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Vulnerable Children: The big picture

Written By: - Date published: 9:29 am, September 18th, 2013 - 43 comments
Categories: activism, class war, greens, hone harawira, labour, mana, paula bennett, phil twyford, poverty, same old national, unemployment - Tags: ,

Yesterday Paula Bennett introduced the First Reading of the Vulnerable Children Bill.  There is no doubt action is needed to deal with New Zealand’s appalling record of violence against children.  However, as opposition MPs argue, it needs to take into account the bigger picture of poverty, social context, and state agencies such as WINZ being in need of vast improvement.

It was hard to take Bennett’s expressed concern for anyone that is vulnerable, let alone children, following her ongoing attacks on beneficiaries.

Yesterday Sue Bradford’s post (Beneficiary ‘impact’ demonstrates reality of Nats’ war on the poor: but will Labour under Cunliffe do any better?) reported on last week’s AAAP, Impact advocacy action in New Lynn. She describes the desperate conditions in which many low income people are living, and the ways in which WINZ is not coping with pressing needs.

I met a number of sole mums living in horrendous conditions – overcrowded, cold and hungry, washing clothes by hand in the middle of winter and bunking down with their babies and young children in cramped, pest-infested accommodation not fit for humans.  It is no wonder so many children – and their parents – suffer chronic major illness.

It is hard not to feel angry when you find Work and Income turning people down for desperately needed food, clothing or appliance grants; not informing people of their full entitlements; and leaving seriously ill or disabled people on worktested benefits.

Opposition parties will support the Bill to committee stage. As Green MP Jan Logie said in her First Reading speech, the Greens will be guided by the submissions in their decisions about whether to give any further support to the Bill. Logie argued that the Bill doesn’t look at the wider social environment, but focuses on individuals in isolation.  She said there is a need to resource families and make it as easy as possible to get help, while inequalities distance people with the least from the mainstream. Logie also pointed to the problems of social workers being overloaded with cases.

In a press release, Hone Harawira says that

“Government wants to up the reporting of child abuse, even though Child Youth and Family admit that they haven’t even got the resources to deal with their current caseload” said Harawira.

“They’re talking about vetting hundreds of thousands of government workers, which is going to cost millions in itself, without even knowing if it will actually help protect our kids. “

And they want to sack anyone accused of offending against children – no investigation, no trial, no appeal – that’s a recipe for persecution if ever I heard one, and no guarantee that kids will be better protected. “

And all of that simply reinforces the belief that government is happy to take the stick to poor families, but won’t help them by increasing the minimum wage, or investing in job creation, or backing a feed the kids programme in schools, or even letting them stay in their state houses.

“I don’t doubt that the Minister is sincere in wanting to protect vulnerable children, but it all rings hollow when her government’s only measures are all punitive.

Jacinda Ardern’s press release says that,

“We still have major concerns around the risk predictor model and will confirm our position on the Vulnerable Children’s Bill following public submissions and the select committee process.

“We also believe more work needs to be done on the wider issues of child well-being, including child poverty.

This makes similar points to those given in her speech at yesterday’s First Reading.

Phil Twyford’s speech was particularly significant.  He pointed out that the government speakers for the Bill were at pains to distance themselves from issues of poverty and inequality. Twyford argued that social context, poverty and income inequalities, while not specifically causing child abuse, were underlying risk factors.

Links between child abuse, poverty and inequality are shown in the UNICEF 2006 report on violence against children (pp.30-2). It explains that measures to counter violence against children should include the reduction of:

[…] social and economic inequalities. Governments should analyse the impact of public policies on the vulnerability of communities and their children to violence, and commit substantial investment to the implementation of social, housing, employment, and quality education policies and programmes. Priority should be given to approaches that focus on poverty and improving linkages, participation and social networks within and between different community groups, thereby fulfilling economic, social and cultural rights; …

Social and economic risk factors are also addressed in a submission to the UN, coordinated by UNICEF New Zealand.

The relationship between poverty and violence is associated with the increased stresses that arise out of poverty, with the social alienation that accompanies poverty, with reduced access to supportive services and with lack of information about personal rights and entitlements.

Addressing violence must include a focus on addressing socio-economic disadvantage.

Green MP Catherine Delahunty’s speech, in talking about vulnerable children in a “holistic way”, focused on our violent society.  She also pointed out the links between violence against children and domestic violence against women. She is critical that the Bill does not address the issue of poverty and extra vulnerabilities of many women and children trying to escape from an abusive partner/father.

Delahunty’s argument is supported by domestic violence statistics as reported by NZ Women’s Refuges.The UNICEF NZ submission to the UN, also reported on the link between “domestic (or partner) violence and violence to children”:

Violence to children is closely linked to interpersonal violence between adults.

