Youth remand home shock

CYF residence at 1 Will St, Abbotsford, Dunedin. Photo: ODT.
The CYF residence in Abbotsford. Photo: ODT files
Neighbours of a youth remand home set to open in Dunedin say they have been left in the dark about a plan to place youth offenders in their neighbourhood.

They were shocked to find out the Ministry of Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, would open the remand home in Will St, Abbotsford, after reading about it in the Otago Daily Times last week.

In a press release announcing the new facility, Youth Justice Services deputy chief executive Allan Boreham said the ministry had spoken to ``the local community'' about the facility and residents would be updated on developments.

Several residents contacted the Otago Daily Times after the article appeared to say they had not been spoken to by the ministry.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said she had not been invited to participate in any consultation.

The Will St property had been used by Child, Youth and Family to house vulnerable youth until last August and while the resident supported use of the property for that, remanding youth there was ``different''.

``We have got lots of wee kids around here; my concern comes down to their safety. To have a youth remand home is very different to what it used to be.''

The resident was not opposed to the facility, but was ``annoyed'' about the lack of information.

A Will St resident who had lived there for the past 30 years said they did not oppose the home, but were ``a little bit anxious'' about who might move in.

``Communication about it has been a bit cavalier.''

Twenty-seven households considered ``immediate neighbours'' had received hand-delivered invitations to a meeting last month, Mr Boreham said.

Seven people attended the meeting.

Two residents of the street spoken to by the ODT said they had not been invited.

``We are aware that some people who are not considered to be immediate neighbours also have questions about the use of Will St,'' Mr Boreham said.

Those residents would be invited to a meeting tomorrow.

Offenders placed in the home would be assessed by professionals to ensure they were suitable to be housed there.

Young people placed in the home would be placed there because their own homes had been deemed unsafe, Mr Boreham said.

``We ask that the Dunedin community support us in helping these young people, who are going through the toughest time in their lives.''


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