Aim to end abuse, neglect of children

Child, Youth and Family Otago-Southland operations manager Colleen Coop wants to lower neglect...
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 Board.

''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 last year.''

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 people.

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 community.''

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 problem.''

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.''


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