There is a need to scrutinise the progress of this Bill carefully and critically, so that the government does not get away with separating vulnerable children from issues of poverty and income inequalities. Furthermore there needs to be on-going pressure to improve the capabilities of  agencies such as WINZ.

43 comments on “Vulnerable Children: The big picture”

  1. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 1

    The person I really feel sorry for is James Parker. So much deprivation led him to the sorry situation he is in today. I am just glad someone is brave enough to speak out for him.

  2. One Anonymous Knucklehead 2

    Prof. Sir Peter Gluckman’s recent report identified MSD as wanting evidence for their policies.

    No wonder the Tories are in denial.

  3. Ad 3

    Ardern and Twyford should stop dicking around and support this bill. Labour gets on the wrong side of this they will get minced by Bennett. Select Committees these days change very very little other than a brave little minority report. Time we put the precautionary approach into managing children.

    • karol 3.1

      It’s not just Ardern and Twyford that are giving conditional support to the Bill, but Harawira and the Greens.

      They all state clearly they think something needs to be done to protect vulnerable children, but they have concerns about the means of achieving it via the Bill. these need to be highlighted.

      Ardern is calling for a plan that gets cross party support – Bennett is rejecting that – she is the one that should be minced.

      From Ardern’s press release – linked to in my post.

      “Not only is Labour committed to establishing a Ministry for Children, a Children’s Minister and a greater role for the Children’s Commissioner, we also remain committed to a cross party approach to child wellbeing and protection.

      “While the Government has, so far, not accepted several offers from us to work with it on the Children’s Action Plan, submissions on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children overwhelmingly supported a collaborative approach to policy in this area.

      “Accordingly I have written to Social Development Minister Paula Bennett today, outlining Labour’s intention to support work being done on the Plan, specifically around children’s teams.

      “We still have major concerns around the risk predictor model and will confirm our position on the Vulnerable Children’s Bill following public submissions and the select committee process.

      “We also believe more work needs to be done on the wider issues of child well-being, including child poverty.

    • Time we put the precautionary approach into managing children.

      Or, to put it another way, “Time to ditch the rule of law and the presumption of innocence.” It’s always that time if you’re an authoritarian, but hopefully not if you’re a Labour MP.

      As to poverty as a major risk factor for violence against children, yes it is and everyone knows it. But would you really want a National government coming up with policies based on the assumption that the poor are more likely to be child abusers? They wouldn’t be very pleasant policies, you can bet.

      I certainly agree that “Governments should analyse the impact of public policies on the vulnerability of communities and their children to violence…” In this country, that would result in some recognition that policies that have brought us to having large numbers of children exposed to the most serious risk factors for neglect and violence (those being: raised on a benefit; living with an unrelated male adult) are perhaps not in society’s best interest. Where that would lead us would probably also not greatly enthuse Sue Bradford.

      • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 3.2.1

        @ Populuxe,

        You make an extremely good point here, however can you take a look at your conclusion?

        “Where that would lead us would probably also not greatly enthuse Sue Bradford.”

        There just hasn’t been enough emphasis on the people in our economic approaches. How humans respond and are effected have been categorically denied.

        Now your comment seems to suggest that if these effects, the impact of policies, were finally looked at, that draconian ambulance-at-the-bottom-of -the-cliff measures are the only response possible.

        You are presenting a no-improvement-possible scenario. “If the problem is looked at draconian measures will ensue; that would be no good, so lets all go back to shutting our eyes.”

        There is another option here. The impact of policies could be assessed and there could be a shift in the policies pursued toward policies that rate human factors as important.

        • Populuxe1 3.2.1.1

          Um, not me – I think you mean Psycho Milt

          • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 3.2.1.1.1

            Eek, yes I mean Psycho Milt, sorry Populuxe1, how absent-minded of me!

        • Psycho Milt 3.2.1.2

          I’m just saying be careful what you wish for. If we start to analyse what policies are putting children at risk of violence, we’ll need to figure out whether any public policies are encouraging the raising of children on a benefit and the presence of non-related adult males in their homes, and what could be done to discourage those things. I guess there are ‘positive’ things we could do, but most of the things that spring to mind fall more into your category of ‘Draconian.’ Personally, I don’t mind which category we go for, as long as we do something at least.

          • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 3.2.1.2.1

            @ Psycho Milt (got your name correct this time!)

            Yes, it is very good to keep an eye out for unintended consequences and reminding everyone of such is a good activity. I do believe that prior to this government, that part of the process regarding consequences was taken very seriously!

            Despite taking considering-the-consequences seriously, however, I do think that successive governments have focussed on quick-fix ambulance-at-the-bottom-of-the-hill type remedies, so-much-so that they have been blinded to more productive answers. (Perhaps this has been due to too much influence from certain sectors who pressure governments to keep wages and working conditions low.). Blinded, also to the way their wider policies may be creating high levels of unemployment.

