Media Release 1 Apr 2015
Family First NZ is supporting calls for intervention in families where obesity is an urgent health issue, but says that intervention by CYF and removal of children from their families will only exacerbate the problem.
“Family First supports the approach suggested by Starship hospital paediatrician Dr Patrick Kelly whereby families receive the education and support required and intervention is only used as an absolute last resource where the obesity is part of an extended package of neglect and abuse happening within the family. Compulsory attendance at courses and monitoring in the home may be required to get some parents to take action. But to remove a child from their family will be hugely traumatic for that child and may add to the problem,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“The best solution is for non-governmental organisations to be resourced and equipped to work with the family in the home and the community, and to only use statutory intervention where there is persistent non-compliance and obvious dysfunction with the parents.”
“We should also be asking some of the harder questions around reasons for increasing obesity rates in New Zealand. These include issues such as reduced physical activity and increased screentime, sleep patterns, food quality especially in cheaper foods, busy parents, and ‘obesogenic environments’ – ‘fat cities’ with few parks and recreational facilities,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Seeing the solution as using the statutory force of CYF will concern most families.”
“A review by the ministry of Social Development found that CYF is massively understaffed and that social workers do not have manageable caseloads and workloads. One of the key comments was ‘….we are working with people and children and all of our decisions affect their lives forever. It would be good to be able to have the time and capacity to think, analyse and reflect rather than acting in the moment…’.”
“CYF perform a necessary function but the lack of accountability to their process and procedures and their overwhelming workload should concern all families. There is no external and independent accountability. We need CYF to get it right, and we need to know that they’re getting it right. That evidence is not there.”
“Let’s work with families – not against families to tackle this urgent issue.”