Government establishes panel to lead "major overhaul" of Child, Youth and Family

Thu 02 Apr 2015

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has announced the establishment of a panel to lead a "complete overhaul" of Child, Youth and Family (CYF). The ...

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has announced the establishment of a panel to lead a "complete overhaul" of Child, Youth and Family (CYF).

The panel, led by Paula Rebstock, will "oversee the development and implementation of a new operating model to modernise CYF, enhance its governance and assurance, and will have a wide-ranging brief to consider all aspects of CYF operations."

The terms of reference for the panel and the Cabinet paper establishing the panel are available on the Ministry of Social Development website. The panel members are:

  • Paula Rebstock (Chair)
  • Police Commissioner Mike Bush
  • Duncan Dunlop
  • Helen Leahy
  • Professor Richie Poulton

Anne Tolley said,

"In recent years, reports on various aspects of CYF operations have highlighted issues such as the need for a child-centred approach, areas for improving structures to support practice, and social worker caseloads where there was a lack of clarity around core business."

"CYF has drafted its own internal modernisation strategy, and while it is a good starting point it doesn’t go far enough."

"The independent expert panel will not be tinkering around the edges and small-scale changes are unlikely to produce the results we all want to see."

The panel will provide a high level business case to the Minister by 30 July 2015, with a detailed business case to follow by December 2015.

Reports on CYF referred to in the Cabinet paper are:

Office of the Chief Social Worker (2014). Workload and case work review: qualitative review of social worker caseload, casework and workload management.

Broad, H. (2013). Review of Child, Youth and Family complaints system: report to the Minister of Social Development.

Smith, M. (2011). Report to Hon Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Development and Employment: following an inquiry into the serious abuse of a nine year old girl and other matters relating to the welfare, safety and protection of children in New Zealand

Concerns about the review

In response to the announcement, Re-Imagining Social Work (RSW) has established a website to "discuss, debate and deliberate on the future of modern and progressive social work services in Aotearoa New Zealand." RSW is a volunteer collective of social workers, social work academics, researchers and others. They state:

"The review is to be led by an 'independent' panel of 'experts'. Experts who do not include a single child protection practitioner, manager, academic or researcher. The CYF review is not about the development of creative and innovative plans to support and reform a struggling public service. It is about the continuing roll out of the National Government's 'investment approach' to marketise and privatise health and social services. The terms of reference of the review include no plans to consult the New Zealand public or any of the many agencies and individuals with a stake in effective child protection services."

They welcome contributions from others who share their concerns.

Māori have also voiced concern about the lack of Māori representation on the review panel.

Head of Child Youth and Family, Bernadine Mackenzie, has published a message regarding the establishment of the expert advisory panel within the CYF Newsletter Awhi Mai, Awhi Atu.

Further information is in the media list below.


Tolley: CYF shake-up will be 'radical', 3 News, 11.09.2015

NZ’s most vulnerable children deserve transparency, Press Release: Public Services Association, 14.08.2015

Youth Advisory Panel to aid CYF design, Beehive: Anne Tolley, 07.07.2015

Child Youth And Family Forced to Leave Kids Unattended, Press Release: NZ First, Scoop, 24.06.2015 

Straight answers needed on CYF role, Press Release: Labour Party, Scoop, 24.06.2015 

Minister affirms need for CYF overhaul, Radio NZ, 24.06.2015 

Maori expertise overlooked says iwi group, Radio NZ, 28.05.2015 

Tolley reconsidering CYFS panel, Waatea News, 22.05.2015 

Budget 2015 supports at-risk children, Press Release: New Zealand Government, 21.05.2015 

Dismay at lack of Maori on CYF review panel, Radio NZ, 21.05.2015

Iwi leaders challenge all-white expert panel, Waatea News, 21.05.2015

Lack of Maori Representation Concerns Iwi Chairs, Press Release: Whānau Ora Iwi Leaders Group, Scoop, 20.05.2015 

Social workers fuming over CYF overhaul snub, Stuff, 18.05.2015

Sweeping changes for social services? Community Scoop, 12.04.2015 

Modernising Child, Youth and Family, Press Release: The Council for Social Work Education, 10.04.2015 

Editorial: CYF review sorely needed, Otago Daily Times, 09.04.2015

CYF Review: Panel must consult coal-face organisations, Press release: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust New Zealand,, 02.04.2015‎

CYF panel too focused on money - advocates, Radio New Zealand, 02.04.2015

Shake-up for Child, Youth and Family,, 02.04.2015

CYF overhaul welcomed by Opposition parties, 3News NZ, 02.04.2015

Child abuse rise sparks Child, Youth and Family review, Stuff, 02.04.2015

Long Overdue Review of CYF Welcomed, Press release: Family First NZ,, ‎01.04.2015‎

Yet another external review the last thing CYF needs - PSA, Voxy, 01.04.2015‎

Children must come first in Govt's CYF review - Greens, Voxy, ‎ 01.04.2015‎

Real changes must come from CYF review - Ardern, Voxy, 01.04.2015

Govt to overhaul Child, Youth and Family, Radio New Zealand, 01.04.2015‎

Child, Youth and Family to get complete overhaul, New Zealand Herald, 01.04.2015‎

CYF in line for major overhaul, Stuff, ‎01.04.2015‎

Child, Youth and Family '10 years behind' in thinking - Tolley, TVNZ, 01.04.2015‎

Independent expert panel to lead major CYF overhaul, Beehive: Anne Tolley, 01.04.2015


Image: iStock