            Short-term approaches such as how DPB recipients have been given a way harder time for way longer than a single unemployed person. (I have usually concluded that this must be to try and get them off a benefit so that their children don’t get to be ‘normalized’ to such.) And the draconian measures they take toward cutting assistance to those in relationships and on welfare.

            Sadly these above approaches leads to more likelihood of the type of poverty trap that leads to a cycle of dare-I-say-it ‘welfare dependancy’.

            While members of government continue to believe that people ‘stay’ on benefits because they are lazy or ‘wrong-minded’, and omit to realise it is due to some people having more obstacles than others and that their own policies are creating poverty traps, poor working conditions, lack of jobs and ever-increasing obstacles toward up-skilling, then I daresay we will continue along the track of draconian measures.

            • Greywarbler 3.2.1.2.1.1

              I think when one looks at how DPB beneficiaries were treated (I understand it has now been changed greatly), it is necessary to look at the moralistic, blaming and shaming attitudes that became prevalent when Jenny Shipley was PM.

              Just dealing with the job of assisting single/solo parents to be good child raisers, and to keep in the work force to some extent increasing as the children get older, is of little importance in its totality. The WINZ approach is based on the idea of DPB people being immoral, feckless, irresponsible leading to the judgmental model of old-fashioned cold charity.

          • miravox 3.2.1.2.2

            ” the presence of non-related adult males in their homes, and what could be done to discourage those things.”

            There’s a serious problem of making public policy so draconian, and so discriminatory that children may be in at least as much risk from being raised in violence due to the presence of a related adult male in their home because there is no means to leave.

  4. Rogue Trooper 4

    Dear Poorlah, past behaviour is a correlated, though insufficient predictor of future behaviour. There FIFY!

    Individualistic approach- tick
    social work overburden- tick
    women abuse children- tick
    violent society- tick

    NB: It is predicted that 50% of the youth in some regions will be of Maori ethnicity in the coming decades

    However, I’m cool with this Bill (not the bs rhetoric necessary to pass it) and if it were not for Mercy, would seek the placement of a Child Harm Prevention Order on somebody I know quite well.
    Still, Mercy before Judgement, and don’t trust the Law Enforcement agencies. 😉

  5. Ad 5

    I can’t think of anything more weasly than setting up a Ministry for Children, or an upgraded Commissioner for Anything. Purest duck-shoving. Of course poverty is about everything, everything must be done. But that’s nothing to do with this bill in reality.

    Not a time to be weak about a basic protection measure. The progressives should get on board.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 5.1

      Not a time for macho-wanker posturing that will achieve sweet fuck all, either, so what’s your excuse, chump?

      • Ad 5.1.1

        Let me introduce you to Common Accountabiolity Platforms. The last time Labour tried anything remotely as good as this was in the Growth and Innovation Framework – which was largely economic devleopment in focus. Common accountability means everyone’s at-risk components are at risk, everyone actually has to act toegther and sign off on single plans, no new bullshit weak-ass Departments or quangoes are formed, and everyone gets to put up common budget bids – that’s what sends a ripple up Treasury and the Minister of Finacne when it comes to the real resource share. That also means Ministers are forced to work together if they are going to get the resource at the Cabinet table, and everyone’s ass hangs out in front of the media for stuff-ups.

        And then they are commonly accountable for the results.

        “The Bill introduces a new requirement for certain Chief Executives to collectively develop, and report on a vulnerable children’s plan.

        That plan must set out how these agencies will work together towards collectively achieving the Government’s priorities for vulnerable children.

        Chief Executives will have to report annually on the plan and answer to the responsible Minister on whether, or the extent to which each agency has implemented the plan for these kids.

        The plan will be made public.

        Do not underestimate the power of this unprecedented move.

        Never before in this country have the Chief Executives of Health, Education, Police, and Justice had this specific accountability for vulnerable children.

        Now they will, alongside the Ministry of Social Development of course.”

        If Ardern or the Greens had come up with that scale of cold hard machinery I would be singing their praises. What they do not need to do is whine right now. They need to see the scale of it.

        • karol 5.1.1.1

          The opposition parties are supporting it in the first instance. It is the role of opposition parties to subject government policies to in depth scrutiny.

          That’s not whining, that’s democracy in action.

          This government’s past record shows a disregard for democracy and wide public scrutiny of the proposed laws.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 5.1.1.2

          Ad, sure, that’s what the government and opposition are doing, but I was talking about you.

          • Rogue Trooper 5.1.1.2.1

            lol (sorry Ad, yet I was really enjoying your explication and confirmation) Thank-you.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 5.1.1.3

          PS: you’re joking, right? How will “accountability” fix the economic pressures that cause the problem? Is it going to stop the National Party slashing wages and attacking beneficiaries?

