Report Backs Call for Independent CYF Watchdog

Media Release 24 Sep 2015
Family First NZ is welcoming the panel’s interim report on Child, Youth and Family which agrees with our concerns that there is no fully independent watchdog to hold them to account.

The report says that there is “no independent voice or agency of sufficient size and capability to speak for children and hold the system to account“, and that a “more accessible complaints system is required.” It also highlights that the Children’s Commissioner’s monitoring has been insufficient, limited, and not fully independent.

“We need to have a mechanism that ensures that families who have been notified to CYF as being at-risk are being monitored in an appropriate way, but also to prevent abuse of families by the State. It is vital that there is 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. Where do families turn when they believe CYF isn’t performing?” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director.

“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’.”

“The report agrees there should be an accessible complaints system, but it should be seen as completely independent, in the same way that the Independent Police Conduct Authority is. We believe a judge overseeing the panel would be ideal, similar to the IPCA. We note that a key feature of the IPCA which they promote is that they are not part of the Police, is established by law to be fully independent, and is headed by a District Court Judge, and supported by independent investigators,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“A fully 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.”

ENDS