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#1 Guest_NoRehab_*

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:21 AM

How many more lives before lessons are learned?
Thursday, 18 December 2003, 11:52 am
Press Release: New Zealand National Party

How many more lives before lessons are learned?

"More recommendations, more policy revision and more excuses from CYF over the tragic death of Coral-Ellen Burrows," says National Party Welfare spokeswoman Katherine Rich.

She's responding to the CYF report into the 21 minute phone call made by Ron Burrows on January 21st warning the Department that Coral-Ellen was at risk of abuse.

"This has been a sorry story from start to finish and the Department made the situation far worse when it initially denied Ron Burrows' claims.

"The report backs up Mr Burrows and paints a sorry picture of a Department that's lacking leadership from its Minister," says Mrs Rich.

"The report says:

* The phone call should have been treated as a notification of child abuse but was not. It recommends revision of the policy in this area.

* The Department's induction of social workers into the call centre environment is not effective.

* Policies regarding clinical supervision are not adhered to in the call centre.

* Supervision should occur to decide on whether a call should be given notification.

* The call centre lacks adequate audio-recording facilities and all calls to social workers should be recorded.

"So we have yet another report, highlighting fundamental flaws in the service that's supposed to provide the first line of defence for our most vulnerable children.

"When will Ruth Dyson accept that CYF needs more than just kind wishes and hand-outs? What it really needs is some leadership from the Minister," says Mrs Rich.

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:25 AM

Agency admits failures in brutal child killings


They were three of New Zealand's most brutal killings with three things in common.

All the victims were children, all the killers were men supposed to have taken on the role of a father and state social workers had been involved in each child's case.

Three-year-old Huntly boy Tamati Pokaia was beaten to death by his foster father, Michael Waterhouse, in April last year. Yesterday Waterhouse was jailed for 10 years for killing Tamati.

Hamilton 12-year-old Kelly Gush was kicked to death by her mother's partner, Darran Mackness, in August last year. Mackness was found guilty of murder in March.

Two months ago it was Featherston 6-year-old Coral-Ellen Burrows, punched almost to death by her stepfather Steven Williams, who finished her off by hitting her over the head with a tree branch. Williams pleaded guilty to murder last week.

In each case the children were being punished for doing something any child might do.

Tamati enraged Waterhouse by bringing a bag of popcorn home from kindergarten; Kelly vomited up her dinner; Coral-Ellen "got cheeky" to Williams.

In each case the Child, Youth and Family Department social workers had not only had dealings with the children, they were also familiar with the men who ended up killing them.

Yesterday it admitted mistakes were made in the Kelly Gush and Tamati Pokaia cases.

The themes were almost identical:

"The department did not meet its standard of visiting children in care every two months," the Tamati review found.

And in Kelly's case: "The department did not meet its own standards in some aspects of its involvement with Kelly and her family."

Today it will release the findings of its review of its handling of Coral-Ellen Burrows. It has already admitted - after initially denying it - that its staff received but ignored a phone call from her father, Ron Burrows, warning that something was wrong.

Opposition politicians attacked the Government for failing to act quickly enough to put things right at the troubled department, which has struggled with understaffing, high workloads, low morale and poor organisation.

"There have already been too many apologies from CYF this year," said National welfare spokeswoman Katherine Rich. "How many more children will die before Labour accepts that CYF needs more than just money and carefully crafted spin?"

Act's Muriel Newman said it was time for CYF Minister Ruth Dyson to accept the blame for her department's failings. She called the "hand-wringing" reports a whitewash. No one had been held directly responsible.

Ms Dyson elected not to defend herself or her department last night, saying she would comment today on all three reports after the Coral-Ellen Burrows report is made public. That had been delayed a day at the request of Mr Burrows, who said he wanted time to read it.

Public Service Association national secretary Richard Wagstaff said the department had been struggling to cope for some time.

It urgently needed to spend the extra funding announced by the Government earlier this year to recruit more staff and put better systems in place.

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:27 AM

Girl in CYF care working as stripper


A 15-year-old girl in the care of Child, Youth and Family has been found working as a stripper in a Nelson nightclub.

The girl's father, who was not identified, said last night that police were powerless to stop his daughter working in a strip joint.

"It disgusts me, and police are also disgusted, but their lawyers tell them there's no legal age minimum for strippers," he told the Holmes.

"It's a hole in the law that these club owners are exploiting."

Nelson MP, National's Nick Smith, said it was "disgraceful" that the law allowed 15-year-olds to work as strippers.

By closing residential facilities, the Government was failing young people, he said.

The girl's father said he had had "suspicions" for about six weeks but his fears were confirmed when his youngest daughter saw her sister on the catwalk.

"I'm probably the same as most fathers - I don't want to walk into a bar and see my daughter with no clothes on."

Police picked the girl up from the strip joint on Sunday night.

The father said he blamed the club owner but was also angry at CYF.

"They have custody of my daughter, it's a care and protection order, and they're not caring for and protecting her," he said.

"She skipped their house 10 days ago and basically they've made very little attempt to find her."

He said he had told CYF where his daughter was and had taken her home twice.

"But as soon as we're asleep she's gone, back to the same environment.

"This afternoon ... I took her back to CYF so they could place her in a secure home. Just 10 minutes later they ring me back to say she's no longer there."

CYF's general manager, Vernon Smith, said the situation was complex but CYF would continue to work closely with the police and the girl's family to resolve the issues .

"CYF cannot as a matter of course lock young people away but it accepts responsibility to gain the trust of young people, to make a connection with them - and to put adults around them who can supervise and care for them."

Inspector Brian McGurk, Nelson Bays area controller, told Holmes that police were doing everything the law allowed them to do.

"We've picked up this young girl lots of times, this latest example is just a classic example of us working closely with our partner agencies looking after this girl's interests," he said.

