Herald against family violence

The Herald has started a series on family violence.

Family violence: Emily’s story – ‘When I see her in my dreams she gives me a hug’


New Zealand has the worst rate of family and intimate-partner violence in the world. A shocking 80 per cent of incidents go unreported — so what we know of family violence in our community is barely the tip of the iceberg. Today is part one of We’re Better Than This, a six-day series on family violence. Our aim is to raise awareness, to educate, to give an insight into the victims and perpetrators. We want to encourage victims to have the strength to speak out, and abusers the courage to change their behaviour.

Five years ago Emily Longley was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Today, her father Mark writes about the terrible toll of losing his daughter — and the hope that her story can help others as the Herald launches a series on family violence.

Their editorial also addresses family violence:

Editorial: Never any excuse for a man to hit a woman

Kiwi males must take lesson on board for NZ to end disgrace of its family violence stats.

Let us not soften the language we use about a man who hits a woman. It has been called domestic violence or partner violence. Our in-depth examination of the problem today and through next week is labelled “family violence” because an entire family suffers when a parent resorts to violence to control a partner or children. But at its most serious level, this problem is men. Not all men, not even most men, and, as some men always point out, not just men. Women can, and do, resort to violence too.

But this subject is too important to be blurred and broadened for the sake of gender neutrality. New Zealand has one of the worst family violence rates in the world and it is a fair bet women are not responsible for most of it, and certainly not the worst of it. We should not listen to claims of provocation, verbal or physical. If we are going to eradicate this disgrace on our society the truth needs to be implanted in every male mind that there is never an excuse for a man to hit a woman.

I’m reluctant to agree with “never an excuse”, just as I’m reluctant to say there should never be war, but it should at least be seen as a rare exception to the rule of non-violence.

But we can and must do more to make it clear that in most situations resorting to violence is simply out of bounds, it shouldn’t happen and it should be made clear that it is unacceptable behaviour.

Men in particular (a minority by sadly a fairly significant minority) are responsible for violence and especially the worst violence.

So men in general have a responsibility to do what they can – which is quite a bit more than has been done in the past – to speak up against family violence and where possible act against family violence.

From the Herald:

If you’re in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you
• Run outside and head for where there are other people
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you
• Take the children with you
• Don’t stop to get anything else
• If you are being abused, remember it’s not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women’s Refuge: Free national crisisline operates 24/7 – 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• ShineFree national helpline 9am- 11pm every day – 0508 744 633www.2shine.org.nz
• It’s Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisisline 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men’s violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz

How to hide your visit

If you are reading this information on the Herald website and you’re worried that someone using the same computer will find out what you’ve been looking at, you can follow the steps at the link here to hide your visit. Each of the websites above also have a section that outlines this process.

NZ Herald

Speak out on family violence

The NZ Police Commissioner Mike Bush and Police Commissioners from across Australia have launched a joint Leadership Statement and Policing Principles for Protecting Women and Children from Family Violence.

The Police Commissioners have called on the community to challenge behaviour that turns a blind eye to family violence and attitudes which reflect an endemic disrespect of women.

“Police are committed to doing everything in their power to prevent family violence, protect victims and hold perpetrators to account,” says Commissioner Mike Bush.

“But Police cannot prevent family violence on their own. Police Commissioners are calling on the community to act.

“In New Zealand, on average Police respond to a family violence incident every 5 minutes. The statistics are appalling and a stark reminder of how much work we need to do. But we can’t do it alone.

“We need to work together as a community to challenge behaviours and attitudes that condone violence or sexism. We are asking the community to stand up and speak out.

“People often make excuses for violence and police hear these every day. It is never a victim’s fault. It is never ok to use violence and we won’t accept it.

“Living free from violence is everyone’s right and reducing violence is everyone’s responsibility.”

This also applies to commenting here and elsewhere online.

Robust argument is encouraged here, but personal attacks and abusing people (a form of violence), and showing disrespect for gender, racial or religious groups, are not wanted here.

I’m not always on hand to challenge violent and abusive behaviour but the community usually does a good job of stepping in and responding appropriately. Thanks for your help with that. Respectful debate is a joint effort.

Rephrasing the last paragraph from the police statement:

“Commenting free from violence is everyone’s right
and reducing violence is everyone’s responsibility.”

Getting help on violence


Steven Hansen on The Nation

A top inteview of All Black coach Steve Hansen by Patrick Gower this morning on The Nation (replayed Sunday at 10 am).

This has interest and relevance much wider than the All Blacks and rugby and sport, what Hansen discusses is also applicable to family, relationships and business.

Steve Hansen talks to Patrick Gower about love, leadership and not losing a week out from the start of the Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks coach talks about the goal the team has set of trying to be one of the most dominant sides in the history of the game and how it would “destroy” him to not do the right thing.

Video: Interview: All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen

One interesting comment came when Gower asked Hansen how he motivated the players. Hansen responded that it wasn’t his job to motivate them, he needed to create an environment in which motivated players could perform.

How do you motivate yourself? You spend a lot of time motivating the team, obviously, but what’s motivating you?

Interestingly enough, I don’t think my job is to motivate the team. My job is to create an environment where motivated athletes can perform.

This has a similarity to the Government’s aim with business development – it isn’t up to Government to motivate businesses financially or otherwise, the Government’s job is to create an environment in which motivated businesses can thrive.

Patrick Gower: Steve Hansen, thank you for joining us.

Steve Hansen: A pleasure.

The All Blacks – a great team, a great history, a great heritage. I want to ask you first what, in your opinion, makes the All Blacks the All Blacks?

Well, a lot of what you’ve just said. I think the history and what’s gone before. You know, we’re a little nation, and we started playing a game that was invented in England and looked down their noses at us over that, and it was something we were good at, and it suited the farmers of the day and the physical workers of the day. And as time’s gone on, we’ve built a legacy, a story that now has a massive expectation that goes with it, and it’s something we can all be proud of as New Zealanders.

