Sunday, May 2, 2010

Office of the Children’s Commission (OCC) New Zealand

I would like the Office of the Children’s Commission (OCC) New Zealand to answer the outstanding issues the then Children’s Commissioner, Dr Cindy Kiro created. The Current Children's Commissioner Mr John Angus, seem unwilling to respond and explain things,for which the document below will explain, that I emailed them.

Thank-you, for the acknowledgment to my more recent emails.

There was in fact a third email sent quite a few months ago in the same vain as the two you just acknowledged let alone had the issues within it addressed. My hope is that I will within a reasonable timeframe receive a response to the issues I have raised and that the long awaited acknowledgment will not be the end of it. Just to make a point clear I have spoken to some of my fellow protesters who will join me outside your offices if I get a lacklustre response or none.

It seems to me that the Office of the Children’s Commission (OCC) stifled all calls for an independent complaints Authority by suggesting it was it. I have never managed to get a straight answer from the Children’s Commission if they still believe this to be so as from that media statement as a result many people are under the false illusion you can hold Child, Youth and Family accountable.

Even members of parliament refer people to the OCC after this statement was made:

Children’s Commissioner has role in monitoring CYF
Thursday, 8 February 2007, 10:07 am
Press Release: Commissioner For Children

Media Release8 February 2007
Children’s Commissioner has role in monitoring Child, Youth & Family

Children’s Commissioner, Dr Cindy Kiro, has reacted to recent calls for the set-up of an independent complaints authority to monitor the activities of Child, Youth and Family (CYF) by pointing out that the Children’s Commisioner’s Act 2003 already provides the Children’s Commissioner with certain functions in relation to monitoring Child, Youth and Family Services (CYF) and other persons, bodies and organisations exercising any function or power conferred by the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989.
“As Children’s Commissioner, I am an Independent Crown Entity with powers to investigate any decision ...

If the OCC seems confused about what it can or can’t do then how is any member of the public meant to get their head around it. I believe that a few people besides me have written to your office asking about your role and functions and unable to decipher the response as it’s not in easy to understand plain English that a member of the public can grasp. Waffling with the regurgitation of nonsensical peripheral waffle about the Act is not a clear response.
It also makes me question if the Children's Commissioner is unsure or unwilling to explain.
Thinking the OCC could help with CYF complaints the Children's Commissioner hired a new staff member to do nothing but deal with complaints about Child, Youth and Family.
It was also stated “At the social services select committee yesterday, Dr Cindy Kiro said the commission got about 400 inquiries a year about CYFS… or more as it went on to state further in the article, Published 5:00 AM Thursday Feb 22, 2007

I know for a fact that families have contacted the Office of the Children’s Commission for help about children in CYF care and you have been unable to do so, which means they are unlikely to come back to the OCC, or refer others to you because of this. In theory the OCC should receive fewer complaints about CYF owing to this dilemma. The ironic thing is the OCC might now get the impression things at CYF have improved because you get fewer complaints coming to you about them.
What that means is there is no hope for Children and the families CYF rip apart and get separated, often to the detriment to all concerned; it’s a no win situation at a traumatic time for all and adds more stresses on top of what has already happened.

I believe Children/Youth are not an island, they need their families like, other siblings both parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins etc…( provided this is safe ) so many children seemed to be unnecessarily forced apart by an intervention and lose that connection with most of their family who like them are innocent parties in all this.
One child asked why they were being locked up like in a prison at the family home and given visiting times, like a criminal when they are the victim.

I fail to see how the OCC can find any of the aforementioned issues acceptable, allow it to continue and do very little if anything to try and resolve these situations as I have explained... To me allowing this to go on is like supporting systemic child abuse and punishing the victim again.

