South Auckland joins nationwide rallies against child abuse

By Taroi Black

Poverty was at the centre of debate in the South Auckland region as families rallied together against child abuse. Members of the public criticised the government for not doing enough to address the root of the problem.

Papakura protester Cherise Williams says, “This should've been done years ago, John Key.  We have had enough of your complacency, how you don't give a damn about the poor in our country and how these children are suffering.”

While mothers and their children stand in the wet and cold, they believe the system is still failing. Approximately 17% of the almost 108 thousand police referrals (including domestic violence referrals) are to the Counties Manukau region.

Member of the TOA board George Ngatai says, “Most of the affected cases are usually due to unemployment, the housing crisis and families don't get enough support.”

Labour MP for Manurewa Louisa Wall says, ““What we have to do is to show people a different way and give parents different resources that they need.  I mean I would say that it does (come) from a really clear policy around children which is what our paid parental leave is all about.”

According to statistics from the Ministry of Social Development.

In the years 2011-2015, on average over 3000 cases of substantiated physical abuse have been investigated by Child, Youth and Family.

The Child Poverty Action Group Social Security Spokesman says the reality of child abuse in NZ over that period has been stagnant.

Mike O'Brien of Child Poverty Action Group says, ““There's a lot of attention around protection of children - quite rightly.  But we haven't really done well as a country for quite a long time now in terms of really saying "children matter and we actually have to invest in children and give every child the best possible chance across everything, incomes, housing, health and so on."

 Members of the public released 47 doves outside the Auckland High Court to mark victims of child abuse.