Yeah, we’ll get into a lot of that, but I guess to pick up on the legacy, obviously every All Black team is different. What defines Steve Hansen’s All Blacks, in your mind?

It’s not Steve Hansen’s team, because I think the key thing is it’s about a collective group of men and women who – management, players – are trying to do something to enhance what’s happened beforehand. And to do that, we’ve been the number-one side in the world for a number of years now, and so we have to set ourselves some lofty goals, and some people may say that’s arrogant, but I think if you want to achieve something in life, you’ve got to set big goals. And whether you reach them or not is irrelevant; it’s the fact that you’re trying to reach them, and that’s all we’re doing at the moment. We’ve set ourselves a goal of trying to be one of the most dominant sides in the history of the game, and it’s not for us to judge whether we’ve done that. It’s about that’s what we want to achieve. And to do that, we also want to be, you know, humble, grateful men and women for being part of it. It’s a special place to be in the All Blacks, and whilst it comes with a lot of responsibility, you know, it’s something that we all love and enjoy.

Sure. I want to pick up on that collective phrase that you used there, rather than being ‘your’ team, it’s ‘the’ team, I guess.


Is that one of the defining factors – the fact that is a collective?

I think it could be. I think it’s something that we’ve learned over time that for this team to really play well, we need to be as one and the team has to be greater than the individual. And in doing that, we need to make sure a few things happen. One is make sure we’re on the job with our game, so we’re looking to improve the style of game we’re playing all the time and better it. But we have to have a massive amount of alignment from, you know, the guy who’s seen to be at the top, which is me, to the guy who’s just having his first week in the team. And that comes through obviously the coaches being aligned on how we want to play, the management being aligned on how we want to live as a team, and then taking that alignment to the leaders – we have our leadership group – that has the opportunity to say, ‘Well, yeah, I agree with that,’ or, ‘Nah, I don’t agree with that,’ and we have some robust debates and discussions. And then everyone has to disagree and commit or agree and commit. And then it’s up to the players to actually drive it, because it’s their team and it’s their moment in the jersey, and that’s their opportunity to leave something behind for the next group.

Yeah, because you’ve talked about humility and you’ve talked about, you know, devolving leadership in some senses. I mean, that means you as the coach, the figurehead in many senses, what you have to give up – some authority. You have to give up some control. Is that right?

Well, it might seem like you have to give up some control, but, really, it’s not about control. It’s about everybody going in the same direction, trying to achieve the same thing, and so you’re not having to control anyone to do that. They want to be alongside you. And in some cases, you want them to be in front of you because they’re the people that are out there playing, and they’ve got to make the big decisions in the moment in the contest. And all we are is here to facilitate an environment and training and on and off the field an environment that is conducive to them being able to play on Saturday.

Yeah, and that means giving the players control in some senses.

Yeah, it is, but once you get in there and you start doing that, it’s not— looking at your face, you seem to think that that’s quite frightening, but it’s not. You know, it’s actually no different than a family. We see ourselves as a big family, and, you know, there comes a time when the young children in the family have to start taking some responsibility. And as they get a little wiser and a little older, you give them more and more responsibility to the point where, you know, they’re capable of running it themselves and Mum and Dad can sit back and actually enjoy it.

So you actually see this team as like a family, like a real family?

I do, and I think most of the people in it at the moment feel like that. You know, it’s a group of people trying to achieve a common goal, which is, put simply, to win every game we play, to make people proud of us. And to do that, we have to be all on, as I said, the same page. But there’s certain dynamics that happen within a family that happen within a team, and those dynamics sometimes can be positives or they can be negatives, and there’s always consequences either way. You know, you’re getting a pat on the back if you’re doing something positive or maybe a kick in the bum if you’re not doing what’s right. But you love the people that you work with, but sometimes you don’t like their behaviours, and that’s no different than your family too. You love your children and your partner and your wives and et cetera, but sometimes you don’t like their behaviour, and it’s a matter of saying, ‘Righto, well, that standard doesn’t live in this house,’ and it’s no different here. We’ve got standards and expectations. Don’t have a lot of rules, but those standards and expectations are driven every day and driven by the people from the top down and the bottom up, and no one has any right not to be living them, including myself, so…

I mean, how do you fit into that, you know, into this family concept? I mean, obviously you can’t be everybody’s mate; you’re the coach.

Look, again, I think when we first started out, as a leader you’ve got to decide, ‘Right, how am I going to live as a leader? What are the things that I’m going to negotiate on, and what are the things I’m not going to negotiate on?’ And when I presented those to the team, the number-one thing, the expectation I had, was the team would always come first. So every decision we make about and around the team is about what’s right for the team. So whilst you can be great mates, there’s always going to be a time when you have to make a decision, and then what’s stronger – your loyalty to that person or the team? And as much as I love everybody in the group, I love the team too. And my job is to make sure that the team is left better than what we found it. So, yeah, there are some tough decisions you have to make, but when you go back to, ‘Well, is this right for the team? Yes,’ then it’s an easy decision and even though there can be some tough moments within that decision.

You’re using the term ‘love’ there. You’re talking about loving these guys. I mean, you know, using that word to old-school All Blacks or old-school New Zealanders might seem a little namby-pamby in some senses. It’s fine by you, obviously?

Oh, it may seem namby-pamby to some people, but I know that to get the best out of these people and, again, I refer back to your family, like is it namby-pamby to love your own children and love your wife? I don’t think so, so why would it be any different when you spend a lot of time together and some of those times are heart-wrenching, some of them are great experiences, and I just see it as just a natural progression of being together, and they’re a group of brothers, and it’s about sharing those intimate moments from a sporting environment and you become closer because of that.

We talked before about getting a pat on the back, as you said, or a kick up the bum.


