Playcentres hit out at ‘vetting’ bill

The Southland Times 15 September 2008

The Southland Playcentre Association has hit out at the surprise introduction of a clause requiring police checks for volunteers working with children at early childhood education centres and schools. The Education Amendment Bill proposes police vetting of all people who have unsupervised access to children during the opening hours of early childhood education centres and schools. The bill, introduced into Parliament last week, would require a police check to be done on any adult in an unsupervised situation with children at an early childhood education centre or school.

Southland Playcentre chairwoman Annette Bailiss-Trent said for playcentres in the region this would initially require police checks for each of the 381 regular caregivers attending, adding a compliance burden to already overloaded parent volunteers. “What this proposal will do is create a culture of mistrust, create a giant and costly compliance burden for every single parent-led early childhood centre in the country — plus take thousands of volunteers away from early childhood services, playgroups and schools.” Mrs Bailiss-Trent said she understood from figures from the New Zealand Educational Institute that of 35,000 non-teacher police vets requested between 2004 and 2006, only seven people were identified as “sensitive” or with “red stamps”.