Child Abuse Report Proves Need for Royal Commission

Media Release 21 Dec 2011
Family First NZ is calling for a non-political and independent inquiry into child abuse, family violence and family breakdown as a result of the Ministerial Inquiry into the abuse of a nine year old girl conducted by former ombudsman Mel Smith.

“The report contains clear evidence that the solutions to our horrific child abuse rates lie far deeper than simply providing multiple government funded agencies at the bottom of the cliff,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “It’s essential that we identify the root causes of family dysfunction and violence. It’s also essential that we remove political posturing and point-scoring from the process. The response of opposition political parties to the Green Paper on abuse proves this.”

Family First says that the Smith report shows shortfalls in collaboration and information sharing between  government-funded agencies, an insufficient response when there were so many ‘red flags’, limited resources, and failings in targeting at-risk families and rotten parents in general.

“The fact that the family of the West Auckland 9-year-old had been involved with 25 agencies including CYF, Waipereira Trust, Marinoto Child and Family Services, a registered ACC counsellor, a court-appointed psychologist, and the child’s court-appointed lawyer is ample proof that the ‘bottom of the cliff’ approach is not working and is not the key – we must look at the root causes of child abuse. Why is it happening in the first place?”

“Since the passing of the anti-smacking law, there has been a continual stream of child abuse cases, the rate of child abuse deaths has continued at the same rate as before, and resources have been diverted to chasing parents who use a smack, rather than targeting rotten parents with clear evidence of abuse and issues of family breakdown and dysfunction, drug and alcohol abuse issues, poverty and stress, and mental illness.”

“We have had Commission of Inquiries this year into the Pike river tragedy, the collapse of buildings and consequent loss of life in theChristchurchearthquake, and previous inquiries into police conduct (2004), genetic modification (2000–2001), andAucklandgovernance (2007-2009) – yet no inquiry into one of the greatest social problems facing the country. The issue of child abuse deserves a high priority total focus which a Commission would give,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

“The best Christmas present the government can give at-risk children is a Royal Commission into child abuse.”

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