How do you, Steve Hansen… how do you see, how do you get the feel for what a player needs? How do you read a player as to whether they need that?

Well, once we’ve talked about the team coming first, the team’s made up of a whole lot of individuals, so you try and do your best to get to understand the individuals and what makes him or her tick and particularly the players. You’re really looking at them, ‘How am I going to get the best out of that person?’ along with the other guys that are helping you do that. And it’s just about watching them every day. You know, ‘Okay, well, he’s come in for breakfast today, and he don’t look happy, so something’s happening in his life or…’ It’s a feel. I don’t know. You just know after a while when you’re rubbing shoulders with them all the time what individuals need and what they don’t, and I guess that’s the art of coaching.

I mean, some people— it is the art of coaching, of course, or emotional intelligence, or EQ, I guess. You know, have people said that to you before, ‘You’ve obviously got a high EQ – high emotional intelligence’? Is that something you’ve got?

Oh, not sure. My wife would probably tell you I don’t, but, look, I think if you take the time to get to know yourself first. Like, self-awareness is massive, you know, ‘What’s the thing that I know about myself when I’m under pressure?’ and then you can actually look at others and say, ‘Well, that’s how he reacts. That’s how she reacts,’ and good, bad or indifferent. And when you know those things, then you can help them be better.

How do you motivate yourself? You spend a lot of time motivating the team, obviously, but what’s motivating you?

Interestingly enough, I don’t think my job is to motivate the team. My job is to create an environment where motivated athletes can perform. So how do I motivate myself? I guess it’s, one, I love winning – really love it. I’m a very, very competitive person. You know, I love debating and having discussions. And when I was younger, I was probably an average human being because of that, because I’d lose sight of, actually, this is just a discussion; it’s not a competition. That took a while for me to learn that and probably hurt some people along the way, but… So I love winning.

How did you hurt people? By…?

Well, New Zealanders are great at putting other people down. You know, some of us are quite sharp with our tongues, and you hurt people’s feelings by smacking them when— I don’t mean physically but verbally because you’ve outwitted them, but you walk away feeling pretty good about yourself because you’ve won that argument, but really you didn’t. You lost. You know, you lost somebody. So once you learn those sorts of things, I think that’s a little easier to understand compassion, I guess. But going back to your question of how do I motivate myself? Well, one, as I said, I’m competitive. Two, I have a massive amount of respect for the All Black jersey. I think, you know, I was never good enough to play for the All Blacks. I’m very, very grateful for the fact that I’ve been given the opportunity to even be the assistant coach, let alone the head coach. I’ve spent a lot of time in here now, and I understand the identity of who we are and what we want to be, and the mere thought of not doing what was right would, you know, destroy me, I think. I really desperately want to make sure when you walk away it’s been done right. So that motivates you. Then you’ve got your family, who make a massive sacrifice. And people say, ‘Oh, you sacrifice a lot to be here.’ We don’t sacrifice anything. We get to tour the world, we get to stay in lovely hotels and we get to play great arenas, and you’re doing something that a lot of people would chop their arm off to do. But the people who do sacrifice are your family, so you don’t want to let them down. If you’re going to be away from them, you need to be great, so that motivates you. And I think they’re probably the three key things that get me up in the morning and want me to be good at what I do.

You know, there’s also the bad feeling or the fear that New Zealand has of losing or that anger that comes out when the All Blacks do lose, and, you know, you’ve obviously thought a lot about this. It’s that weight of expectation that is on you from the country. How do you deal with that?

The key thing you’ve got to deal with first and foremost is understanding that in the All Blacks there’s a constant pressure. It’s constant. It’s just there all the time. There’s an expectation. And once you understand that and you accept it, it’s a lot easier to deal with it, because it’s just there, so, ‘Okay, what am I—? Am I going to run away from it, or am I going to walk towards it and take this on?’ And one of the reasons why the All Blacks have been as good as they’ve become over many many years I think is that expectation externally – our fans, our ex-rugby players – all expecting to front up and play well and win. Internally, the expectations have to be greater than that, and they have to meet those expectations and even be higher, so I think it’s driven the All Blacks. For a long time I think the All Blacks were driven by a fear of losing. You know, over time I think we’ve changed that to really not fear losing, because when you fear something, you stop taking risks, and if you don’t take risks, you don’t get the big rewards. And I think winning the World Cup in 2011 took a big monkey off a lot of people’s backs, and we could say, ‘Well, okay, people can stop calling us chokers now.’ And not only just the players, I think the whole country – it was just a big sigh of relief. And, you know, I’m a great believer that you’ve got to keep challenging the boundaries and you’ve got to be courageous enough to, you know, step off the cliff and jump into the unknown. And, you know, if you’ve got talent when you do that, then anything can happen. You can go to places that people can’t dream of.

What sort of things do you do to get out of the comfort zone – is what you’re talking about here, isn’t it? Get yourself out of the comfort zone, get the team out of the comfort zone. You know, what’s a sort of practical example of a risk that you’ve taken to get this team ready for the World Cup?

Well, probably our selections for this World Cup. We could have easily stayed with the tried and true, you know, a 53-capper in Cory Jane and a 49-capper in Israel Dagg, but we chose two guys who, one’s had 40 minutes and broke a leg and the other guy’s played two Test matches. But when we weighed it up from a selection point of view, we just thought, ‘These two guys are bringing something that we haven’t had that could really open up our game, and we really need it to be opened up. So is the reward worthy of a risk?’ and the three selectors said, ‘Yes, it is, so let’s go for it.’

You know, do you personally worry about losing at the World Cup? I mean, do you think about it? Do you block that out or, you know…?