The girl was in the temporary care of CYF and was not subject to residential conditions.

Putting her in residential care would not achieve "long-term solutions".

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:31 AM

Posted Image
Russ Ballard

New acting chief for Child, Youth and Family


Retired Land Information chief executive Russ Ballard has been named acting chief executive of the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services.

CYF has been without a chief executive since the resignation of Jackie Pivac last month.

Ms Pivac resigned, saying she believed there were three to five year of intensive change ahead of the department, and it was right to let someone else lead the department.

Brenda Pilott, CYF's general manager policy, has been acting as chief executive since Ms Pivac's resignation.

Announcing Dr Ballard's appointment today, State Services Commissioner, Michael Wintringham said he appreciated Ms Pilott stepping in and managing the organisation in difficult circumstances.

"Having reflected on the challenges facing CYF, and with the decision of Ms Pilott to leave the organisation (to join the Public Service Association), I have decided to appoint a very experienced former chief executive to provide the necessary leadership to the department until the new chief executive takes up the role," Mr Wintringham said in a statement.

Dr Ballard retired as the chief executive of Land Information New Zealand in June. He had been a public service chief executive for more than 15 years, and had headed the Ministry of Forestry, the Department of Education and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Dr Ballard will take up the acting position from January 5.

Mr Wintringham said the CYF job would be advertised tomorrow. He said chief executive level recruitment normally took at least four to six months

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:34 AM

Posted Image
Tamati Pokaia

Heat goes on CYF after Tamati case


Child, Youth and Family is facing a raft of criticisms over its handling of 3-year-old Tamati Pokaia, beaten to death by his foster father, Michael Waterhouse.

The department is accused of not working hard enough to return children to their biological parents and of not looking at other members of the natural family as a first option when considering foster placement.

Act social welfare spokeswoman Dr Muriel Newman said a trend was developing where children were being removed from their families and shifted around several foster homes, when members of the extended family were willing to care for them.

CYF took Tamati Pokaia and his two brothers from their parents in 1999 and placed them in foster care, even though other family members offered to look after the boys and their parents were completing the required course to get them back.

When Tamati died at the hands of Waterhouse in April last year he had been away from his parents for two years and was in his fourth foster home.

Dr Newman said the little boy's death was yet another reminder of CYF's inadequate procedures.

"While part of CYF's role is to remove children from the family home where there are safety concerns, an equally large part of the job is to ensure they can return to the biological family when appropriate.

"Leaving them in care for longer than necessary is not only unprofessional, but cruel."

National welfare spokeswoman Katherine Rich said the story of Tamati's four foster homes was not an isolated case. As of July there had been 77 children under 3 who had been in three or more foster homes within a year.

"When CYF makes the ultimate decision to remove children from their biological parents they should be making damn sure they're going to a better home."

When Waterhouse was convicted of manslaughter on Wednesday CYF acting chief executive Brenda Pilott said the department was reviewing Tamati's case and considering whether any procedures needed to be changed.

Tamati's grandfather, Eru Pokaia, said CYF had had long enough and he wanted answers now.

CYF senior legal adviser Stu Bartlett said the review had taken this long because of the court case. It was not policy to release the findings of internal investigations until criminal proceedings had been completed.

"Mr Waterhouse is being sentenced on December 17 and we anticipate that, all things being equal, our review will be released before Christmas."

Mr Pokaia said he wanted to hold a meeting for families who had lost a child when CYF was involved in their care.

Tamati's death has also prompted Auckland mother Tracie Martin into action.

She is planning a national rally, to be held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch next year, based on the idea that "every adult is in charge of every child".

#6 Guest_NoRehab_*

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:37 AM

Posted Image
Saliel Aplin (left) and Olympia Jetson

Murdered girls' mother prepares to sue CYF


The mother of Masterton murder victims Saliel and Olympia Aplin plans to sue the Government department that failed her daughters.

Charlene Aplin is also returning the letter of apology Child, Youth and Family sent her this week. Its own inquiry found its staff did not do their jobs properly and committed serious policy breaches.

Mrs Aplin went into hiding this week before the reports criticising the agency's handling of her daughters were made public.

She did so on legal advice that she should not comment before filing civil proceedings.

Marlene Gaskin, the social worker who dealt with Saliel, 12, and Olympia, 11, has also gone to ground.

Mrs Gaskin and her supervisor, Piri Tetau, were disciplined by their employer, although CYF refuses to say what action it took, and both have resigned.

Mr Tetau left some time ago and now works for the Rangitane tribal organisation in Masterton.

A Rangitane spokeswoman, Lisa Mulitalo, said he was consulting his family and marae elders about whether he could speak publicly.

"You have to understand he's had a tough time and this report coming out has been very painful," Ms Mulitalo said.

Mrs Gaskin, who wrote the letter to Charlene which Howse opened before killing the girls, is believed to have left the Wairarapa.

The letter requested an urgent meeting to discuss "new information" in relation to Olympia.

A woman at Mrs Gaskin's former home in Carterton refused to say how to contact her.

Masterton Mayor Bob Francis said too much blame had been heaped on the two CYF staff in the reports released this week by Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro and the department's internal inquiry.

Mr Francis said not enough attention had been paid to the fact that CYF removed a senior manager from its Masterton office early in 2001, before the girls were murdered in their home by stepfather Bruce Howse.

Mr Francis said he wrote to the CYF chief executive, Jackie Brown, to express his concern about the removal of the manager and the fact that the overseeing of the office was going to be done from Wellington.

"It's interesting that since that case and following further discussions, they have now put a more senior manager here," he said.

Mr Francis also felt other members of the girls' extended family had been "let off lightly" in both reports.

"There was wider knowledge of what was going on. These reports in the media are certainly attaching blame but I don't think the blame lies entirely with Child Youth and Family.

