done with few options being explored, and some with very obvious options ignored.”
“Commonly this applies when children are taken on the basis there is no alternative whanau placement available,” she says. “This is often not actually the case and Ministry staff are then left scrambling for evidence to support they’ve already done.”
“The fact they are not accountable for what they say and do is at the very core of the current difficulties the Ministry is having,” Ms Hutchinson says.