I don’t worry about it, because worry is, for my mind, a wasted emotion. It’s either hasn’t happened or it has happened. So if it hasn’t happened, work towards it not – making sure it doesn’t happen – and if it has happened, then you’ve got to fix up what’s happening right now, the aftermath of it happening. So is it a possibility? Of course it is. You know, what we’re going to try and do, no one’s done before. No one’s won back-to-back World Cups. The All Blacks haven’t even been in a final in the UK or a European World Cup. So we would be very naïve and very foolish not to be thinking, you know, this could happen. And if we become fearful in that, then that’s what will happen. But if we can understand that those things are just in… they’re facts that maybe we don’t as a nation or maybe as past teams don’t want to actually— inconvenient facts that we don’t want to acknowledge. Well, we have to acknowledge them because that allows us to move back over to this side and say, ‘Righto, what are we going to do about that? How are we going to plan so it doesn’t happen? Why has it happened before?’ You know, I’ve been in All Black teams in 2007. We had the best team at that tournament, but we made massive mistakes. We’ve got to learn from those mistakes, otherwise the mistake was…. You know, it kills you. It hurts like hell to lose, but it’s even worse if you don’t learn from it and you’ve got nothing out of it. You’ve got to get something out of a loss.

So what’s the one thing that you’ve learned in all that time coaching that can stop us from losing this World Cup?

That we can’t just turn up there as the defenders of this Cup and expect to win it. We’re contenders like everybody else and there’s 20 teams there, so there’s another 19 teams, and we have to earn the right to even get to the play-offs. And then once we get to the play-offs, we have to earn the right to take the next step. So everything we do, we have to earn it.

How do you do that, though? Because, of course, everyone will say we can’t turn up like we expect to win. We’ve got to turn up, as you say, like contenders. But how do you actually create that mind shift so it’s real?

I think—

Because everyone would grapple with this. Everyone wants to get better. I mean, how do you actually do it?

I think it’s about living it every day. You create an environment where you’re living every day trying to get better and you’re not accepting that what you’re doing today’s good enough. And I think if you keep pushing and pushing that and everyone’s bought in to it first and foremost and then you keep pushing it and driving it, it’s achievable. But the minute you decide that, ‘Okay, well, we’ve arrived,’ someone’s just going to draw straight past you. So whilst we’re in front, how hard are the people behind us working? They’re working extremely hard because they want to be in front, so therefore we have to work just as hard in the front. And I think that’s the mistake sometimes we can make in sporting and even in business, I reckon. You know, you go in really well, but you’re not looking at all the inconvenient facts that are out there saying, ‘Well, you know, if you don’t sort that out, that’s going to be a problem. If you don’t sort that out, that’s going to be a problem.’ And if you’re not real with yourself, then, you know, you’re not going to get any better, so… It doesn’t mean to say we’ll win the World Cup because we know these things. We’ve still got to drive them, and there’s still going to be some really, really good— I think it’s probably the best World Cup of the four that I’ve been to because anyone can win it. You know, and the number-two side at the moment in the world is Ireland. It might have slipped after losing the other day, I’m not sure, but currently I think they’re number two. We could play them in a quarter-final. And the number-one side and the number-two side ranked in the world – one of us is not going to go forward. Now, so just because you’ve got a ranking that says you’re one or two or three or four doesn’t give you the right to be in the top four for the semi-finals, and it certainly doesn’t give you a right to be in the final.

That’s a good place to leave it. Steve Hansen, thank you for your time.

Thank you. Cheers.

Transcript provided by Able. http://www.able.co.nz

Looking beyond CYF for solutions

To vulnerable children and at risk families CYF may look more like a problem than a solution.  The Children’s Commissioner’s State of Care Report found that at times they create more problems than they solve when they place children in state care that doesn’t care for them adequately.

CYF (Child, Youth, Familiy) is a Government department that has a responsibility to help keep children safe.

Who we are and what we do

We help families help themselves. We believe all children belong in families that will love and nurture them. We team up with many different groups and people so that families have the support they need to help their children thrive.

What we do

We work closely with families to help them find their own solutions, so they can:

  • deal with their problems
  • make the changes they need so their children will be safe and well cared for
  • achieve their goals for the family.

When children need secure, loving, long-term homes, we’ll work with family and whanau, caregivers, and adoptive parents to find them one.

When young people offend, we want them to get back on track and make good decisions in the future. We’ll organise a conference for the young person, their family and the victim of their offending to meet and talk about the impact of their actions. We’ll then help them get back on track for a successful future.

We partner up with hundreds of social services providers to get the message to communities – together we can help all our children be safe, strong and thrive!

So they have an important role to play – but one of their most effective roles may be to work with and refer to solutions beyond themelves.

An NZ Herald special report looks at this – A child abuse solution beyond CYF.

Fixing child abuse and neglect is all about building relationships with families in need, social workers say.

It requires respect and time and an ability to connect through a common culture. And that is likely to require far more fluid ways of working than the fixed roles and rigid time limits that have been part of the culture of Child, Youth and Family (CYF).

A succession of inquiries into CYF has found collaboration has been sacrificed to deadlines. Repeated reviews of the worst cases, such as the 13-year-old boy who killed Henderson dairy owner Arun Kumar featured in the Weekend Herald, have found children fall through the cracks.

Grant Wilson, a social worker for West Auckland’s Te Whanau o Waipareira who worked with the boy’s drug-addicted family, says CYF can’t hope to build a trusting relationship with such a family under current rules. Last year the average CYF worker looked after 14 families and saw them for a total of only 13 per cent of their paid hours each week.

“My method is to build a substantial relationship with those people,” Mr Wilson says. “Having a shared experience is a really important thing when you’re trying to build a relationship with someone who’s been in prison, who thinks their life is more ratshit than anyone else’s.”


Katie Murray of Kaitaia-based youth agency Waitomo Papakainga says that as 58 per cent of children in state care are Maori, CYF must work with agencies like hers.

“You cannot be sending non-Maori into our hard Maori homes,” she says. “But I can send any of my crew in there and it doesn’t matter which gang it is, they all know us in town.”