          • Ad 5.1.1.3.1

            No but it will do its intended job of making children safer from deviants, dorks, and childhood-destroyers. I am sure you have a glorious silver bullet for solving poverty. So go right ahead. Meantime, there’s your explanation of what the bill actually does.

            • One Anonymous Knucklehead 5.1.1.3.1.1

              Here’s how “accountability” will work in practice: when someone’s employment suffers because they’ve been held “accountable”, their lawyer will point out that violence against children is driven by inequality, not accountability, and the employment court will agree, and award compensation.

              Still at least they’re “getting tough on crime”, eh? Jesus wept.

            • karol 5.1.1.3.1.2

              In her speech at the First Reading, linked in my post, Ardern agrees on the importance of the overall plan. She says Labour supports it, but will aim to revise and develop the plan when in government. She agrees that it needs cross party support. however, she says she wants it links more to Labour’s plan to work to alleviate poverty. There needs to be a targeted plan for this.

  6. tricledrown 6

    Meanwhile in the UK the libdems have finally got their policy to feed every child at school up and running.
    Research has shown their is a 20% increase in learning.
    Mean while Blame the parents is the only policy Nact have.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Clegg trying to shore up the remnants of his social democratic credentials. Lib Dems have previously opposed Labour city councillors from introducing similar programmes.

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 6.2

      “Research has shown their is a 20% increase in learning.”

      Ya hungry there, yourself, tricledown?

  7. ghostrider888 7

    Let me tell you a little secret from the other side, cos’ the people whose abusive behaviour arising from their need to beat small children, or use them, including their own children, for sexual gratification has not been observed , are very deceptive, to others and themselves.

    • Ad 7.1

      Agreed. This needs to turn into the GCSB for the protection of children.

    • miravox 7.2

      +1 ghost. Deceptive and others are wilfully ignorant. Too quick to explain away what is staring them in the face.

      Unless vulnerable children legislation is going to deal with deceptiveness – and it can’t -, it may make kids lives worse as possible whistleblower adults look for greater proof before dobbing or keep away so they can remain wilfully ignorant.

      I’m also not sure how the legislation would define vulnerable children. As others have said there’s context to this. Some legislation already conflicts with the puported aim of this govt to keep children safe. Not just social welfare stuff, but also housing, legal aid, relationship counselling, women’s refuges and access to drug and alcohol treatment, just for starters.

      • karol 7.2.1

        I was listening to RNZ when I was driving this afternoon. On the Panel (yeah, I know), they had a lawyer interviewed who had read the Vulnerable Children Bill. He said that there would be an escalation in admin under this Bill should it become law as it is. It would be up to teachers, health staff, social workers etc, to manage claims that a person wasn’t safe to be around children. It wild involve lots of meetings etc. It would be a very costly process.

        So, basically, it would be up to the professionals to decide which “children”, apparently under 18 years, who would be designated as vulnerable to abuse.

        Then there’s also the problem that people will be designated as unsafe to be around children, without the need for legal level of proof.

        • Ad 7.2.1.1

          Survey New Zealand’s landscape of sexual abuse, child violence, rapes and molestations that never go to trial, and of those that do the miniscule level of convictions, and ask the hard question: is it still not time to act on clear suspicion – and continue New Zealand’s violence record on a world leading scale … or is it time at least to start with every single relevant government department was jointly held accountable for their safety?

          This culture shows no signs of believing what children say happens to them, so something else has to happen.

          We still (currently) have an RMA and biosecurity Acts with precautionary approaches to the environment, but not a precautionary approach to the safety of children?

          It’s time we challenged that. This bill does.

          • miravox 7.2.1.1.1

            “We still (currently) have an RMA and biosecurity Acts with precautionary approaches to the environment, but not a precautionary approach to the safety of children?

            It’s time we challenged that. This bill does”

            This bill is the equivalent of arresting someone for bringing in an apple off a plane. If you want full the RMA and biosecurity precautionary equivalent you’ll be looking at UNICEF submissions the post has linked to.

            A GCSB equivalent won’t fix it either, unless you’re going to put hidden cameras in every private space.

        • miravox 7.2.1.2

          Thanks Karol,

          Seems to me they’re not dealing with the ordinariness of reckless, stressed and plain nasty adults, in shitty situations, who have access to kids every day and that’s what the submissions you’ve linked to highlight.

          However, the Children’s Action Plan is extensive and important in many ways. But – is the Risk Predictor Model the major concern for Labour? Jacinda’s press release needed to be clearer about the issues with this. It means nothing to most people, as written, and the model is probably is part of the equation – if the data is there to safely predict at risk children, then use it (but don’t rely on it).

