Report on CYF involvement in 'Roast Busters' cases released

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The Chief Social Worker's review of Child, Youth and Family's involvement with the young people affected by the so-called "Roast Busters" group in West Auckland has been published. 

Tthe publically available version of report, Review of Practice for Sexual Exploitation of Vulnerable Adolescents in Auckland, is redacted is protect the identities and maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the young people involved.

The review considered "what was known by Child, Youth and Family at the time, what could have been known, and to consider whether Child, Youth and Family responded appropriately within this context."

Issues examined as part of the review include:

  • Social work decision making and judgements around levels of risk
  • Application of child protection policy and procedures
  • Recording of information
  • Information sharing both internally and with other agencies
  • Meeting the needs of the young people, both victims and the young men alleged to have perpetrated against them

The findings of the review covered a wide range of issues which included:

  • A reluctance on the part of some social workers to work with adolescents
  • 11 of the 14 young people referred to Child, Youth and Family were known to have had some previous Child, Youth and Family involvement, which "should in itself have been a factor in considering the individual resilience and possible vulnerabilities of those young people but the review team found little evidence of this." The immediate presenting issues were not related to case history or context.
  • Perceptions that what had occurred was consensual and "not abuse" (at times dues to miscommunication or misinformation) affected CYF's response. At times "discussions around whether the behaviours constituted acts of abuse appear to have detracted from the broader question of the young person's need for care and protection."
  • Issues around capacity and capability impacted.

Based on the findings, the review team made the following recommendations:

"1.      The way in which the service identifies and responds to potential risks for adolescents

  • Further consideration needs to be given to developing integrated, multi­ agency services at a local level to work with adolescents and their families from a holistic, needs led and children's rights perspective which would build both capacity and capability
  • Additional capability development and learning should be implemented to all practitioners about adolescents, specifically their cognitive, emotional and social development and the impact of this on their understanding and actions, how to engage, build and maintain relationships with them, and evidenced based intervention strategies.
  • Further work should take place on a multi-agency basis to consider effective and evidence based intervention strategies in the area of risk taking behaviour
  • Multi-agency guidance should be developed to consider the circumstances where  agencies may need to consider a more formal response to concerns about harmful sexual behaviour, including risk management, well-being and harm reduction strategies

2.      The role of Child, Youth and Family in care and protection work, with a particular focus on the Child Protection Protocol and in mass allegation investigations

  • Current guidance and policies on Child, Youth and Family practice centre should be revisited to ensure that key messages about risk and vulnerability are clearly articulated, aligned to legislative responsibilities, recognise the importance of professional judgement and the overall objectives to maintain a child centred, outcome focused approach are prioritised
  • There is a need for a strong positional statement about Child, Youth and Family's need to consider risk from the perspective of the child, not the process. This should include revisiting the definitions we currently use and criteria for identifying harm.
  • The MAI [Mass Allegation Investigations] protocol, currently under review, requires significant change to ensure more emphasis is placed on well-being and safety of young people as well as clear processes for considering the individual needs of young people where such needs arise. 

3.      Partnership working across agencies and with young people and families

  • In order to build a culture of information sharing when there are risks to children and young people, guidance on information sharing for practitioners should be developed across all agencies working with children and young people were possible risks are identified.
  • Practice around working with and assessing needs and risk to adolescents should be developed from a multi-agency perspective
  • Care and protection protocols should be revisited to ensure there is an opportunity for multi-agency discussions where required, and should not just be limited to Police and Child, Youth and Family.
  • The review team recommend the introduction of Local Community Partnership Forums, where local trends and needs can be identified and considered, as well as local strategic responses and planning developed.
  • The creation of such a forum would require a structure for governance and accountability, as well as resources to deliver services to meet local needs and could also have a role in developing workforce capability at a local level. The development of such a forum would obviously need to be considered within the context of already existing mechanisms and partnerships but the primary focus would be to respond to the most vulnerable children and young people. 

4.       Recording

  • Roles and responsibilities for recording and linking individuals as participants on CYRAS needs to be reiterated, both to the National Contact Centre and sites as additional information may come to light
  • The details of young people involved in potential MAI and any interventions or decisions in respect of this should be recorded on CYRAS"

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said, "I welcome this review and its recommendations, all of which are being implemented by CYF, while the wider Vulnerable Children’s Board will address how best to improve inter-agency coordination on harmful sexual behaviour." 

"CYF accepts that it could have done better in this case, and it is vital that the agency learns from this and adapts its processes and operations so that any future response addresses the needs of vulnerable young people."

"The review has also fed into the work of the expert advisory panel, as it prepares a detailed business case on the overhaul of CYF. The panel’s report is due to be delivered to me within the next few weeks. Once I have considered the report I plan to take a paper to Cabinet on the next steps early in 2016."

More information on the work of the expert advisory panel is available in this previous NZFVC news story.

The report on Child, Youth and Family's involvement follows a report into Police involvement by the Independent Police conduct Authority, published in March 2015 (see below).

More information on the so-called "Roast Busters" is available in these previous NZFVC news stories:

'Roast Busters': IPCA report criticises Police, responses to the report (March 2015)

No charges laid: Responses to the 'Roast Busters' decision (November 2014)

Updates on the 'Roast Busters' (May 2014)

Responses to the 'Roast Busters' (November 2013)

Media

District Commander Receives International Excellence Award, Press Release: NZ Police, Scoop, 19.09.2017

Anne Tolley: CYF staff don't abuse children, New Zealand Herald, 03.12.2015 

CYF staff don't abuse children: Tolley, Otago Daily Times, 03.12.2015 

Highly-critical report raises questions over CYF handling of Roast Busters case, NZ Herald, 02.12.15‎ 

Roast Busters: CYF review shows 'gap' in process, 3News, 02.12.15‎ 

CYF 'could've done better' in Roast Busters case, 3News, 02.12.15‎ 

CYF handling of Roast Buster case found wanting, Stuff, 02.12.15‎

Improving CYF’s response to allegations, Beehive: Anne Tolley, 03.12.15

Review of Practice for Sexual Exploitation of Adolescents, Press Release: Ministry of Social Development, 03.12.15