Media Release 2 July 2013
Family First NZ says that the Government should immediately establish an independent CYF Complaints Authority as a watchdog on the state agency. The call comes in to response to a number of recent cases – including today’s case of shocking abuse by two parents on their four young children – where the agency has been shown to have acted inadequately or irresponsibly on serious cases of child abuse and with dysfunctional families.
“We need to have a mechanism that ensures that families who have been notified to CYF as being at-risk are actually monitored in an appropriate way, but also to prevent abuse of families by the State,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“It is difficult to understand why the government is so apprehensive about independent accountability for an organisation that can make decisions to uplift children and potentially destroy families without even having to produce concrete evidence of abuse. At other times, CYF have not acted when there was clear evidence that they should have. Where do families turn when they believe CYF isn’t performing?”
“CYF has an internal complaints process but virtually nobody trusts it, or knows about it, or uses it.”
“CYF work in very difficult circumstances but it is essential that there is external accountability for their actions. We are being contacted by far too many families saying that either CYF aren’t listening to serious concerns or that CYF are a ‘law unto themselves’,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“The police have an independent complaints authority – the IPCA. This is the type of watchdog we need for CYF.”
The Aotearoa NZ Association of Social Workers called for an independent complaints process for social workers in their submission to the government on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children.
“An independent CYF Complaints Authority will ensure that appropriate policy and procedures have been followed, will be in the best interests of the social workers, will result in public confidence and accountability for actions and decisions by CYF workers, and will protect families from abuse, and from abuse by the state,” says Mr McCoskrie.