New Zealand overhauls child protection

family law

The New Zealand government is set to overhaul the way it approaches child protection.

The government department which deals with this issue, the Ministry of Child Youth and Family (CYF), will be replaced by the Ministry for Vulnerable Children. Lawmakers insist that this represents more than just a name change and hope a shift in emphasis will improve the way child abuse and neglect cases are handled.

CEO of the new Ministry Grainne Moss said its staff “must open our ears, we must listen right from the start” in order to effectively protect vulnerable children.

Although reports of abuse and neglect reports have fallen there are still far too many instances, the new Ministry insists. In the second half of 2015 there were 7,571 reports of such crimes and 6,808 in the latter half of last year according to CYF figures.

There are also more than 5,000 children in care and most of those are of Maori descent. New Zealand Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft called this state of affairs “dismal, disgraceful and utterly unacceptable” but was optimistic about the newly created department. There was “pretty widespread consensus that the vision that’s been set out [by the Ministry for Vulnerable Children] is the correct one” he continued, adding:

“I guess the concern for anybody is that with a good vision still on the whiteboard, is it going to be delivered in practice and properly resourced?”

In the UK the Home Office has pledged to spend as much as £40 million to fund anti-abuse measures. These include the National Crime Agency’s efforts to reduce the risk of online sexual exploitation. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the idea that children should grow up without the fear of abuse or exploitation “should go without saying, but sadly that’s not the case”.

Photo of the New Zealand flag by Nick Kean via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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