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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

          Um, not me – I think you mean Psycho Milt

          • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

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

        • Psycho Milt

          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)

            @ 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

              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

            ” 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

          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

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

          • Rogue Trooper

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

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead

          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

            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

              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

              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

          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

            “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

          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

            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

              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:


    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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    Earlier this week, Corrections Minister Judith Collins announced the government’s ‘solution’ to our burgeoning prison population. It seems that most, if not all, of Bill English’s hard-won surplus is going to disappear into another round of prison-building.  That must be ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    1 week ago
  • PKE Ship Sent Packing – Not Too Soon
    It is appropriate that the palm kernel expeller (PKE) ship off Tauranga has been sent packing. For weeks I have been saying this ship needed to be sent away, but it seems as if MPI has been trying to find ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning
    1 week ago
  • Do you #LoveSnow?
    I was a lucky kid. When I was about five or six my mum and auntie took me up to Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu and taught me to ski. As a young kid I thought there was no bigger ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    1 week ago
  • Awa Kairangi/Hutt River – Swimmable?
    On Thursday night I hosted a great swimmable rivers meeting organised by the local Greens in Heretaunga (Hutt Valley). It was great to see about 70 people attend and engage in the topic. We were welcomed by Te Atiawa representative ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • September benefit figures disappointing
    The Government is out of touch with the reality that fewer people are going off the benefit and into employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The quarterly benefit numbers for September are concerning. They show that ...
    1 week ago
  • MFAT officials refuse to back Prime Minister on Saudi sheep claims
    An Ombudsman’s interim decision released about the existence or otherwise of legal advice on the multimillion dollar Saudi sheep deal shows MFAT has failed to back up the Prime Minister’s claims on the matter, says Labour MP David Parker. “The ...
    1 week ago
  • Barry Coates on his first weeks in Parliament
    Week one in Parliament has been quite an occasion. I would like to share the experience. I had given up on the prospect of getting into Parliament before the election and had been enjoying the diverse work I was doing ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    1 week ago
  • Nats still planning to take Housing NZ dividend
    Housing New Zealand’s Statement of Performance Expectations shows that the National Government intends to pocket $237m from Housing New Zealand this year including a $54m “surplus distribution”, despite promises that dividends would stop, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “After ...
    1 week ago
  • Parliament must restore democracy for Ecan
    Parliament has a chance to return full democracy to Canterbury with the drawing of a member’s bill that would replace the Government’s appointed commissioners with democratically elected councillors, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods. “In 2010, the Government stripped Cantabrians ...
    1 week ago
  • Police struggle to hold the line in Northland
    Labour’s promise of a thousand extra police will go a long way to calming the fears of people in the North, says the MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis.  “Police are talking about the Northland towns of Kaitaia and ...
    1 week ago
  • Vote Sooty Shearwater/Tītī for Bird of the Year
    Sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) are amazing and deserve your vote in Forest and Bird’s Bird of the Year competition.  They make one of the longest known bird migrations, flying an annual round trip of 64,000 kms across the entire Pacific ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed
    Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan ...
    1 week ago
  • Super Fund climate change approach a good start
    Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson and Climate Change Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods have welcomed the adoption of a climate change investment strategy by the New Zealand Super Fund. “This is a good start. It is a welcome development that the Super ...
    1 week ago
  • Energy use going in the wrong direction
    New data out this week from Statistics NZ paints a concerning picture of energy use across the economy under this National Government. You won’t be surprised to hear that there is some seriously worrying information here about how dirty our ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 week ago
  • Raising the age the right thing to do
    The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern "The Government indicated some time ago ...
    1 week ago
  • Junior Doctors go on Strike
    Thousands of junior doctors took strike action for 24 hours this week for better working conditions and safer working hours.  The Green Party supports their cause, and particularly their claims to reduce the number of days worked from up to ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    1 week ago
  • Coleman plays down the plight of junior doctors
    Junior doctors are crucial to our health services and the industrial action that continues tomorrow shows how desperately the Government has underfunded health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Jonathan Coleman’s claim that he has not seen objective evidence of ...
    1 week ago
  • Inflation piles pressure on National and Reserve Bank
    While many households will welcome the low inflation figures announced today, they highlight serious questions for both the National government and the Reserve Bank, Labour’s  Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson said.  "While low inflation will be welcomed by many, the ...
    1 week ago
  • Officials warned Nat’s $1b infrastructure fund ineffective and rushed
    Treasury papers show the Government rushed out an infrastructure announcement officials told them risked making no significant difference to housing supply, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Like so much of National’s housing policy, this was another poll-driven PR initiative ...
    1 week ago
  • More cops needed to tackle P
    New Police statistics obtained in Written Questions show John Key is losing his War on P, highlighting the need for more Police, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “New Zealanders expect serious action on P but today’s hodgepodge of half-measures won’t ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Strengthening our relationship with the Rātana movement
    It was a privilege to visit Rātana Pā last week with fellow Greens’ Co-leader James Shaw, our Māori Caucus and senior staff to meet with the leaders of te iwi mōrehu, to strengthen the ties between the Green Party and ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    2 weeks ago
  • MBIE docs show country needs KiwiBuild, not Key’s pretend “building boom”
    John Key’s spin that New Zealand is in a building boom does not change the massive shortfall in building construction as new MBIE papers reveal, says Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We can fix the housing crisis, by the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1 in 7 Akl houses now going to big property speculators
    Speculators are running riot in the Auckland housing market making life tougher for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  Newly released data from Core Logic shows a 40 per cent increase in the share of house sales ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Disconnected thinking dirties the water
    Iain Rabbitts’ belief that drinking water quality, charging for water use and the land use that leads to water quality degradation should be treated separately is part of the problem we have right now in this country. The connection is ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Report back from Hands Off Our Tamariki hui
    This week I attended a hui in Otaki organised by Hands Off Our Tamariki about the proposed reforms to the Child Young Persons and their Families Act. Moana Jackson and Paora Moyle spoke.  They expressed deep, profound concern about the proposed ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour mourns passing of Helen Kelly
    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s visionless immigration policy
    National’s recent immigration announcement is a continuation of the visionless approach to government that it has displayed in the last three terms. Rather than using the levers of government to implement a sustainable immigration policy that benefits new and current ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Seclusion rooms in schools
    Schools are undoubtedly stretched and underfunded to cope with students with high learning support needs. But this cannot justify the use of rooms (or cupboards) as spaces to forcibly isolate children. It has emerged via media that this practice continues ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Public should get a say on new Waikato power station
    I had an opinion piece published in the Waikato Times about a controversial proposal to build a new gas-fired power station. It’s not on their website yet, so here it is: If you think the public would get a say ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago
  • MSD and their investment approach
    The Government talks about investment but there is no investment. It is not investment if it isn’t over the whole of life and if there is no new money  — Shamubeel Eaqub   Investment sounds like adequate resourcing but this ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Certainty needed for community services
    A couple of months ago I was at a seminar where three community organisations were presenting. Two of the three presenters were waiting to find out if their organisation would get a contract renewed with MSD. Not knowing if their ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Domestic Violence – some advice for the media
    For the purpose of this piece, I’m going to use Domestic Violence (DV) as a proxy for intimate partner violence. DV is not isolated to physical abuse in a relationship between people with the same power. DV is a pattern of ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    3 weeks ago
  • Leroy’s New Paw Prints
    Leroy, an Auckland great dane recently received a new 3D printed bionic leg after cancer was discovered. I think this is a fantastic story and highlights the real potential of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing Leroy’s prosthetic was printed in titanium and was ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    3 weeks ago