          Where as the risk predictor model is simply a tool, other parts of the plan actually change the direction of child protection quite dramatically without addressing the causes or necessarily creating lasting solutions.

          The biggest problems is context of people’s lives. There’s not a lot to address social as well as financial problems – poor lives, poor housing and rundown neighbourhoods with vulnerable people squashed into them, also stressed lives and ignored lives (at any income level). Funding for addiction problems and leaving or repairing failing relationships safely need to be boosted, not reduced. Current government moves in these areas have increased the likelihood of vulnerable children, imo.

          The action plan also dishes out response plans to charities and purchasing services for them (see how well this has worked in aged care). It’s a massive ideological change in it’s own right that will bring in all sorts of people into children’s lives and this is where the panel discussion you mentioned is important. No wonder the government feels the need to bring in the vetting legislation first.

          • karol 7.2.1.2.1

            I understand many people are concerned about a risk predictor approach to potential perpetrators of child abuse. The concern is that it doesn’t require a legal level of proof, but a suspicion and judgment by social workers, teachers etc.

            This quote from the Harawira pres release is relevant:

            And they want to sack anyone accused of offending against children – no investigation, no trial, no appeal – that’s a recipe for persecution if ever I heard one, and no guarantee that kids will be better protected. “

            Yes, miravox, everyone agrees that something needs to be done, and that there is possibly potential in Bennett’s Bill, but there are also many concerns that need to be looked at.

            • miravox 7.2.1.2.1.1

              I’m not sure Hone and Jacinda are talking about the same thing.

              Hone’s issue seems more specific to vetting. Clearly there is overlap. The risk predictor model, if it’s the one I think Jacinda is talking about, is more likely to identify parents at risk of abusing children, I would have thought.

              Hone’s comment is, however a good example of explaining how he sees the vetting problem. And he’s right, can you imagine the effect if a perfectly innocent person had to go about their life with this label attached? Or on children if say, a parent was accused in malice? Now that’s how to make a vulnerable child and vulnerable adult.

              Jacinda’s otoh, simply says they have major concerns about the risk predictor model – based on what? She doesn’t say. I’m assuming it’s this page of the children’s action plan

              And what’s the counter? The government can just roll out this MSD page:

              Ministry of Social Development commissioned the University of Auckland’s to consider how predictive modelling could be used to target early intervention to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect, and improve outcomes for children and young people.

              The University of Auckland’s research developed a predictive risk model for children in a cohort who had contact with the benefit system before age two. These children accounted for 83% of all children in for whom findings of substantiated maltreatment were recorded by age 5.

              This research indicates that predicting risk modelling had a fair, approaching good, power in predicting which of the young children having contact with the benefit system would be the subject of substantiated maltreatment by age five. This is similar to the predictive strength of mammograms for detecting breast cancer in the general population

              Whose side will the public be on? ‘Oh, the model can identify a few adults that can be tagged as potential abusers… collateral damage,’ they may say.

              NB – note that the model was tested using beneficiaries data. The report says it may be difficult to increase it to cover the wider community due to data limitations (see page 33 of rprt. Link on the MSD page above) – more stigmatisation and gaps in the whole programme if this is the case. That’s a big problem, I reckon. I wonder if Jacinda thinks so too.

              • karol

                miravox, I think Hone’s point about the risk of false accusations and Ardern’s reference to the risk-predictor model are linked. If a child is considered at risk, then they must be considered to be at risk of abuse from someone.

                In her speech, linked to in my post, Ardern talks about the risk predictor model then later says their concerns about this will be dealt with more by Andrew Little in his speech. She talks about the concern around the proposed new civil orders for child harm prevention orders. (about 7 mins 50). Labour will be looking for evidence that such orders will protect children from harm. The concern is particularly that overseas, no such order can be issued where there has been no criminal conviction in place.

                Little’s speech deals with the problem of protecting children, while ensuring that innocent people are not accused of being potential abusers.

                Earlier reports on the risk predictor model being used in the bill, describe the use of a database to track about 30,00 children deemed to be at rish=k:

                NZ Herald, Oct 2012.

                Ms Bennett said she was confident that the plans set out by the paper – including a Vulnerable Kids Database of up to 30,000 children considered to be most at risk of maltreatment – would work, and results would be seen almost immediately.
                […]
                The database of about 30,000 “at risk” children is to be created and accessed by health, school and social workers without parental knowledge as part of a huge overhaul of laws tackling child cruelty.

                Teachers, doctors, community organisations, Child, Youth and Family workers and others will have access to the database and be able to add to individual children’s records. High-risk adults will also be added to the database so they can be tracked and an alert given if a child moves into their household.

                My bold. So the judgement about a child being potentially at risk from abuse, will be linked to judgement about adults judged to be at risk of abusing children.

