CYF staff don't abuse children: Tolley

Anne Tolley
Anne Tolley
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has defended Child, Youth and Family saying staff at the department "are not the ones who beat their kids and neglect these children" in comments she made about a damning report into the handling of the Roast Busters scandal by the agency.

A highly critical review into CYF's involvement in the case was released yesterday, and found a series of failings within the department, chiefly that questioning whether the Roast Busters' behaviour was abuse meant CYF did not properly consider how to care for the young people involved.

The Roast Busters were a group of mainly West Auckland youths who bragged on social media about having sex with drunk and underage girls.

In late 2011 police investigated complaints by teenage girls in relation to alleged offending by some of the Roast Busters. Charges were not laid.

CYF was also involved in responding to concerns about the group after receiving six referrals involving a total of 14 young people.

Following the review, CYF's operations would be improved, including clearer instruction on record-keeping, information-sharing and roles and responsibilities in relation to harmful sexual behaviour and vulnerable teenagers, Ms Tolley said yesterday.

Speaking on Newstalk ZB this morning, Ms Tolley said the review "just highlighted what we suspected was there".

"We certainly hope the big overhaul we're doing will focus more on the young people and less on process. And politicians have to take some responsibility for that. Over the years we have demanded of CYFs that they respond to crisis and we've put resources in to do that, so you end up shaping the response of an organisation."

She added: "I've said all along that we need a system that supports the professionalism of our staff. We've got some fantastic staff, but they need a system that actually allows them to use their judgment, have a good system that then protects them.

"They're not the ones who beat their kids and neglect these children, they're the ones that come in and clean up the mess," she said.

"Too often we put too much emphasis on what they've done and too little on what these negligent parents have done."

The overhaul of the organisation was "not going to be a quick fix", she said.

"It's going to take quite some time, but yes, I'm confident that from what I've seen ... the direction I know they're taking, that it is a major change to the system, and it is really focused and led by the needs of the children."