"The extended family and the community, neighbours, I think everyone's got a responsibility."

The victims' grandfather, Alan Aplin, said the two CYF workers had been made "scapegoats" for a failure in the department's systems but he did not accept his family should be blamed.

"You can only do so much."

Mr Aplin said the Family Court ruled that the girls, who had been in his custody, should be returned to their mother and her de facto husband, Howse.

Whenever he went near the home Howse would become upset and he stayed away to keep the peace rather than have Howse take it out on Charlene and her children.

He said at one stage Howse accused him of molesting his granddaughters and he insisted that they immediately see a doctor who, he said, found no evidence of that.

Mr Aplin confirmed the letter of apology was to be returned because Charlene felt it was "worth nothing".

Opposition social services spokeswoman Katherine Rich said that while bad errors were made by the department and Charlene Aplin was entitled to got to court, "she's also going have to deal with Child Youth and Family coming back and arguing her role, the role of the family and the role of every other person who let those girls live in such a violent environment".

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:38 AM

Police admit training flaws

By ANGELA GREGORY social issues reporter

Police accept they need to do a better job of assessing whether children are at risk on domestic violence callouts.

Police attitudes to violence in the home have been criticised after reports this week on the murders of Masterton sisters Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson.

It was noted the police had visited the home of the girls' stepfather, Bruce Howse, 18 times over six years.

Brian Gardner, national manager of the National Network of Stopping Violence Services, said yesterday he was concerned the police did not intervene soon enough.

"Not once did police tell social workers about the girls' exposure to violence, and the police even commented that that number of domestic violence calls was not extensive or significant."

The police said there needed to be at least three calls to the same address within a year to consider it a high risk, he said.

"The girls' deaths show that this is setting the bar far too high."

Mr Gardner said men such as Howse got the wrong message when police attended call-outs but no action was taken.

"Howse was rarely held accountable for the domestic violence."

Mr Gardner said police played a vital role in keeping women and children safe from men's violence and abuse, but that wasn't being fully recognised.

"Instead, too often women and children are held responsible for keeping the peace. They are walking on egg shells to try and keep themselves safe," he said.

Mr Gardner said police spent only one day focusing on domestic violence out of an initial 18 weeks of training, and little if any in-service training addressed men's violence and abuse to women and children.

A Women's Refuge worker recently told the Herald that although police were generally helpful she had at times been startled and dismayed to hear officers comment that the women they brought in were so lippy they felt like hitting them too.

The police national manager of youth services, Steve Christian, accepted that more training was needed to raise understanding of domestic violence.

Police were already learning how to assess risks to children in domestic violence cases and report them back to Child, Youth and Family.

Mr Christian said the visits to the Aplin home were spread over six years and not all involved violence. Just one had involved the children - in 1997, when one of the girls was struck with a mop.

Under the current family violence policy, 12 of the incidents were referred to the Women's Refuge, he said.

Mr Christian said police were working nationally and at a district level to improve their risk assessments in domestic violence call-outs.

They were already seeing increased reporting of incidents and more robust actions being taken, such as charges being laid.

The Commissioner for Children, Dr Cindy Kiro, said in her report that the police did not have all the information about the extent of the violence in the house.

"They responded appropriately when they were called."

Dr Kiro said the family and the wider community had also commented very favourably on the police response and support after the murders of the children.

Women's Refuge national co-ordinator Roma Balzer said that about a decade ago the police took affirmative action on domestic violence issues - more so than other Government departments.

"They did some inspirational work with responsive communities and supported by good legislation after the introduction of the Domestic Violence Act."

But Ms Balzer said there had been a slackening-off.

"What we need is an independent agency to gather and co-ordinate domestic violence information, undertake risk assessments, identify high-risk families, monitor the practices of those in the domestic violence area and maintain an emphasis on safety for battered women, and their children, and accountability for men who choose to batter."

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:39 AM

Supervision needed for long-term CYF cases, says Dyson


Child, Youth and Family workers who deal with some families for long periods should have supervision and support, CYF Minister Ruth Dyson said yesterday.

CYF and the Commissioner for Children have released reports into how Masterton half-sisters Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson were dealt with by agencies before they were murdered by their stepfather.

The agencies came in for harsh criticism. Both reports found the social worker on the case was over-familiar with the family and CYF processes and procedures were not followed.

Ms Dyson said the reports repeated warnings that had already been given in cases such as that of James Whakaruru, but it was clear those messages were not being heeded by some CYF staff.

"We need to have much stronger leadership - and I certainly hope that we are providing that from central government and within our entire departmental structure - to say that we have policies and procedures in place. It is not an option, it is mandatory. They must be implemented," Ms Dyson said.

The Aplin family case had been worked on by a social worker for some time and the person became very familiar with the circumstances, "and therefore did not perhaps react as a newer person would have", Ms Dyson said.

"Obviously the need for more peer support and supervision is needed in those cases where an individual social worker is dealing with a family over a very long period of time."

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:41 AM

Sisters murdered after years of violence


Timeline of events prior to the deaths of Masterton half-sisters Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson, outlined in today's report into their care by the Office of the Commissioner for Children.

* Feb 13, 1989 -- Saliel Jalessa April born, second child of Charlene Aplin.

* Nov 6, 1990 -- Olympia Marisa Jetson born. A brother was born in April 1992 and another sister in July 1993.

* 1992 -- Charlene Aplin applies for non-violence order and spends time in a women's refuge.

* 1993 -- Charlene Aplin reconciles with her husband, but after further domestic violence and court involvement the marriage ends.

At the end of the year Charlene Aplin contacts police, concerned the girls may have been suffering from sexual abuse. Evidence was inconclusive, and the girls received counselling.

