Media Release 7 April 2016
Family First NZ says that the Government restructure of CYF continues to ignore the desperate need for a fully independent CYF Complaints Authority as a watchdog on the state agency.
“Irrespective of how the system is actually structured, we must 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? There is 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 report to the government in 2013 endorsed the call for an independent CYF Complaints Authority, saying that a complaints authority is well overdue.
“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.