‘Expert’ advice on informing victims’ parents questioned

Labour party officials defended their decision not to inform parents of the victims of the alleged sexual assaults at the Young Labour summer camp.

Stuff: Labour Party confirms sexual misconduct at camp – parents and police not told

Labour’s general secretary has defended not telling the police or parents about complaints teenagers were sexually assaulted at a summer camp last month.

Andrew Kirton, the Labour Party’s general secretary, said he stood by the way the party had handled the situation, which he said was done with a “victim-led” focus on the back of advice from a Wellington sexual violence charity.

Parents of the victims hadn’t been told about the incident because “we wanted to deal with the young people in the first instance,” Kirton said.

“We didn’t want to assume the young people involved had told their parents. They’re 16 so that had an impact on that decision and that was the advice we got.”

But the advice Kirton says he received is universal ‘best practice’.

I have received a copy of a professsional counselor’s advice on confidentially not being absolute when dealing with young people suffering trauma.


I have recently had a chance to catch up with the news regarding the sexual assault allegations perpetrated against 4 young people at the NZ Labour Party Youth Camp at Waihi, and I find myself feeling simply appalled by the role of the Counsellors in this saga.

In my professional practice opinion, gleaned from over 17,000 hours of practice, the decision by the so-called “experts” to not tell parents about what had happened to their children at the camp flies in the face of common sense and ethical decency.

This decision is also at odds with the evidence of what constitutes best practice.

There are a number of logical inconsistencies within the narrative of those who were charged with providing a safe environment for these young people – so many in fact as to risk eroding parental And caregiver confidence in the ability of the “experts” to actually make reasonable and rational decisions regarding people in crisis under their care.

This story is one of many to have emerged over time, under the mis-represented umbrella of “client confidentiality”.

Confidentiality (in any profession) is not absolute.

For Counsellors in this story to claim that confidentiality is absolute, is to incur an inconsistency with their own ethical Codes of Practice.

I know this, because I have had cause to review the Codes of Ethics for the six main Professional Associations that operate within the social service delivery space, a review that also included the Privacy Act 1993.

Every single one of the aforementioned documents accepts breach of confidentiality without client consent in four instances of disclosure: risk to self, risk to others, risk from others, and disclosure of illegal intent or action.

These breaches have particular significance for clients under the age of 17, which all of the alleged camp victims were.

Part of the informed consent process for clients in Counselling is for the Counsellor to advise clients at the beginning of the first session that some exceptions to confidentiality exist, prior to any disclosure being made.

Failure of the Counsellor to conduct an adequate informed consent process can result in the Counsellor adopting a level of responsibility for the client and families welfare that they have no right to claim in the absence of parental involvement and awareness (as has happened in this case).

Offering an illegitimate blanket of confidentiality also risks further alienating a young client from the enduring available support structures available within the family unit.

There is also a logical inconsistency in the reasons given by the experts not to tell the parents about what occurred in the camp, and it goes like this.

The experts in this saga claim that the alleged victims of the sexual assault were traumatised by the actions against them, yet it is these same traumatised minds that the experts choose to trust in terms of the victims (who are most likely fearful, confused, and in shock themselves) being able to make a reasonable decision about who to tell or not tell about what happened, because of the risk of re-traumatisation?!

This isn’t (as the experts claim) best practice – it’s rather professional abdication of a legitimate responsibility for the Counsellor to skillfully navigate the child towards their family so that the family can manage the issue at hand, with assistance from the Counsellor, if required.

The oft-repeated acclaimed rights of children and young people thus become misguided ideological nonsense when contrasted against the sanctity of the parent-child relationship which informs the right of parents to decide what is best for their children.

There is now a plethora of longitudinal population research studies that reveal that the higher order brain centres (e.g. the pre-frontal cortex, responsible for integrating sensory information and reasoning) don’t fully develop until the early-mid twenties.

To therefore assume (as the experts in this case have) that young people in crisis are capable of making a rational decision about what is best for them in the absence of parental or caregiver guidance is a classic example of present day ideology attempting to supersede historical and empirically revealed common sense.

Perhaps the lesson for the Counselling profession is this: when working with clients, and particularly younger clients, those who claim to be “helping” need to be very cautious of claiming a responsibility for a young person’s welfare or situation that is not theirs to claim.

A life may well eventually depend on the application of such professional discernment.

Slater begins self harming journalist utu

Cameron Slater seems to have always had a vengeful nature, and he has been promising revenge since he was hit by Dirty Politics. This week he began dishing out the dirt in retaliation.

He started with And so we begin on Wednesday, with Slater saying “Remember these words from Nicky Hager?” and quoting Hager:

Investigative writer Nicky Hager said he kept some journalists out of the dirt in his latest book Dirty Politics in hope of a cleaner future.

“If you see a name of a journalist in the book, they are the ones I don’t think have done anything wrong, they’re just incidental to the story. Every journalist who had been taking stories in dodgy ways from David Farrar, one of the bloggers, or Cameron Slater or from the prime minister’s office, I actually left their names out. I decided not to do the journalists basically.