  8. Murray Olsen 8

    I can’t help thinking that action by conservative governments on the issue of child abuse have a habit of squeezing the abuse into unforeseen directions. They never try to understand the factors behind it and aim for a society where it will be stamped out. Their first instinct is to go for a police state type solution, clamping a lid down on the problem. This usually leads to some “experts” being imported, much like the doctors advising WINZ and ACC on “benefit addiction”. The Kiwi child psychologists and social workers, or a significant number of them, are all too happy to listen to these experts and we see rubbish results such as the Peter Ellis case. I’ve seen any number of child welfare reports which bear no relation to anything that actually happened.

    I do not want to see the government giving itself more power to invade our lives. I don’t think it will help at all. In fact, I’d put money on it making the situation worse.

    The real answers are much harder and go against the neoliberal orthodoxy. They recognise that society exists and aim to help build a more inclusive version, one where people’s first reaction is to help their fellow citizens rather than to call the Armed Offenders’ Squad on them.

  9. Tanz 9

    good on Bennett, she’s right re this. Not all child abuse is about poverty. Ask our grandparents, when welfare barely existed.

    • miravox 9.1

      “Ask our grandparents, when welfare barely existed.”

      No, not all child abuse is about poverty, but if I could ask my grandparents they’d say it wasn’t all rosy back then, either. They were poor, itinerant and had kids sleeping in sugar sacks.

      But at least they kept the kids, many couldn’t when welfare barely existed. Throughout Pakeha NZ history there have definitely been plenty of neglected, abandoned and ill children “suffering from the inadequacies of their parents or environment”, as the government worded it, who the education and child welfare systems set aside resources for. Start here for the list of children’s homes, health camps, industrial schools, special schools etc. and think about what proportion of kids it took to fill them, given the population. We all know there have been some horrendous abuses that have come about in these institutions.

      My grandparents eventually got state housing and in my parents day state housing, full employment, and an egalitarian society, with good public health checks through the education system and Plunket appeared reasonably important for a healthy childhood – didn’t work to fix domestic violence and sexual abuse though. That would have needed the DPB, so my mother could leave with the kids instead of leaving us to ourselves (but that was a few years away). That was pretty standard where I come from. And of course, in the worst cases of the domestic child abuse and neglect the kids that came to the attention of the authorities were trucked off to the institutions and other places. Potentially for a bit more of the same.

  10. xtasy 10

    ‘The Vulnerable Children Bill’ – as discussed on ‘The Panel’ on Radio NZ National on Wednesday, 18 Sept. 2013, on audio here:

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/2569736/the-panel-with-jonathan-krebs-and-neil-miller-part-2

    Listen from 09 min and 45 sec. onwards, where Jim Mora discusses this with guests Gordon McLauchlan and Jonathan Krebs, and also legal expert Gary Gottlieb, commenting on this by phone.

    It is not a positive feedback the bill gets in its present form.

  11. lenore 11

    I would like to make a plea to the Labour and Green MPs in regard to the employee screening. Please ensure that there is an independent authority set up to screen employees and do not leave it in the hands of the police and their vetting system. there have already been cases of the police red flagging people unfairly and the vetting arm (which is within the Police) not questioning the cops. There needs to be an independent group to keep the checks and balances and not leave it up to the Police!

