The Prime Minister has called on child welfare groups to convince the public that Sue Bradford’s ‘anti-smacking’ bill will not have the effect that so many legal experts and QC’s, social workers, Police and family-based organisations have confirmed this bill will have if it becomes law.
Family First National Director Bob McCoskrie says that groups like Barnados, Plunket and CYF’s will firstly have to persuade their own social workers that the bill should be passed.
Family First and other organisations opposing the bill, and who are calling on the government to tackle the real causes of child abuse, are being contacted by social workers who oppose the bill but are too afraid to speak up within their organisation.
Family First has already published details of social workers being bullied and intimidated at a conference run by the Children’s Commissioner in Auckland last year. It is understood that two of the social workers who opposed the repeal of s59 were subsequently disciplined as a result of making their views known.
A Barnardos social worker who contacted Family First confidentially said that Barnardos are not interested in hearing the views of the workers, yet expect the front line workers to follow the “party line”. The clear message given to the social workers was that it was expected that 100% of Barnardos workers would actively support the repeal.
Another social worker who contacted Family First said that they were threatened with losing their job if they signed the petition demanding a Referendum on the issue.
“It is totally unacceptable for front-line social workers to be threatened and disciplined for opposing the anti-smacking bill,” says Mr McCoskrie. “Their view is far more valid than the Wellington-based bosses who are under the watchful eye of the Children’s and Families Commissioners and the now revealed government agenda on this issue.”
“Many organisations and social workers are fearful of speaking their mind on this issue because of the threat of losing their job or government funding,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Family First challenges Barnados, CYFS and Plunket to survey the views of their own social workers firstly, before trying to persuade the majority of NZ’ers who oppose the bill that they are wrong and the government is right.