* 1994 -- Saliel and Olympia's elder sister repeats sexual abuse allegations. Police are once more called, but no evidence is found.

Counselling continues.

Soon after Charlene Aplin begins a relationship with Bruce Howse.

In March 1994 Charlene Aplin contacts CYF and police after a dispute between herself and Howse. It is alleged Olympia and Saliel had suffered injuries inflicted by Howse. In an April interview with CYF the children report physical abuse by Howse.

By the middle of May 1994, all Charlene's children are removed and placed with her parents. By the end of the year she reports to CYF she is concerned her parents are not caring adequately for her children.

* 1996 -- On August 1 the court rules Saliel and Olympia and their brother can return to live with their mother and Howse.

In November 1996 their elder sister returns to live with them, and by Christmas Howse's five children were also living with them.

* 1997 -- In April Charlene Aplin takes legal steps to protect herself from Howse, but soon after the couple reconcile.

* 1999 -- On October 4, Charlene Aplin and Howse have a daughter. Domestic violence is reported to the authorities on several occasions, and eventually Charlene Aplin leaves Howse and takes all the children to her parents' home.

* 2000 -- After living with her parents for six months, Charlene Aplin moves the family to Ashhurst. Howse attempts to take the baby from the house and police are called. A separate violent incident sees police called. The family move to Woodville briefly, before returning to Masterton. Soon after returning to Masterton, Charlene Aplin reconciles with Howse.

By the end of September 2000, Howse leaves home after a violent incident. Soon after he returns home and abducts the baby. Charlene Aplin retrieves the child and further fights ensue, before another reconciliation.

* 2001 -- Charlene Aplin is pregnant again. She and Howse briefly separate, but reconcile. The pregnancy is not easy, and Olympia and Saliel are often left in the care of Howse and their elder sister while their mother spends time in hospital. A baby girl is born in July.

On August 3 2001, Olympia's school contacts Charlene Aplin to say Olympia has made an accusation of sexual abuse. By the following Monday she has withdrawn the accusation. In September the eldest Aplin girl leaves home, as does Howse's son.

On November 20 a fight erupts between Howse and Charlene Aplin. The police are called and Howse is taken to his son's address. He phones Charlene Aplin several times that night threatening to "kill them all". He returns to the home the next day and is asked to leave permanently. Howse says Charlene Aplin has no legal right to keep him out of the home.

On December 1, Saliel has an argument with Howse, and tells him she is "going to nark on him".

On December 3, Saliel and Olympia are stabbed, each receiving a single knife wound. They die early on December 4, having bled to death.

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:43 AM

Posted Image

CYF responds to recommendations made by the Chief Social Worker and the Commissioner for Children


This plan lists the 8 findings made by the Chief Social Worker and the 11 recommendations made by the Commissioner for Children. Actions already taken, underway or planned are provided in response to each of the recommendations.

1. CAT/SAT protocol

Chief Social Worker finding: It is my view that the failure to follow the SAT Protocol on 3 August 2001 and 3 September 2001 were serious breaches of departmental policy.

Commissioner recommendation: Direct Practice and Site Managers to meet with Area Controllers from the Police to review their application of the CAT/SAT Protocol.


General: The CAT/SAT protocol has been in place for some years. In April 2003, the protocol was reviewed and re-issued to all staff. On 18 July 2003, the Chief Executive and Police Commissioner issued a joint message to all of their staff. The leaders of both organisations jointly committed to ensuring there are formal local agreements between Police and Child, Youth and Family and that each agency is clear about their own responsibilities and the processes that must be followed. Service Delivery Unit Managers and District Commanders were then contacted and local agreements signed. Learning and Development staff have worked with Police to review and redesign training to reflect the revised protocols. The revised training - a complete update and rewrite - was jointly developed and is jointly delivered, thus mirroring the need for close interagency relationships at all levels. The training is currently being rolled out to all Police and Child, Youth and Family staff and will have been delivered to all by June 2004.

Masterton: The relationship between the Service Delivery Unit Manager and the Police Area Controller is excellent and this is reflected through the staff of both organisations. The Practice Manager and Service Delivery Unit Manager in Masterton have signed off the local agreement and will monitor compliance with the protocol. Masterton staff have attended the revised training.

2. Policy and Procedures relating to investigation and assessment

Chief Social Worker findings:

It is my view that the Call Centre, when taking the 3 August 2001 information on two children, ought to have specified this as two separate notifications but they were rolled together. Masterton site staff had the opportunity to correct this by altering the electronic record on receipt but did not.

It is my view that the information received on 3 September 2001 should have been entered onto the case recording system as a new notification. If this had been done, there would have been an open case that would have required a considered decision by the social worker and supervisor, and reference to the Care and Protection Resource Panel, before closure of the case.

It is my view that consultation with the Practice Manager should have occurred.

It is my view that the social worker and supervisor should have considered applying the Risk Estimation System (RES) to ascertain the level of risk that remained after the retraction was made. They did not.

The social worker needed to investigate the new information. She made a judgement to contact Charlene Aplin by letter. It is my view that this letter, worded as it was, should not have been sent. Commissioner recommendation:

Restate to social work staff departmental policy and procedures relating to the investigation and assessment of child protection notifications, with particular emphasis on Risk Estimation Tools, CAT/SAT protocol and referrals to the Care and Protection Resource Panels.