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    The trouble with the Charter school model is that it is a publicly funded experiment on children. The National Government has consistently put its desire to open charter schools ahead of the safety of the children in them, ignoring repeated… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 days ago
  • Bank puts the squeeze on mid Canterbury farmers
    News that an unnamed bank in Ashburton has put a receiver on notice over financially vulnerable farmers will send a chill through rural New Zealand, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government needs to work with  New Zealand’s banks… ...
    2 days ago
  • Key is trading away New Zealand land and homes
    John Key yesterday admitted what National dishonestly refused to confirm in Parliament last week – he is trading away New Zealand’s right to control who buys our homes and land, says Opposition leader Andrew Little. “The Prime Minister must now… ...
    2 days ago
  • Razor gang takes scalpel to health
    Plans by the Government to take a scalpel to democratically elected health boards are deceitful and underhand, coming just months after an election during which they were never signalled, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Leaked documents reveals a radical… ...
    2 days ago
  • Spin lines show a department in chaos
    Corrections Spin Doctors sending their place holder lines to journalists instead of responding to serious allegations shows the scale of chaos at the department over the Serco scandal, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “As more and more serious allegations… ...
    4 days ago
  • Court ruling shows law should never have been passed
    A High Court ruling that a law banning prisoners from voting is inconsistent with a properly functioning democracy should be a wake-up call for the Government, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. In an unprecedented ruling Justice Paul Heath has… ...
    5 days ago
  • Judicial Review Gamble Pays Off for Problem Gambling Foundation
    Congratulations are due to the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGFNZ) who have won their legal case around how the Ministry of Health decided to award their contracts for problem gambling services to another service provider. Congratulations are due not just for… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    5 days ago
  • Environmental Protection Agency appoints GE advocate as new CEO
    This week, the Environmental Protection Authority Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament. The Bill puts protection of the environment into the core purpose of the Environmental Protection Authority. This month, Dr Allan Freeth, the former Chief Executive of… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    5 days ago
  • Charanpreet Dhaliwal death demands genuine health and safety reform
    The killing of a security guard on his first night on the job is exactly the kind of incident that National’s watered-down health and safety bill won’t prevent, says Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford. The coronial inquest into 22-year-old Charanpreet… ...
    5 days ago
  • Arbitrary sanctions hit children hardest
    Increasing numbers of single parents are being penalised under a regime that is overly focussed on sanctions rather than getting more people into work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Figures, obtained through Parliamentary questions show 3000 more sanctions,… ...
    5 days ago
  • Hekia just won’t face the facts
    Hekia Parata’s decision to keep troubled Whangaruru Charter school open despite being presented with a catalogue of failure defies belief, goes against official advice and breaks a Government promise to close these schools if they were failing, says Labour’s Education… ...
    5 days ago
  • No more silent witnesses
    Yesterday I attended the launch of a new initiative developed by and for Asian, Middle eastern and African youth to support young people to name and get support if there is domestic violence at home. The impact on children of… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    5 days ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    5 days ago
  • Minister must take responsibility for problem gambling debacle
    The Government’s handling of the Problem Gambling Foundation’s axing in a cost-cutting exercise has been ham-fisted and harmful to some of the most vulnerable people in society, Associate Health Labour spokesperson David Clark says.“Today’s court ruling overturning the axing of… ...
    5 days ago
  • Labour will not support TPP if it undermines NZ sovereignty
    The Labour Party will not support the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement unless key protections for New Zealanders are met, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.“Labour supports free trade. However, we will not support a TPP agreement that undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty. ...
    5 days ago
  • Coleman can’t ignore latest warnings
    Resident doctors have advised that a severe staffing shortage at North Shore Hospital is putting patients’ lives at risk, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “They say a mismatch between staffing levels and patient workloads at North Shore has… ...
    5 days ago
  • ACC must remove barriers to appeals
    The Government must prioritise removing barriers to justice for ACC claimants following a damning report by Acclaim Otago, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “ACC Minister Nikki Kaye must urgently scrap her flawed plan to remove claimant’s right to redress… ...
    6 days ago
  • Six months’ paid parental leave back on the agenda
    Six months’ paid parental leave is back on the agenda and a step closer to reality for Kiwi parents after Labour’s new Member’s Bill was pulled from today’s ballot, the Bill’s sponsor and Labour MP Sue Moroney says. “My Bill… ...
    6 days ago
  • Sole parents at risk of having no income
    New requirements for sole parents to undertake a reapplication process after a year is likely to mean a large number will face benefit cancellations, but not because they have obtained work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Increasing numbers… ...
    6 days ago
  • Juking the Welfare Stats Again
    Last week the government’s major initiative to combat child poverty (a paltry $25 increase) was exposed for what it is, a lie. The Government, through the Budget this year, claims to be engaging in the child poverty debate, but instead,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    6 days ago
  • OCR rate cut a result of flagging economy
    The Reserve Bank's decision to cut the Official Cash Rate to 3 per cent shows there is no encore for the so-called 'rock star' economy, says Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.   "Today's interest rate cut comes off the back… ...
    6 days ago
  • Reboot to an innovation economy, an Internet economy and a clean economy
    In my short 33 years on this planet we’ve seen phenomenal technological, economic and social change, and it’s realistic to expect the next 33 will see even more, even faster change. You can see it in the non-descript warehouse near… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    6 days ago
  • Bill that puts the environment into the EPA passes first hurdle
    A Bill that puts the environment squarely into legislation governing the Environmental Protection Authority passed its first reading today, says Meka Whaitiri.  “I introduced this member’s bill as the current law doesn’t actually make protecting the environment a goal of… ...
