Media Release 29 March 2011
A poll has found significant support for an independent watchdog for Child Youth and Family (CYF), and Family First NZ believes that politicians will know from anecdotal evidence that a watchdog is warranted.
In the poll of 1,000 people undertaken by Curia Market Research this month, respondents were asked “Do you think the Government should establish an independent Complaints Authority similar to the Independent Police Complaints Authority to hear complaints about Child Youth and Family (CYF) from families who feel they have been unfairly treated by Child Youth and Family?”
65% said yes, 20% said no, and the remainder (14%) were either unsure or refused to answer. Interestingly, younger respondents were most supportive of an independent complaints authority – possibly because they were either young parents or potential parents. Male and female support was evenly split.
“Family First is being regularly contacted by families who claim to have been unfairly treated by CYF social workers – yet they have no independent body to appeal to,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Their only option is a costly court process where CYF have an unlimited pool of resources to defend its actions, courtesy of the taxpayer. This is grossly unfair when families are being ripped apart, often based on the subjective judgment of a social worker.”
“Social workers should not feel threatened by this poll. An independent watchdog is in the best interests of social workers as it will provide an independent body to ensure that appropriate policy and procedures have been followed. This will result in public confidence in their important work and accountability for actions and decisions.”
“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,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“The Advisory Panel adopted by the Ministry of Social Development in 2008 is not well known due to minimal public awareness, and has the inherent flaw of not being independent.”
Family First is calling on politicians, the majority who will have received anecdotal evidence of claims of unfair treatment by CYF, to support the urgent establishment of an independent CYF Complaint Authority.
The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%