On 17 June, the Chief Executive issued a message to all staff, reminding them of their obligations to follow clearly defined processes and policies. This message highlighted the importance of the CAT/SAT protocol. In addition, the Commissioner has drawn attention to the importance of the relationship with Care and Protection Resource Panels. This has been the subject of a best practice video, issued to all Service Delivery Units and Panels, which demonstrates the way in which Panels act as a constructive and critical advisory forum for the management of cases. The annual reports of all Panels are closely monitored and supervisors review the role of the Panel in individual cases. Nationally, usage of the Risk Estimation System (RES) has been given a strong focus and staff have been reminded that the use of the RES tool, or a record of why a particular case is exempt, is mandatory. There has been a significant increase in recorded use of RES and this is currently at 80 per cent nationally (100 per cent in Masterton). Learning and Development staff have developed a training package, in conjunction with SAFE and STOP, called 'The Dynamics of Sexual Abuse'. Delivered jointly with staff from SAFE and STOP, this training - of two and half days duration - started to roll out in the past two months and, within the next 9 to 12 months, will have been offered to all staff as part of the department's national training curriculum. As well as being delivered separately, training in the revised CAT/SAT protocols is included in induction training and in the orientation kit. They also feature in training in Investigation and Assessment and are incorporated into the RES training, thus ensuring maximum staff awareness and the criticality of application. Additional RES training is currently being offered to all regions, targeting supervisors, practice managers and senior practitioners. Relevant amendments to CYRAS training have been noted and incorporated. The policy covering domestic violence - notifications, role of each agency, processes for forwarding information, CYF response - is being reviewed under the auspices of the family violence strategy, Te Rito. Policy has been developed and issued on when information received during the course of an investigation or when working with a family constitutes 'new' information and should be entered onto CYRAS as a new notification. This information has been issued, in the Call Centre handbook, where detailed flowcharts and guidelines are available. These changes have been incorporated into the department's national induction training programme. This will be extended to cover a policy reminder to social workers to include all at-risk siblings in notifications. The Chief Social Worker has worked to strengthen the role of Practice Managers as leaders of best practice. She and her advisors meet regularly with the Practice Manager group in each of the six regions. They provide support and practice advice to that group of managers. They send practice information to the group very regularly. The whole Practice Manager group meet twice each year with the Chief Social Worker and her staff, to discuss practice and enhance their ability to lead best practice.


The Masterton Care and Protection Resource Panel has 12 members who represent the following: Mental Health
Open Home Foundation
Local GP
Local solicitor
Special Education Service
Youth Worker
Eketahuna representative
Women's Refuge
School Principal

The Masterton Panel meets fortnightly. If required, telephone consultations take place in between meetings. There is an excellent relationship between members of that Panel and the Masterton social workers.

3. Compliance

Commissioner recommendation: Include compliance with policy as a performance measure in individual social worker performance objectives.


General: The current performance management system for social workers takes account of compliance with policies and procedures.

4. Training in family violence and protecting children

Chief Social Worker finding: It is my view that there was a lack of rigour applied to the decisions made in the most recent contacts in this case and that this may have arisen from the long, familiar relationship between the family and those who were involved with them. The normal checks and balances of the care and protection system, all of which need to be triggered by a social worker and considered by a supervisor, did not operate effectively in this case.

Commissioner recommendation: Ensure that departmental social work staff receive ongoing training in family violence and methods of intervening to protect children.


General: The department has given a focus to supporting and upskilling social workers through clinical supervision training, delivered by Massey University, available to all supervisors. This training has been very well received. Learning and Development staff are now developing training for supervisees, to ensure social workers make the best use possible of supervision. Discussions are taking place with tertiary institutions, to have a Masterate or PhD student undertake research on the issue of familiarity. A two day training programme in Family Violence has been incorporated into the national social work induction training. This is mandatory for all newly appointed social workers. This programme is also offered outside of induction as resources permit.

5. Training in interviewing, listening and responded to children and young people

Commissioner recommendation: Ensure social work staff receive training which enables them to interview, listen and respond to children and young people.


General: A range of training has been developed, including programmes that assist social work staff in interviewing, listening and responding to children and young people.

Masterton: The staff at the Masterton site meet fortnightly to have in-service training sessions. Recently this was on the subject of talking with children. This is a popular and effective means of on-going training and upskilling.

6. Senior management

Commissioner recommendation: Review how the department's delivery function is represented at senior management level to ensure that the experience of practitioners is appropriately considered.


General: Two of the seven members of the Strategic Management Team are social workers. Their presence ensures a strong practice voice is heard. The Chief Social Worker's role is to audit the quality of practice within the department and is, therefore, a particularly influential voice. Eight of the twelve members of the department's Operational Management Team are experienced social workers. Eleven of the twelve third-tier managers of frontline services are experienced social workers.

7. Community liaison function

Commissioner recommendation: Consider an increase in the numbers of Community Liaison social work positions or the adoption of a model where social workers have responsibility for a geographical area.


General: Community Liaison social work positions were established in 1995, as part of the department's response to changes to the CYPF Act. At that time, the government had decided not to legislate for mandatory reporting. Rather, the Chief Executive would be required to provide information to the general public and to particular professional groups, on the importance of recognising and reporting child abuse and neglect. Community Liaison social workers began visiting schools and community groups in New Zealand, promoting the need to report abuse and to work together to prevent abuse. These positions have been added to by other initiatives now underway. SDU managers have been appointed and a key part of their role is relationship management, encouraging community participation and interagency cooperation. The department's priority has been on employing social workers who work directly with clients, rather than filling these liaison roles. In particular, the Rise Above It campaign (in Masterton) and the Everyday Communities (in six parts of the country) work have replaced the work of the individual community liaison social worker. Now, Child, Youth and Family works with a range of community leaders to get the same messages across to communities, but in a different way.

Masterton: This is a site which does still have access to a community liaison social worker, covering Wellington/Masterton and Dannevirke areas. This position works very well for Masterton.

8. Workload management

Commissioner recommendation: Develop and implement an effective workload management tool.


General: A project to design a workload management system was commenced in early 2003 and is expected to be completed by June 2004. Implementation will commence in July 2004.