The Maori Women’s Welfare League has told the Rebstock panel CYF needs to share investigation and decision-making with community groups, hand over running family group conferences to community leaders, hold the conferences on marae instead of in CYF offices, place children with extended whanau, and work with their parents so the children can return if possible.

“[We] need to develop a culture within CYF that they are there to help, not to prosecute,” it says.

While CYF is the Government agency with overall responsibiklity for the safety of children in families the solutions have to be found withion families and within communities as much as possible.

Children’s Commissioner’s State of Care Report

Children’s Commissioner Dr Russel Wills has just released the first of what will be an annual report. It’s damning of the poor quality of State care of children and notes grave concerns about the safety of children in Sate care.

Radio NZ report: ‘Dump and run’ culture at CYF

The Children’s Commissioner’s first annual report has strongly criticised Child, Youth and Family for what it calls a dump and run culture of neglect

In his first annual report, State of Care 2015, commissioner Russell Wills finds systemic failures in the service and says it is doubtful children are better off in state care.

“We don’t know if children are any better off as a result of state intervention, but the indications are not good,” it said.

The report said too many children were bounced from one placement to the next.

“In the course of our preparation for this report, we heard of children who had had upwards of 20, 40, and in one case over 60 care placements in their short lives,” it said.

Supervisors and social workers did not understand their roles and responsibilities, and there was often very little supervision of children.

“Some providers went so far as to characterise CYF’s attitude to these placements as ‘dump and run’.”

Many workers lacked the right qualifications or experience, and were not properly supervised.

Dr Wills told Morning Report other ministries, such as justice, health and education, ministries must work with CYF, to get the changes needed. “I think we’ve got a culture where the other agencies expect CYFs to do all the work, that’s not right and that’s not fair.”

From State of Care 2015: At a glance:

What do we expect from Child, Youth and Family?

CYF is the statutory service charged with protecting children from abuse and neglect, providing secure care to those who need it, and the care of children who have committed an offence.

New Zealanders expect CYF to keep children safe from immediate harm and hold children who have committed offences accountable, but more than that, we expect CYF and other government agencies to take good care of children and improve their life outcomes.

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner expects best practice

Our independent monitoring of CYF provides a tool to ensure CYF, as the primary service responsible for the care of vulnerable children, provides high quality services that improve children’s lives. We examine CYF’s policies and assess its practices, and consider how well these meet the needs of children. Our expectations of CYF are set out in our monitoring framework.

We expect CYF to deliver high quality services, plan for the future, make good decisions, learn from mistakes, work effectively with other agencies, seek children’s views, and improve children’s lives. Part 1 summarises the findings of our monitoring of selected CYF sites and residences against these expectations between January 2014 and June 2015.

Children expect to be treated with care and respect

Children also have expectations of CYF. They expect CYF to tell them what they are entitled to, provide them with high quality social workers and caregivers, help them maintain relationships with their birth family/whānau, give them a voice in decisions about their care, and, crucially, listen to what they say.

Children can tell us a lot about whether CYF is meeting its objective of putting children at the centre of everything it does. Part 2 summarises what children told us about their experiences with CYF between January 2014 and June 2015.

Children should be better off as a result of state intervention

A fundamental expectation we have is that children who come into contact with CYF should be better off as a result. Part of our monitoring function is to consider the outcomes CYF is achieving for children in care.

CYF’s practice framework talks about keeping children safe from abuse and neglect, providing them with secure care, addressing the effects of any harm they have already suffered, and restoring and improving their wellbeing.

CYF has recently developed an outcomes framework that will require CYF and other agencies to ensure that children are safe, healthy, achieving, belong, participate, and have improved life outcomes. As CYF develops indicators to measure these outcomes, we thought it would be timely to provide an assessment of how well CYF is currently doing at improving children’s outcomes.

Part 3 attempts to do this, based on the available data, our overall findings, and feedback we received in our engagement with key stakeholders.

Is CYF meeting these expectations?

CYF’s practice is not consistent

Some of the CYF sites and residences we monitored in the past 18 months met or exceeded our expectations. CYF generally has strong frontend systems and processes for investigating and making decisions about cases of potential abuse and neglect, which means it generally does well at keeping children safe from immediate risk of abuse and neglect.

However, CYF’s overall performance against our monitoring framework was highly variable. Across most of the sites and residences we monitored, we found inconsistent vision and direction, variable social work and care practice, and insufficient priority given to cultural capability. Underpinning these findings was a core issue with workforce capacity and capability.

CYF does not put children at the centre of everything it does

Some children report positive and life-changing experiences with CYF, but others report negative and harmful experiences. Generally speaking, the longer a child spends in CYF care, the more likely they are to experience harmful consequences.

The feedback we received from children suggested a system that is not centred on their needs, and that does not take into account the potential negative consequences of CYF’s actions and decisions on children. We have a number of suggestions to help CYF ensure children are at the centre of everything it does.

We don’t know if children are better off as a result of state intervention

Accessing data about children’s outcomes is core to our monitoring framework. Yet there is little reliable or easily accessible data available about the outcomes of children in the care system. In our view, CYF and MSD’s systems are not set up to measure and record the information that matters, and the integration of data between MSD and other government agencies is poor.

Better collection and analysis of data is essential for CYF to improve its services and for the Government and the public to have confidence that CYF and other state agencies are improving outcomes for vulnerable children. We don’t have enough information to say conclusively whether children are better off as a result of state intervention, but the limited data we do have about health, education, and justice outcomes is concerning.

CYF focuses more on keeping children safe, and less on improving their long-term outcomes

CYF has become oriented towards front-end processes for investigating and making decisions about cases of potential abuse and neglect, at the expense of on-going support for children in all types of care placements.

