Child, Youth and Family Otago-Southland operations manager
Colleen Coop wants to lower neglect and abuse statistics in
Otago and Southland. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
A Dunedin woman wants vulnerable children in Otago and
Southland to be free from abuse and neglect so they can reach
their full potential.
Child, Youth and Family Otago-Southland operations manager Dr
Colleen Coop said she had been in the role for about six
weeks, after finishing work at the Southern District Health
''I had a number of positions there. Most recently it was the
general manager of emergency medicine and surgeries for
Otago, but there was a big restructuring towards the end of
She worked for the health board for 20 years but started
looking for a new challenge when the restructuring phase
began, Dr Coop said.
She had masters degrees in public management and in public
policy, which instilled an ''intense interest'' in the
provision of publicly funded social services to vulnerable
However, the work at the health board and CYF were similar in
many ways, she said.
''The taxpayers want accountability, they want good and
better public services, you have to improve, innovate and do
more with less, you have to empower your staff and work with
The increasing notification statistics on neglect and abuse
in New Zealand were ''disgraceful,'' Dr Coop said.
However, the statistics could have risen because more people
were reporting abuse.
''But no matter what way you look at, New Zealand's got a
Every New Zealander needed to recognise that the neglect and
abuse was a New Zealand issue and everybody had to take
responsibility to lower the statistics.
There were more than 150,000 care and protection
notifications for youth, 17 years and under, in New Zealand
last year, and Otago and Southland was following the upward
trend of notifications, Dr Coop said.
''A child that is vulnerable is more likely to have health
issues and education issues, because their schooling is
disrupted ... there's nothing worse than wasted potential.
''When you interrupt a child's basic needs, or abuse them,
you're interrupting that growth cycle and they are never
going to get that back.''