Masterton: In Masterton, social workers have, on average, about 20 cases each. (This is 20 families, not 20 individuals.) Caseloads in Masterton are now - and have been - manageable. There will, of course, be varied numbers at different times as caseloads fluctuate. When case numbers are high, supervisors can ask other supervisors for staff to assist, as required. The workloads are managed by supervisors. It is the supervisors' responsibility to decide how many cases each social worker should have and to allocate accordingly.

9. Roopu teams

Commissioner recommendation: Review the effectiveness of Roopu teams and the resourcing, training and professional support for these teams.


General: This recommendation is not accepted and will not be actioned. There is no reason to believe that Roopu teams are resourced and supported in any way different from non-Roopu teams.

Masterton: In Masterton, there is a team of social workers who take all of the Maori cases, although they themselves are not all Maori. Caseload numbers in that team are relatively similar to those of other teams ie average about 20 cases each. When there is a time of high demand, the whole office works together, as a team, to meet the challenges.

10. Seeking the views of clients

Commissioner recommendation: Direct that case reviews in future consider the views of clients (including the views of children) to assess the effectiveness of departmental intervention.


General: A practice session on this subject, called 'Voices of Children', was held at the supervisors/practice managers professional workshop in July 2003. The Commissioner for Children has planned to meet with senior managers from Child, Youth and Family, in December, to review the current ways in which she carries out her role of monitoring the department. This will include discussion of the current protocol for the review of cases.

Masterton: The 'Voices of Children' session was delivered to staff in the Wellington region and Masterton staff attended that delivery.

11. Social workers in schools

Commissioner recommendation: Discuss the extension of the Social Workers in Schools Programme with the Secretary of Education.


General: Discussions held with Social Services, Education and Health Ministers. Extension of the programme is currently inhibited by social work workforce supply shortages. These issues are being considered by a sector-wide Workforce Development Group as part of the MSD-led Care and Protection Blueprint which is due to report back to Ministers in November 2003. The Department has contracted an additional Social Workers in Schools position in Masterton.

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:48 AM

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Coral Burrows

Report on Burrows' call to CYF released


Child, Youth and Family call centre staff are to be more closely supervised and their training revised after a phone call from the father of murdered Featherston girl Coral Burrows was not treated as a child abuse notification when it should have been, a critical report says.

Child, Youth and Family (CYF) today issued the findings of an inquiry by Ailsa Duffy QC into the handling of the phone call from Ron Burrows to the department on January 21.

CYF initially denied the call, but then acknowledged it had received the call.

Mr Burrows made the call after becoming concerned about the care being given Coral and his eight-year-old son Storm, while they lived with their mother Jeanna Cremen and her partner Steven Williams.

Eight months later, Williams beat Coral to death after she refused to get out of the car and go to school, and dumped her body in scrub near Lake Onoke (Ferry), around 30km from Featherston.

The report found the call was dealt with by a social worker who should have treated it as a notification of child abuse but did not.

The department needed to develop clearer policy around what constituted a notification.

The Department's orientation and induction of social workers into its call centre was found wanting and mandatory policies regarding clinical supervision were not adhered to in the call centre.

Ms Duffy found supervision in the call centre did not occur in respect of decisions about notifications.

Acting Chief Executive Brenda Pilott said today the department accepted Ms Duffy's conclusions and it had apologised to Mr Burrows for its response to his telephone call and not treating the information he provided as a notification.

She said where possible the department would make immediate changes to its operations in response to the concerns raised.

"The overarching objective we want to achieve is to improve the provision of professional support systems in the call centre to make sure that our social workers have the resources they need to do their work well," Ms Pilott said in a statement.

Ms Pilott said no blame could be attributed to the particular social worker identified in the report, despite the person failing to make a notification or even adequate notes relating to the call in which Mr Burrows told the social worker six-year-old Coral was regularly soiling her pants and her eight-year-old brother Storm acting aggressively and had punched a hole in a wall.

Ms Pilott said work had already begun clarifying policy around the identification and treatment of notifications. Work on the policy was being carried out as part of a baseline review expected to be completed in 2004.

However, she said CYF would put in place interim improved procedures by February 2004 and final arrangements would be in place by December 2004.

A review of training and orientation processes at the call centre was already under way and the level of support for all new social workers joining the call centre in the future would be intensified, she said.

In relation to supervision, Ms Pilott said supervisors would review calls on a weekly basis to see if they should be treated as notifications or not until final decisions were made about the centre's recording practices.

She said CYF was considering the report's recommendation to record all incoming calls and would make a decision by March 2004.

The report follows two critical reports last month into CYF's treatment of Masterton sisters Saliel Aplin, 12, and Olympia Jetson, 11, who were murdered by their stepfather Bruce Howse in December 2001.

The reports, by CYF and the Office of the Commissioner of Children found some workers had not done their jobs properly and department processes and procedures had not been followed.

The department has since said it is seeking an extra 90 social workers.

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 12:46 PM

Turner: CYFS a 'dysfunctional monster'
Thursday, 18 December 2003, 12:32 pm
Press Release: United Future NZ Party

Turner: CYFS a 'dysfunctional monster'

United Future's Judy Turner today labelled CYFS a "dysfunctional monster", with child death after child death being laid at its door.

"And the other tragedy of it is that beside this stream of child deaths, there are some very fine and able people within CYFS who are working very hard. But they are hugely stressed and working in an organisation that is so obviously dysfunctional," she said.

Yesterday was another bad news day for CYFS, with one of its foster parents jailed for 10 years for killing three-year-old Tamati Pokaia in a fury over popcorn, and a CYFS report admitting its failure in the case of 12-year-old Kelly Gush, who was kicked to death by her step-father.

"CYFS doesn't fulfil its most basic task - protecting children at risk - and one has to ask whether in its current situation, it possibly can," Mrs Turner, United Future's health spokeswoman, said.