We make this observation based on our monitoring findings, which found strong intake and assessment practices in most of the CYF sites we monitored, but poor case management and oversight of young people in specialist care placements. It is supported by what children and other key stakeholders told us about their experiences with CYF.

This observation is consistent with the conclusions in the recent Workload and Casework Review undertaken by the Office of the Chief Social Worker within CYF.

The reasons for this focus on front-end services are complex and historical, and we have not attempted to analyse them here. Rather, we have focused on ways to support CYF to maintain its focus on initial safety, and to expand this to include the on-going support necessary to improve children’s outcomes in the long term. This will require a greater level of investment in children in all types of care placement.

CYF can’t do this on its own. Some changes are within CYF’s power to effect, but some will rely on other state agencies, service providers, and NGOs working effectively in partnership with CYF. It is our view that all the participants in the wider care
and protection and youth justice systems need to work together much better to deliver effective, high quality services to vulnerable children.

Health and education services in particular need to support children in care to achieve better outcomes. This will require leadership from the Ministries of Health and Education to be accountable for achieving better outcomes for these children, and for ensuring local providers in their sectors are supported to meet explicit expectations about what they deliver to children in care.


We made 53 recommendations to help CYF lift its performance and improve outcomes for children in our monitoring reports between January 2014 and June 2015. Some were directed at individual sites or residences, while others were changes CYF national office could make to improve policies and practice across multiple sites and residences.

The 53 recommendations were aligned to the key themes that recurred in our monitoring findings, and can be grouped in the following categories:
• Clarity of purpose, direction, and strategy (nine recommendations);
• Ensuring child-centred practice (11 recommendations);
• Improving the quality of social work practice across all types of care placement (nine recommendations);
• Building workforce capacity and capability (eight recommendations);
• Building cultural capability (five recommendations);
• Improving integration of services between CYF and other agencies (three recommendations);
• Strengthening partnerships and networks (four recommendations);
• Improving the physical environment in residences (two recommendations); and

Other recommendations relating to operational systems and processes (11 recommendations).

For this report, we have reviewed all our individual recommendations within the context of the themes emerging from our monitoring findings, our engagement with children, and the available data about children’s outcomes. From this review, we have developed a set of seven aggregated, future-oriented recommendations that we believe will help address shortcomings in the current system and improve children’s outcomes in future.

Aggregated recommendations, in brief, are:
1. Set clear expectations about CYF’s core purpose and the outcomes it needs to achieve;
2. Ensure CYF is fully child-centred in all its activities;
3. Invest more in on-going support for children in all types of care placements;
4. Address capacity and capability issues across the CYF workforce;
5. Improve cultural capability across the organisation;
6. Collect and analyse relevant data to drive improved outcomes for children; and
7. Set clear expectations for other state agencies responsible for improving the outcomes of children in care.

PDF: State of Care

Why is Max Key in the news?

He shouldn’t be.

What next? Journalists’ families fair game? No, they shouldn’t be either.

Vance on Sabin

Andrea Vance indicates that the media knows the story behind Mike Sabin’s resignation but can’t tell it in Five unanswered questions from the Beehive (but some of her questions aren’t really Beehive questions):

3. Does a politician ever really step down for family reasons?

In Russel Norman’s case: it’s complicated.

In Mike Sabin’s case it’s even more complicated.

All Sabin has indicated was ‘personal reasons’ via a press release: “Mr Sabin said he had decided to resign due to personal issues that were best dealt with outside Parliament.”

John Key, who should by now know most of what it’s about, said:

“Mr Sabin reached that conclusion himself on the back of personal and family reasons he is pursuing.

“He’s obviously made the best decision for himself and his family.”

In what looks like one of the worst kept secrets ever it is widely believed that Sabin has now been been charged of an offence or offences by police and has made a court appearance.

4. Why was the usually loquacious Key acting so weird on Sabin?

Like I said, it’s complicated. When a job is a stake, natural justice is always a consideration. That is less easy to hide behind when an MP is at the centre of a police investigation. Key clearly didn’t want to be anywhere near this damaging scandal and all but threw Sabin under the bus with his taciturnity. Less than 24 hours before the resignation, Key told reporters Sabin would be at a Tuesday caucus meeting – suggesting that behind the scenes things weren’t under control in the way he would have liked.

Key shouldn’t have had a police matter under control, and he was bound by principles of natural justice and confidentiality.

The whole issue will not be something Key will have liked at all. But as a party leader you often have to deal with things largely outside your control, including MPs getting into trouble in their private lives.

I suspect that if a colleague of Vance’s got into trouble like Sabin appears to have she or her boss wouldn’t have much control over it either, and I also suspect they would be very careful about what they said about it. Probably more careful and less critical than they are with Sabin’s case.

But on Sabin the media have let out enough information and hints over the last six weeks to enable us to have a good guess about what is going on.

Sabin was under police investigation, it was serious enough to use an investigation team outside Sabin’s home province and old workplace (he is an ex Northland detective) and is likely to have now been charged over something serious that appears to be family related.

“God, country and family”

A lot of attention is being given to the movie American Sniper. It shows the awfulness of war and the difficulty with returning to home and family.

In New film American Sniper paints Chris Kyle as a hero, but the true story is not so simple an interesting comment is quoted of the real life sniper, Chris Kyle.

He lists his priorities as “God, country and family” in that order.

That’s in the wrong order for me, and I don’t do the god bit – I can’t fathom how someone could put a deity before their family.

I’d almost always put myself and my family first. Sure I try and do something for the country but it’s a “if i can’ rather than an essential priority.

I haven’t had to consider ‘fighting for my country’ like my father, uncles and grandfathers did. I think I would have joined up in those days, but I’ve been very lucky to never been put in that position.

But the welfare of my family would remaion foremost in my mind.

Wikipedia on Chris Kyle (he was killed by ‘friendly’ fire after he returned to Texas).