It is bad enough the OCC could not help in these circumstances but to give people the false hope you could in those types of cases as I have explained them, in my view was very cruel and unhelpful.
At long last the reality of what the OCC involvement could extend to was made public with the headlines “Swell of support for CYF complaints authority Monday, 21 August 2006, 2:24 pmPress Release: United Future NZ Party

“The Commission accepted that they did not have the power to investigate many areas regarding CYF complaints, as their mandate only pertains to the welfare of children.
“Any complaint from parents regarding their maltreatment or perceived abuse or other failure of CYF is completely out of the hands of the Children’s Commissioner,” says Mrs Turner….
"The Children’s Commission have publicly admitted that they do not have the resources to investigate all the complaints, instead “looking into matters where we have some common themes coming through”
I have not heard the OCC retract that statement by , Dr Cindy Kiro as it was in fact United Future NZ Party that in my view put things right for the record. However as much as I respect Mrs Turner, she does not speak for the OCC, you might totally disagree with what the United Future NZ Party spokesperson said and I for one would not mind knowing he OCC position on this.

Even after all this the OCC still stayed silent and from what I am aware never supported the call for an independent CYF complaints authority then or now. I would think a independent CYF complaints authority would be in the best interests of the children you are meant to advocate for.
Even if it was unintentional at the end of the day the OCC helped sabotaged the chances for a truly independent CYF complaints authority by not throwing their voice behind the calls for one, and accepting it is needed. I fail to see how that in any way helped Children and might I suggest hindered them instead. You are meant to advocate for children and you failed to do that on this issue then or now it seems.

For your information the current Chief Executive advisory panel can only be asked by the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to look into things at CYF. No member of the public can approach them, nor can they off their own back look into complaints. They are controlled by and answerable to the MSD who run CYF only.

To spite the fact the minister of the time said “ “the arguments have proven an independent authority has merit “
Published: 12:44PM Friday February 16, 2007, Source: Newstalk ZB

It was alleged the CEO of the MSD threaded to quit if an independent complaints authority happened as CYF was such an unwanted burden having to be merged back within the MSD as they could not find a standalone CEO for CYF. Even other parliamentarians hinted at the problem unbeknown,

“I don't know what they will do when the current Chief Executive, Peter Hughes, resigns from MSD; perhaps merge MSD/CYF and the Ministry of Health?” ... 30-April-2006,

I think Family first NZ Media release best sums things under the heading “CYF Complaints Authority Fails Miserably “on Thursday, 12 March 2009, 2:20 pm

“The Advisory Panel being adopted by the Ministry of Social Development has the inherent flaw of not being independent, and the Chief Executive still has the final decision as to the success of the complaint. This is unacceptable.”

The current Chief Executive Advisory Panel was doomed from the beginning and will forever be so while the MSD run it.
Now what I am hoping is the OCC will call for an independent complaints Authority and in the words of family first
"There is a Health and Disability Commissioner, a Police Complaints Authority, even a Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal. We desperately need an independent body to hear complaints about the highly sensitive nature of intervening in families." And yes I agree Bob,it would be in “the best interests of the social workers “ and familes.
I do realise the OCC is under resourced and more then likely you do not have the jurisdiction over CYF to address many complaints, we can’t hold the OCC responsible for these factors. However what I will hope the OCC might do as call for a truly independent complaints Authority for CYF, which you might very well end up being closely involved with along with the Families commission and others.
I would hope the OCC would not see a truly independent complaints Authority for CYF, as a turf war but rather complementary, for the sake of our children and families.

Mr John Angus, Children's Commissioner I hope you will take the time to consider all I have said and offer your views in response.
I will of course write to the Governor-General, Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, who I believe appointed, you to your position if you attempt to fog me off followed by a protest outside you office calling for your resignation or to be replaced. After all I am asking is that you do the job you are appointed to do.

I would also like to point out there is in fact not one place people can go to that can hold CYF accountable, like the OCC they all have their limitations including the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW), Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB) and so on. I can prove this if you want to download the read the evidence from here to date no one has been able to unequivocally dispute my research or findings to date.

Now. Given my disability and need for reasonable accommodation could you please respond via email with highlight-able text.
I do what to make it clear I reserve the right to publish this and your response should any be forthcoming.

It’s interesting that the Hon Paul Bennett questions the worth of the Families Commission, yet they have very little power if any when compared to that of the Children’s Commission. Yes Paula I do agree the families Commission research could be done better.
While the OCC has done some good things they could do far better with the power and voice they did have.
Maybe the Families Commission, could get a response from the OCC. Someone at some point has to speak out I believe or our children/youth and families will go on being destroyed while we wait….

Graeme Axford

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