    6 days ago
  • Key’s KiwiSaver deception exposed
    KiwiSaver statistics released today expose John Key's claim that the cutting of the kickstart payment "will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver” to be duplicitous, says Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “Official… ...
    7 days ago
  • Minimum Wage Amendment Bill to protect contractors
    All New Zealanders should be treated fairly at work. Currently, the law allows non-employment relationships to be used to get around the minimum wage. This is unfair, says Labour MP David Parker. “The Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment Bill, a… ...
    7 days ago
  • Bill raises bar to protect Kiwi farmland
    The Government’s rubber-stamping of every one of the nearly 400 applications from overseas investors to buy New Zealand farm land over the last three years proves tougher laws are needed, Labour MP Phil Goff says. “In the last term of… ...
    7 days ago
  • Costly flag referendum should be dumped
    John Key must ditch the flag referendum before any more taxpayer money is wasted, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Millions of dollars could be saved if the Prime Minister called a halt to this hugely expensive, and highly unpopular, vanity… ...
    7 days ago
  • Nats letting Serco off scot free
    Government members have prevented Parliament’s Law and Order select committee from getting answers out of a senior Serco director about the fight clubs being run at Mt Eden prisons, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “At today’s Law and Order… ...
    7 days ago
  • Charter school experiment turns into shambles
    The National Government’s charter school experiment has descended into chaos and it’s time for Hekia Parata to stop trying to cover up the full extent of the problems, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “The Education Minister must release all… ...
    7 days ago
  • Disconnect between rates and income must be fixed
    Local Government New Zealand’s 10 Point Plan is a chance to stop the widening chasm between the rates some households are charged and their ability to pay, Labour’s Local Government spokesperson Su’a William Sio says. “There is a huge disconnect… ...
    1 week ago
  • Parole and ‘surviving the first year’
    “Intensive psychological treatment and early release to parole is far more effective at reducing reoffending among high risk prisoners than serving out the full prison sentence.” That’s reportedly the finding of Surviving the First Year, a recently-released study into Corrections’… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    1 week ago
  • Parole and ‘surviving the first year’
    “Intensive psychological treatment and early release to parole is far more effective at reducing reoffending among high risk prisoners than serving out the full prison sentence.” That’s reportedly the finding of Surviving the First Year, a recently-released study into Corrections’… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    1 week ago
  • If it’s good enough for Lake Taupō…
    Nick Smith supports helping farmers transition away from dairying and agrees we must set nitrogen caps that limit the number of animals on farms. He says this strategy is “world leading”. However we need action and pressure from him, on to… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • The importance of swamp kauri for climate research
    As early as 2010, international climate scientists were expressing concern at the rate of ancient swamp kauri extraction in Northland. Swamp kauri provides one of the best sources in the world for measuring climate fluctuations over the last 30,000 years.… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Govt needs to heed warnings on med students
    The Government is being urged to act on advice it has received about the negative impact its seven year study cap will have on hundreds of medical students, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “The 7EFTS lifetime limit unfairly disadvantages… ...
    1 week ago
  • Ministers at sea over overseas buyers register
    The Prime Minister and three of his ministers are at odds over the collection of information about offshore speculators buying our houses and seem to be making things up as they go, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “John Key… ...
    1 week ago
  • Time for Key to ditch the King Canute routine
    With the economic mood in New Zealand souring, it is time for John Key to admit reality and drop the King Canute approach, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “John Key is claiming that 95 per cent of the economy… ...
    1 week ago
  • Botched contract leads to charter school rort
    A botched Government contract has allowed an Auckland charter school to double dip by getting funding for students it has accommodated for free, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Information received by Labour through written Parliamentary questions show the Ministry… ...
    1 week ago
  • Flawed system costs $3 million and counting
    New figures obtained* by Labour show the Government’s shambolic ACC car registration levy system has cost more than $3 million to implement and the costs are set to escalate, Labour's ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “That’s $3 million that could… ...
    1 week ago
  • Radio NZ facing death by 1000 cuts
    The National Government’s seven year funding freeze on Radio New Zealand has put its vital public broadcasting services in serious jeopardy, Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran says. "The axing of 20 jobs at our only publicly funded broadcaster shows the… ...
    1 week ago
  • Trades funding cut short-sighted
      Short-sighted funding cuts could lead to fewer school students learning trades, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. "Schools are now being financially penalised for enrolling students in trades academies. They could lose teachers and school management positions as a… ...
    1 week ago
  • The rock star economy is well out of tune
    The bad news is mounting for the economy with job ads falling in June, suggesting employment is taking a hit, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “ANZs Job Ads data shows job advertising fell 0.6 per cent in June and is… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Treasury latest to withhold Saudi sheep scandal information
    The Labour Party will today lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman after the Treasury became the latest government department to withhold information on the Saudi sheep scandal. Labour’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson David Parker says the Government has been… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Calls to extend life-saving training
    The Government must ensure all health sector workers are not only be trained to routinely check for medical identification bracelets but have access to critical online patient information, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “The tragic death of an 80-year-old… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Making business tax more flexible
    Labour is launching a new proposal to give businesses more flexibility and control over when they pay their tax, Opposition Leader Andrew Little announced today. “Today I am launching a discussion document to give businesses the option of paying their… ...
    2 weeks ago

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