Family Violence data

There has been a lot of debate on violence since David Cunliffe released Labour’s anti-violence policy yesterday. Cunliffe started his speech by saying:

‘‘Can I begin by saying I’m sorry – I don’t often say it – I’m sorry for being a man, right now. Because family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children,’’ he said.

Labour’s media release said:

Labour will take decisive and far-reaching action to address violence against women and children, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe.

Questions have been asked about why Cunliffe has apologised as a man and why Labour have solely targeted violence against women and children.

More men than women are more violent but aren’t solely responsible for violence. (It should be noted that violence outside of family violence is far more often male versus male).

Here is the latest data summary from the New Zealand Family Violence Clearing House.

Data Summaries 2013: Snapshot

This snapshot is drawn from the five NZFVC 2013 Data Summaries. Refer to the Data Summaries for definitions and caveats on the data below.

Family violence

  • In 2012, there were 87,622 family violence investigations by NZ Police. 101,293 children were linked to these investigations.[1]
  • In 2011, 4064 applications were made for protection orders:

–          2776 (91%) were made by women and 230 (8%) by men

–          2655 (88%) of respondents were men and 321 (11%) women.[2]

  • In 2011, there were 7896recorded male assaults female offences and 5232 recorded offences for breaching a protection order.2
  • In 2011/12, Women’s Refuges affiliated to the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges received 85,794 crisis calls. 8930 women and 7005 children accessed advocacy services in the community. 2273 women and 1424 children stayed in safe houses.[3]
  • 1 in 3 (35.4%) ever-partnered New Zealand women report having experienced physical and/or sexual IPV in their lifetime. When psychological/emotional abuse is included, 55% report having experienced IPV in their lifetime. In the 12 months prior to the survey, 5.2% had experiencedphysical and/or sexual IPV. When psychological/emotional abuse was included, 18.2% had experienced one or more forms of IPV.[4]
  • In 2011, NZ Police recorded 11 homicides by an intimate partner. 9 of the victims were women and 2 were men.[5]
  • 16.8% of New Zealand women report having experienced sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime; 2% in the last 12 months.4
  • In 2011, there were 1,575 reported sexual offences against an adult over 16 years.1
  • In 2011/12, Child, Youth and Family received 152,800 reports of concern. 61,074 were deemed to require further action, leading to 21,525 findings of abuse or neglect. 3884 children were in care placements.[7]
  • In 2011, NZ Police recorded 12 homicides of children and young people under 20 by a family member.5 In 2011, 113 children and youth were hospitalised for a serious non-fatal assault perpetrated by a family member.[8]
  • Between 1 in 3[9] and 1 in 5[10] New Zealand women and 1 in 109 men report having experienced child sexual abuse. 1 in 5 female and 1 in 20 male secondary school students report having experienced unwanted sexual contact in the last 12 months.[11]
  • In 2011, there were 1856 reported sexual offences against a child under 16 years.1
  • 10% of secondary school students report witnessing adults at home hitting or physically hurting each other once or more in the last year.11

Intimate partner violence (IPV)

Adult sexual assault

  • 29% of New Zealand women and 9% of men report having experienced sexual assault in their lifetime. 73% of these assaults against women and 54% of these assaults against men were perpetrated by a partner, ex-partner or other family member.[6]

Children and young people

  • In 2011/12, Child, Youth and Family received 152,800 reports of concern. 61,074 were deemed to require further action, leading to 21,525 findings of abuse or neglect. 3884 children were in care placements.[1]
  • In 2011, NZ Police recorded 12 homicides of children and young people under 20 by a family member.5 In 2011, 113 children and youth were hospitalised for a serious non-fatal assault perpetrated by a family member.[2]
  • Between 1 in 3[3] and 1 in 5[4] New Zealand women and 1 in 109 men report having experienced child sexual abuse. 1 in 5 female and 1 in 20 male secondary school students report having experienced unwanted sexual contact in the last 12 months.[5]
  • In 2011, there were 1856 reported sexual offences against a child under 16 years.1
  • 10% of secondary school students report witnessing adults at home hitting or physically hurting each other once or more in the last year.11


[1]Child, Youth and Family. (2013). Retrieved June 2013, from http://www.cyf.govt.nz/about-us/who-we-are-what-we-do/information-for-media.html

[2] National Health Board Business Unit. (2011). National minimum dataset (Hospital events): Data Dictionary. Wellington: Ministry of Health.

[3]van Roode, T, Dickson, N, Herbison, P, Paul, C. (2009). Child sexual abuse and persistence of risky sexual behaviors and negative sexual outcomes over adulthood: Findings from a birth cohort. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33,161–172.

[4]Fanslow, JL, Robinson, EM, Crengle, S, Perese, L. (2007). Prevalence of child sexual abuse reported by a cross-sectional sample of New Zealand women. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 935–945.

[5]Clark, TC., Robinson, E., Crengle, S., Grant, S., Galbreath, RA. & Sykora, J. (2009). Youth ’07: The Health and Wellbeing of Secondary School Students in New Zealand. Findings on Young People and Violence. Auckland: The University of Auckland. Retrieved June 2013, from http://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/faculty/ahrg/_docs/2007-violence-report-2010a.pdf

[1]New Zealand Police. (2013). Customised data extract

[2]Ministry of Justice (2013, February). [District and Family Court Data: Personal Communication].

[3] National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges. (2012). Annual Report: July 2011–June 2012. Wellington: NCIWR. Retrieved June 2013, from https://womensrefuge.org.nz/users/Image/Downloads/PDFs/NWR_Annual_Report_2012_WEB.pdf

[4] Fanslow, JL et al. (2011). Sticks, Stones, or Words? Counting the Prevalence of Different Types of Intimate Partner Violence Reported by New Zealand Women. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 20, 741–759.