"They too often get it wrong. And when it comes to children's lives, this level of failure cannot be accepted."

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 01:54 PM

Govt accused of totalitarianism

Dec 17, 2003

The National and ACT parties are blasting the government for dumping a multitude of documents on the failure of Child Youth and Family (CYF) while it is also presenting its policy on the seabed and foreshore.

National said the government should be ashamed for its cynically timed release of the papers on a busy news day.

CYF has released reports on its dealings with three children who were in troubled circumstances. All three children - Kelly Gush, Tamati Pokaia and Coral Burrows - died at the hands of their caregivers.

ACT said the move is an absolute disgrace and is a tactic more likely to be found in totalitarian states.

The party's social welfare spokesperson, Muriel Newman, said the release of the CYF documents highlights Labour's utter disdain for the parliamentary process.

And National Party welfare spokesperson Katherine Rich accused CYF of once again denying the children justice.

"It's bad enough that in each of these tragedies there were enough questions to justify demands for a proper inquiry - but now the department's delivering one last insult to these children," Rich said.,...644-1-8,00.html

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 08:44 AM

Father says CYF left his children in gang house


Child, Youth and Family waited six days before intervening to help two children who were forced to live in the same house as men who had allegedly gang-raped their mother.

The children's Christchurch-based father begged the agency to "get the children out" of the South Auckland gang house in which they were living but CYF left both - a 13-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy - in the house for six days.

The mother and her children were found by police on Wednesday night after disappearing earlier in the day, sparking fears of foul play.

Their father, who cannot be named to protect the children's identity, is angry about authorities' response to concerns he expressed last Friday.

He said the six days it took to get his children help could have cost their lives.

His children were caught in a "morphine-fuelled" world with gang affiliates and drug dealers, he said.

"It's disgusting. It makes me sick."

On Friday, the man approached CYF in Christchurch.

He was told by a staff member nothing could be done for the children "because of the weekend".

Frustrated, he phoned CYF in Auckland pleading for the children's speedy removal.

The children remained at the home, and neither they nor their mother were contacted by CYF until Tuesday afternoon.

A CYF spokeswoman said the children's case was not deemed to be critical.

It was classified as "urgent - the second lowest priority classification which can be made. This meant staff had up to seven days to respond".

The CYF general manager of social work and community services, Ken Rand, said the agency was satisfied with the initial "seven-day" assessment.

"The family has now been located and a full assessment is currently being carried out."

The father said CYF staff abused him when he drew parallels between his children and Coral Burrows.

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 08:53 AM

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Ron Burrows wants an apology from the social worker he talked to over worries about his two children. Pic / Bay Of Plenty Times

Social worker a liar says Coral's father


Ron Burrows has called for the resignation of the social worker who ignored his call for help months before his daughter Coral was murdered.

Child, Youth and Family apologised to Mr Burrows two days ago for the failure in its systems that led to the call he made to the national call centre in Auckland not being actioned - or even logged - nine months before 6-year-old Coral-Ellen Burrows was murdered by her stepfather, Steve Williams.

But the department has refused to identify the social worker or allow her to be interviewed, saying it was its system that was at fault, not the individual.

It is not clear whether it will follow all the recommendations that an inquiry by QC Ailsa Duffy said were needed to prevent such an event recurring.

Ms Duffy found the social worker was new to the job, had no formal training, her notes were inadequate and she was not properly supervised by a supervisor who also had no training in that role.

The worker, identified as "B" in the report, had a much lower rate of logging calls to the centre as worthy of follow-up than her colleagues at the time.

A social worker since 1988 but with the call centre only since December, "B" told Ms Duffy she could not remember the call and was sure she would have recommended a follow-up if Mr Burrows had reported even a third of things he claimed to have.

Ms Duffy made it clear she believed Mr Burrows.

Telephone records show the call was made on January 21 at 9.13am and lasted 21 minutes and 42 seconds.

Mr Burrows said he was concerned about Coral-Ellen, then aged 5, soiling her pants several times a day, something she had not previously done, and he was particularly concerned about extreme violence that Storm, 8, was exhibiting to other children.

He said "B" told him he risked losing access to his children if he pressed ahead with allegations that his children were threatened, so when the call ended he was under the impression the department could do nothing to help.

"B" was identified only after department management went through the notes made by social workers on duty at the call centre that day, where the words "Storm" and "5 yrs" were found.

During her inquiry Ms Duffy found a second call made to "B" that should have been logged for follow-up but was not.

She has warned that the same thing could happen again unless the department not only keeps records of every call to the centre that involves suggestions of children at risk, but also tapes them.

CYF acting chief executive Brenda Pilott said more staff would be used in the call centre and all calls referred to the social workers would be logged but a decision about whether to tape them would not be made until March.

Mr Burrows said he noticed the behaviour after Williams moved in with the family late last year.

Ms Duffy said the department had failed in its statutory obligations.

Mr Burrows said he hoped no one else suffered as a result of "B"'s failings. "She's obviously a liar ... She doesn't want to come out and say it. "I hope they've got her well supervised."

He had accepted Brenda Pilott's apology but said it was vital that all the recommendations of the inquiry were implemented.

#16 User is offline   twostickswalking 

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 10:48 PM

haven't you figured it out Ruth Dyson heading the most troubled departments
cyps and oh no ACC. and ass minister of social services . what will be done
probably nothing. read the report in the next two years, it will be a repeat, just
as this report was a repeat of the 2000 report. more tax payers money wasted
on admin matters.

Instead of the heart of the matter

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 08:28 AM

Children wait months for CYF attention
20 December 2003

A potential child abuse case supposed to be investigated by Child, Youth and Family (CYF) within seven days was still unallocated after 41 weeks.

