Select Committee reports back on Vulnerable Children Bill

Wed 26 Mar 2014

The Social Services Select Committee has reported back on the Vulnerable Children Bill. The Committee recommends by majority that the Bill be ...

The Social Services Select Committee has reported back on the Vulnerable Children Bill. The Committee recommends by majority that the Bill be passed with amendments. Read the Select Committee's report.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says she is supporting some modifications to the Bill, including:

  • More detail of the roles and professions where safety checking of paid children’s workers will be required.
  • A further 18 offences – relating to serious violent and sexual offending and objectionable material – to be added to the serious convictions that would prevent a person from working alone with or having responsibility for children in their job.
  • Changes that maintain employees’ rights without compromising the safety of children by providing a five day suspension period for concerns to be addressed between an employer and a convicted person before termination can occur.

The Green Party minority view said it "agrees with some provisions in this bill, but will not support it further. We appreciate that the Government is attempting to improve the safety of children. Some of the provisions in this bill assist towards this goal. However, the bill and the resources required to implement it will not be effective if the Government continues to neglect the issues of child poverty and family violence, which increase the risk to children. We consider that the Government should, at the same time, be implementing specific child poverty reduction measures and policy initiatives that directly target family violence as a core driver of increased risk to children."

The Greens also expressed serious concern about the provisions that increase the powers of the state to remove children from their mothers at birth, saying, "The single most critical factor in how children survive exposure to domestic violence is the presence of at least one loving and supportive adult in their life. For many children the loving and supportive adult is their mother, who repeatedly does her best to provide her children a normal life even where she is being abused. Currently the child abuse system does not consistently acknowledge the importance of the protective parent. We too often hear of women losing their children for the failure to protect the child from the abuser, even post-separation. This risks depriving the child of both parents and of increasing the negative effect of exposure to domestic violence on the child. We believe a child-centred approach would acknowledge the role of the protective parent and seek to enhance this relationship."

Paula Bennett previosuloy announced the proposed 'Child Harm Prevention Orders' will not be implemented.


Bill to include further 18 offences, Radio NZ, 26.03.14

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