[5] New Zealand Police. (2011). Homicide Victims Report, 2011. Retrieved February 2013, from https://www.police.govt.nz/statistics/2011/calendar

[6] Mayhew, P. Reilly, JL. (2009). The New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey. In Family Violence Statistics Report. Wellington: Families Commission, August. Retrieved June 2013, from http://www.familiescommission.org.nz/sites/default/files/downloads/family-violence-statistics-report.pdf

[7]Child, Youth and Family. (2013). Retrieved June 2013, from http://www.cyf.govt.nz/about-us/who-we-are-what-we-do/information-for-media.html

[8] National Health Board Business Unit. (2011). National minimum dataset (Hospital events): Data Dictionary. Wellington: Ministry of Health.

[9]van Roode, T, Dickson, N, Herbison, P, Paul, C. (2009). Child sexual abuse and persistence of risky sexual behaviors and negative sexual outcomes over adulthood: Findings from a birth cohort. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33,161–172.

[10]Fanslow, JL, Robinson, EM, Crengle, S, Perese, L. (2007). Prevalence of child sexual abuse reported by a cross-sectional sample of New Zealand women. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 935–945.

[11]Clark, TC., Robinson, E., Crengle, S., Grant, S., Galbreath, RA. & Sykora, J. (2009). Youth ’07: The Health and Wellbeing of Secondary School Students in New Zealand. Findings on Young People and Violence. Auckland: The University of Auckland. Retrieved June 2013, from http://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/faculty/ahrg/_docs/2007-violence-report-2010a.pdf


Holly Walker and parents in Parliament

Holly Walker has announced she is withdrawing from the Green Party list citing family reasons, although still plans on standing for the Hutt South electorate to campaign for the party vote.

This means she is withdrawing as an MP unless the unlikely happens and she beats Trevor Mallard and Chris Bishop against her wishes.

Green Party MP Holly Walker to step down from party list

Green Party MP Holly Walker has decided to withdraw from the party’s list in the upcoming election and will not seek a second term in Parliament. Ms Walker was number 12 on the Green Party list.

“Unfortunately, a recent unexpected change in my family life has made it very difficult for me to continue as a Green MP. Under these circumstances, I have chosen to put my family first and withdraw myself from the Green Party list,” said Ms Walker,

“It has been extremely rewarding to combine parenting and politics, and a challenge I have enjoyed. Unfortunately, a recent unexpected change in my family life has made it very difficult for me to continue.

“Even with great support from the Green Party and colleagues, changes in my family life meant I would not have been able to do justice to my role as an MP. Under these circumstances, I have chosen to put my family first.”

Walker makes it clear several times she is putting her family first. She had a baby last October.

Regardless of her specific family circumstances – I don’t know if there is any more to this than just the conflict in priorities – this isn’t surprising. When it became known yesterday that a Green MP was withdrawing she was the first one who came to mind.

When Walker became an MP she showed signs of struggling with the aggressive nature of Parliamentary politics. It will have been a major culture shock. Within the Green Party it is a very supportive team environment with a lot of mutual back patting and praise of their people and policies.

To then be exposed to combative politics where extreme criticism and personal attacks are not uncommon it would take some adjusting to. Some new MPs never do settle in and choose not to stay.

Add parenthood to that and any mother or father would question their priorities.

While praise has been heaped on Walker’s efforts as an MP it’s worth noting that she got into Parliament at 12 on the Green list – which was  a doubtful position, they only had nine MPs in the prior term – she was placed in the same position in this year’s list.

I got involved in some discussion yesterday on Twitter about the lack of support for working parents in Parliament. This was obviously seen as a factor in Walker’s decision.

The job of an MP is very demanding, as is that of a parent. I think most people considering a possible Parliamentary career will weigh up the likely impact on their family. And many will keep assessing whether Parliament is a place the want to be.

David Garrett , Act MP in the 2008-11 term, cites the exposure of his family to extreme media pressure as a reason for giving up his seat.

Labour activist Stephanie Rodgers raised the issue of lack of assistance for parents in Parliament.


What does @hollyrwalker’s resignation tell us about how accessible/accommodating working in Parliament is for parents of young children?

Shorter sitting hours. Greater flexibility for parents to not be in the House at all hours. A 24/7 creche

I suggested that there were no easy solutions. Rodgers accused:

I have the sense Pete has a fundamental opposition to change. Any change.

That’s wrong. If things can reasonably be made easier for MP parents I’d support that, but to what extent should MPs get special treatment? And would it make enough difference?

Many occupations are difficult to balance with parenting, especially where babies are involved. I doubt there are many workplaces that provide 24/7 creches. Airline pilots and stewards have no choice.

Shorter work hours can be  arranged in some occupations, but with many it’s difficult, for example doctors, nurses, police, fire, teachers.

Some can have job share arrangements but positions of elected representatives poses unique problems. There is no provision for being a part time MP.

And it’s not just facilities at Parliament that are a problem. MPs do a lot of their work outside Parliament. Travel around the country is often required.

There may be some things that can be changed to help Parliamentary parents but the options are limited.

When people put themselves forward to be elected they should know the demands of the job. If people plan to have a family while working they must know there may be compromises necessary. And sometimes, probably quite often, choices have to be made as to whether the work is compatible with parenting.

Walker has chosen to give priority to her family situation, as many parents do.

There may have been nothing that could have been provided to help her enough in Parliament to have changed this decision.

Greens would normally campaign for something if they thought it would make a difference. I don’t know if they have tried to make things easier for Walker’s dual responsibilities, or if they have simply accepted her decision.

Sometimes – often – parents simply put their family first when there are no easy alternatives.

From Facebook:

Donnelle Belanger-Taylor I’ve followed her posts about combining parenting a young child and the huge work demands. Good thoughts to her.

Tara Moala Gutted, but completely understand and appreciate putting Whanau first.

It was Walker’s choice to stand for Parliament, and her choice to stand down. Most will understand her likely reasons.