The 2002-03 department of Child, Youth and Family financial review tabled in Parliament this week shows that, as of October 31, a case given "urgent" priority had not been investigated after almost 10 months.

More than 200 of the cases allocated a seven-day investigation time have not had a response after more than 20 weeks.

National MP Katherine Rich has called on the Government to initiate an urgent review of the waiting list.

She said 62 per cent of the 2142 urgent cases were not being attended to in the seven-day time-frame.

"This is further evidence that CYF are not coping with the large number of notifications. The table makes for very sorry reading," she said.

"It's clear that the evaluation process of how urgent a case is considered is ridiculous. I'm calling on the Minister to start an urgent pre-Christmas review of all the children who have been waiting more than 20 weeks. We need to know that these children will be safe and sound over Christmas."

CYF Minister Ruth Dyson said the time it was taking to attend to cases was unacceptable. However, strategies were now in place to deal with CYF's systemic problems and she would not begin a review.

"I feel confident that we have got strategies to deal with this (the problems). The cases are actively looked at all of the time they are waiting to be allocated. They are actively managed."

The recently completed baseline review of the agency addressed resourcing issues which were a factor in waiting times, Ms Dyson said.

In the past three months the department had a surge in notifications of potential abuse, due mainly to media coverage of the Coral Burrows case.

"There is a lot of negative terminology used in the agency and certainly in the new year I will be looking to try to make some changes there. Some of the terminology used is nonsense, like the category `low-urgent', and it does not relate well with the general public."

In total, there were 3078 unallocated CYF cases at the end of October.,21...15a6009,00.html

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 10:02 AM

'Wrong' test result used to take children away
21 December 2003

An Auckland woman had two children taken off her by social workers after a hospital laboratory performed the wrong test on her four-year-old son's urine and used the results as "proof" she drugged him, according to a top chemist.

The woman, who cannot be named, had four children removed from her care in the United Kingdom in 1996 after a court ruled that she suffered from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP) - a controversial diagnosis said to cause parents to induce or fabricate illnesses in their children to get attention.

British authorities alerted Child, Youth and Family (CYF) after the woman married a New Zealander, moved to Auckland and had two more children.

Social workers removed the pre-schoolers in August 2000 after routine tests - done when her four-year-old son was admitted to Starship children's hospital with bronchitis - revealed he had been given an adult sedative zopiclone.

The Family Court agreed and both parents lost custody. The children are now being cared for by family and, because the mother has declined to exercise her right to supervised access, she has not seen them for almost two years.

Former Auckland University analytical chemist Mike Fitzpatrick says the hospital laboratory, LabPlus, breached international standards by relying on a screening test, thin layer chromatography (TLC), and did not confirm its results with a more accurate test.

Fitzpatrick took zopiclone and a drug the boy had been prescribed for an ear infection, co-trimoxazole, and did a TLC test on his own urine. He found that the two drugs were "indistinguishable".

"I was staggered that they relied on TLC," Fitzpatrick said. "That wouldn't be good enough to test for dope in the horse racing industry, it wouldn't last three seconds in court and that mother has had her children taken off her on the basis of it."

The government-owned laboratory Environmental Science and Research (ESR) that does testing for criminal cases, but was not involved in this case, said it would normally use a higher level test known as gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and would be "very reluctant" to rely on TLC.

LabPLus did a GC-MS test but zopiclone was not detected. The laboratory's senior scientific specialist Ron Couch told the Family Court GC-MS could not detect zopiclone in urine but Fitzpatrick and ESR experts say that is wrong.

Fitzpatrick, who did not give evidence at the original hearing, prepared an extensive affidavit for a hearing at the High Court in mid-2001 that was a prelude to a possible appeal. However, the woman's lawyers submitted only a brief affidavit and Justice Penlington ruled that it was inadmissible because it should have been submitted to the Family Court. The appeal was dropped.

In a statement, Auckland District Health Board chief medical officer David Sage said any challenge to the LabPlus evidence should be made in the "normal legal forum".

The revelations come amid growing disquiet about the validity of the MSBP diagnosis. The founder of the theory, Sir Roy Meadow, 70, faces being struck off over his evidence in three high-profile cases involving British women who were subsequently cleared of charges of murdering their babies.

Sally Clark, 39, was released in January this year after serving almost three years in jail for the murder of her two children. Trupti Patel, 35, was acquitted of smothering her three babies earlier this year and Angela Cannings, 40 - sentenced to life for killing her two children - was released this month.

Dr David Southall, the British paediatrician who diagnosed the Auckland woman, faces three charges of serious misconduct. The disciplinary process is private, but it is understood the General Medical Council has agreed to consider complaints against Southall from the Auckland woman and Sally Clark's husband.

The British opposition spokesman on health, Lord Frederick Howe, said the woman's case was a "gross miscarriage of justice and there is no sound reason whatsoever to justify the removal of her children.",00.html

#19 User is offline   accvictim 

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Posted 20 January 2004 - 11:58 PM

Well Through a wrongful decision from some trumped up ACC asslicking
manager back in 1993 (I will Post His Name up soon) I lost my house/home
I owned in Auckland followed by my partner and my young son leaving me
because of the stress of the constant litigation with ACC and for my moods
of not having any treatment for my injury from these negligent bastards.
The case was overturned in my favour as it was flamin obvious it was an industrial
injury,, well I havn`t seen my son since 1994 he was seven at the time.
Been though all that family court crap as well, and in those days was never in favour of a male person which I am,, and might I add not a very friendly one
anymore, because all this has altered my mind.

All I can say is I`ll dedicate whats left of my life to bring down this corrupt scum.

Ex Hard Worker never been on a benefit or ACC before this.

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Posted 04 February 2004 - 11:14 AM

This was reported in the DominionPost 3rd Feb 2004

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