Select Committee Recommends CYF Complaints Authority

Media Release 30 September 2011
Family First NZ is stoked that the Social Services Committee has just released a report recommending that the Government investigate establishing an independent CYF Complaints Authority.

“We have long been asking for a totally independent Board similar to the Independent Police Complaints Authority,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “We desperately and urgently need an independent body to hear complaints about the highly sensitive nature of intervening in families.”

“An independent CYF Complaints Authority will ensure that appropriate policy and procedures have been followed, will be in the best interests of the social workers, and will result in public confidence and accountability for actions and decisions by CYF workers.”

“Family First is being regularly contacted, and we are certain many of the MP’s on the Select Committee are also, by families who claim to have been unfairly treated by CYF social workers – yet they have no independent body to appeal to. We also hear of many cases where families feel that CYF should have taken action, but haven’t. Their only option is either a costly court process where CYF have an unlimited pool of resources to defend its actions, courtesy of the taxpayer, or trying to get in front of the existing complaints panel.”

The Select Committee acknowledged that ‘people whose complaints reach the Chief Executive’s Advisory Panel have to be persistent to resolve their issues’ and that they were ‘concerned to hear that the ministry does not monitor complainants’ ultimate satisfaction with the process.’

“The Advisory Panel has the inherent flaw of not being independent, and the Chief Executive still has the final decision as to the success of the complaint. The Panel can only make recommendations. This is inappropriate. And it is also grossly unfair when families are being separated, often just based on the subjective judgment of a social worker.”

“There is a Health and Disability Commissioner, a Police Complaints Authority, even a Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal. It is time for a CYF Complaints Authority,” says Mr McCoskrie.

Family First’s Value Your Vote survey of the party leaders released earlier this week found that ACT, Conservative, Green, Mana, NZ First, and United Future parties all supported the establishment of an independent body.