Family First NZ is welcoming the Campaign for Action on Family Violence announced by the government today, but says it is only one component in dealing with the unacceptable rates of child abuse in New Zealand.
“Family First is promoting a 5-point Action Plan which is far wider reaching than today’s announcement,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First.
“Our message has consistently been that the solution to child abuse does not lie in waiting for the government to find the solution or to act, but for local communities and organisations who are already working daily with at-risk families to be given ownership of the problem and to be empowered to provide real and workable solutions.”
“A media campaign and an 0800 number simply makes this need even more urgent.”
“The politicians, by spending so much time and energy on section 59 and ignoring the UNICEF and CYF reports highlighting the key contributing causes of child abuse, have shown that they are unwilling and unable to deal with real causes of child abuse. Their cross-party committee to tackle child abuse after the Kahui case self-destructed.”
“We need local communities to be able to break through the political correctness which has silenced us for too long, and talk about tackling the real issues of drug and alcohol abuse and family breakdown,” says Mr McCoskrie. “Too many charitable groups are barely surviving and dependent on charitable Grants and gifts, when we should be enabling them to be even more effective in their important work.”
Family First’s Action Plan includes:
1.establishing a non-political Commission of Inquiry comprising community leaders who are already working with at-risk families and who will identify causes of child abuse and effective solutions, and examining specifically the role of drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown, race-based issues, poverty and stress, and other factors.
2.an immediate increase of support and resourcing to grass-root community organisations who are educating and working with at-risk families – Barnados, Salvation Army, Crosspower Ministries in Otara, Homes of Hope in Tauranga, Te Whare Ruruhau O Meri in South Auckland, Amokura in Northland, Family Help Trust in Christchurch, and many other charitable groups around the country working within their communities
3.an increased availability of parenting and marriage programmes such as Parents Inc, Triple P and other early childhood home-based programmes – for example HIPPY run by Great Potentials, Early Start, Parents as First Teachers, Plunket Helpline etc and other community based positive parenting programmes.
4.a media-based anti-child abuse and positive parenting campaign, in the same way road safety ‘shock’ campaigns are run, raising the awareness of and encouraging ‘positive’ parenting and identifying what is abuse
5.sentencing for those who abuse and kill our children to be substantially increased to provide both a deterrent and a clear message of our community’s disgust with the actions of people who abuse children.
“Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but there are still far greater issues of strengthening the arm of organisations working in local communities, and an acknowledgement by our political leaders of the harm of family breakdown and substance abuse,” says Mr McCoskrie.