Minister Tolley agrees system has failed children

By Talisa Kupenga

A nationwide march against child abuse is being planned for next month, the day Moko's killers Tania Shailer and David Haerewa will be sentenced. Last night on Native Affairs Outgoing Children's Commissioner Dr. Russell Wills said New Zealand has failed in keeping children safe from child abuse, and the government agrees.

Children's commissioner Dr. Russel Wills says we have failed to keep children safe from the horrors of child abuse.

"The system has failed, Māori particularly tamariki and rangatahi Māori, so we need to be much smarter at how we work with hapū and whānau and iwi to meet the needs of those whānau."

The Minister of Social Development agrees and says the issues are being addressed through the Child Youth and Family reforms that come into effect next March.

"The Children's Commissioner has described it as visionary,” she says.
“That has a specific focus on Māori children because six out of the children in state care are Māori so we agree the system is broken and we are setting out on a major overhaul."

Tolley says there are already programmes underway leading up to the overhaul.

"My understanding is that the new system is being designed to work for Māori as an integral part of the system.
“In the meantime we've got a couple of trials working with iwi, so Mokopuna Ora and then the trial that's happening with Tuhoe in particular,” she says.
“How effective they are of course is hard to judge at this early stage."

Dr. Wills says he would like to see a collective approach.

'We need a plan particularly for housing, social housing, we need a plan for abuse and neglect, we need a plan for child poverty and they need to fit together,” he says.
"All those things are helpful but when you have a plan then the whole is greater than the sum of the parts."

The nationwide march against child abuse is being planned for the June 27.