- Date published:
10:52 am, September 4th, 2019 - 7 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, child abuse, child welfare, culture, domestic violence, Ethics, Media, news, Social issues, violence against women - Tags:
It surprises me that mainstream media have not yet picked up on the concerning parallels between reported events that occurred at Te Whare Pounamu Dunedin Women’s Refuge and earlier events occurring at another Women’s Refuge in 2016. Events that ignored the needs of three year old Moko Rangitoheriri leading up to his death at the hands of his caregivers.
The headlines in August 2017 highlighted that a Women’s Refuge worker overlooked disclosures that Moko was being abused. The article claims that “[a] worker at the Maori Women’s Refuge was told “Aunty Tania would punch Moko” but did nothing about it”. Women’s Refuge denied the disclosure was made, despite this being the social worker’s initial account to police.
As those concerns were hitting the headlines again in August 2017, another social worker began working at the Dunedin Women’s Refuge (Te Whare Pounamu). Within weeks into her job she became concerned that disclosures of serious abuse were being ignored.
She heard about a child disclosing serious physical abuse happening to them in their home and that disclosure was not acted on, Miss Thomas said.
The appropriate procedure would be for an immediate report of concern to be made to Oranga Tamariki, she said. That did not happen.
“There were a lot of excuses made to me, so there were promises that this would be followed up on – constant promises that this would be followed up on. I was monitoring the situation, I couldn’t see there was any follow-up occurring, I kept pushing for information from the child advocate and from the manager. They kept saying they were going to follow up on this, I had to take them at their word, and then it became quickly apparent that they hadn’t followed through. They started stonewalling me.”
She sought advice from her colleagues and was told it was not the first time such concerns were ignored.
“I had been informed it wasn’t an isolated situation,” she said.
“One staff member said to me that similar concerns had been shut down in the past.”
Despite Women’s Refuge staff being implicated in ignoring abuse concerns in 2016 and being outed for it after the death of little Moko, it seems they’ve not learned from that tragedy. In fact it appears that Te Whare Pounamu have a habit of ignoring such concerns, including sexual abuse disclosures.
I would have thought after the tragic death of little Moko that Women’s Refuge would have cleaned up its act. Yet three years after his death, and during a time when these details were becoming public knowledge, a Women’s Refuge in Dunedin were flouting their responsibilities to vulnerable children and it appears this occurred on a number of occasions.
Meanwhile, in reference to Te Whare Pounamu the CE of Women’s Refuge Ang Jury states that Women’s Refuge “have no concerns around the safety of women and children accessing the service”. We are confident that there are significant safeguards put in place to deal with some of those issues”
Ang Jury’s statement appears to be at odds with what staff at the organisation reported to media.
In May 2016, after Moko’s death, Women’s Refuge stated that they have “a robust Child Abuse Reporting Protocol in place and if a disclosure of this kind had been made to us, it would have resulted in an immediate notification of concern to CYF…”
If that is the case then Ang Jury needs to explain to the public why Te Whare Pounamu have repeatedly ignored children’s disclosures of abuse and why they have not only failed to make ‘immediate’ notifications but also failed to adequately record the disclosures.
How can the public have any faith that children using the service are safe if those running the service actively ignore concerns about abuse and, it appears, actively evade their statutory responsibilities to vulnerable children?
Women’s Refuge have a lot of explaining to do.