The people I’m talking about are in the press gallery, senior journalists. Basically I didn’t want to humiliate them, I wanted to give them room to think again and do it differently. That was the reason. Because we’re a small country and there are only going to be the same senior journalists the year after and the year after that, so let them change their minds on it.”

Slater then said:

So Nicky Hager was threatening journalists to toe the line, and change, otherwise he’d out them.

Well, here is a list of the current Press Gallery journalists…I’ve crossed out the names of those I’ve had no dealings with.

You can work out for yourselves who Nicky Hager is referring to when he says “senior journalists”.

Most journalists were crossed out, but twelve were not.

His next post (30 minutes later) announced a book launch: Journalist, blogger, now: Author. Cam Slater’s new book

It is the first of many planned books that allow Cam to explore subjects in far more depth and provide far more analysis than is possible in a short blog post. The fast pace of blogging means that thought and contemplation and detailed analysis are often missed.

Launch:     Details to come.

Media:       To discuss an interview or serialising a chapter of this book please contact Cam

He has been promising a book of revelations for some time, but it looks like it could be a long form drip feed of “many planned books”.

An hour later Slater posted Telling the truth about Fran O’Sullivan and Dirty Politics on Tuesday.

I wasn’t invited to this left wing love fest so I thought I would contribute some documents today that show precisely how donkey deep Fran O’Sullivan really was in Dirty Politics and how like many people, used me to peddle information when it suited their personal agenda.

The difference between Fran and the rest of those people is that none have been stupid enough to behave like she has since and have stayed very quiet. Also none have sat doing it next to Nicky Hager as though they are now his puppet. Fran has previously seen fit to publish personal correspondence to her in her columns to defend what she thought was a wrong so I weighed this up in the decision to breach her privacy likewise and publish her emails to me without consent.

It is in the public interest, now she has hoist her own petard, that I respond to her claims and show precisely what she knew and happily participated in. She is after all now in a very senior position at the largest newspaper in New Zealand in charge of the reputation of its business reporting.

The following is an unsolicited email as recent as 2014, just two hours after I published a short post examining Michelle Boag’s endorsement of Len Brown.

He then published an email from O’Sullivan to himself.  So much for supposed journalist confidentiality that he is claiming for himself in a defamation case. It seems that confidentiality only matters when it suits him.

That’s right, Fran O’Sullivan directed me to information to perform a hit job on her good friend Michelle Boag because she didn’t like her commentary.

This is the very sort of conduct and “laundering of information” that so appalled Nicky Hager and his gushing fans. Boag and O’Sullivan’s personal grudge goes back to the Winebox days (and there is a story in that too). There was nothing in Fran O’Sullivan’s tip once I checked it out so I never ran the information on my blog.

He folowed this up yesterday (Thursday) with more in Dirty Politics and Fran O’Sullivan’s “Unethical Alliance” With Bloggers.

Yesterday I gave you a small taste of NZME. Editorial Director for Business, Fran O’Sullivan’s involvement.  She sent me information about my nemesis Michelle Boag seeking to discredit Boag’s commentary about Len Brown.

As promised I can reveal that also went much further than throwing our mutual enemy Michelle Boag under a large winebox.

This exchange follows where not only does Fran O’Sullivan encourage my work on Len Brown but confirms my sources, asks me when the EY report was due on Len Brown and then tells me when she will run it in the media next.

He then posted a number of email exchanges between himself and O’Sullivan. He concluded:

Sanctimonious journalists claiming the high ground really shouldn’t when they have as much to hide as Fran O’Sullivan.

So this looks like a major revenge attack on O’Sulllivan, using a few selected emails. If O’Sullivan wanted to hit back could she quote other emails between her and Slater, or would journalist confidentiality of sources prevent that?

Apart from that and the spat itself, this may reveal useful information about how some of the media work and how they worked with Slater. I’m not sure that that will help mend his severely tarnished reputation.

The repercussions of this may be much greater than simple payback from Slater.

He has complained over the last year about being isolated from the political and media gossip and leak circles.

Now journalists and politicians know that Slater is prepared to break confidentiality and reveal information to attack people he has fallen out with, who would be willing to try and deal the dirt he craves with him again?

The hack itself was a warning bell to those who had communicated with Slater. It was probably a one-off data leak but it showed the risks, especially with someone involved who has may a career out of making enemies.

But now Slater has shown that he can’t be trusted on confidentiality and that he will use communications that people may have thought confidential – Slater has sought journalist privilege in court to protect sources – this campaign of utu must be self-harming for him.

He may enjoy dishing out the dirt in the short term, but journalists and politicians and anyone involved in politics would surely now think even more carefully about having any communications with Slater.

And businesses using Slater’s promotional services should also think carefully about this. What if they somehow got off-side with Slater? Would he dump on them? It would appear that if he is annoyed then he is a risk.

Slater may claim to be a journalist but no one who values confidentiality should trust him now.

And he relied on media picking up and publicising his dirty stories. Who would do that for him now?

Slater may enjoy revenge but he also craves attention but on that this utu may turn out to be major self harm.

A journalist who is prepared to publicly throw their sources (and their integrity if they had any left) under a bus to self promote and dish out dirty revenge is likely to fall very flat themselves.