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Q Some have been confused by your announcement that Stand will try to reinstate wrap-around village services in the South, when the Roxburgh facility is scheduled to close on June 29. Is Stand genuine in its desire to keep the Roxburgh village open?
If the funding required to keep the village open had been available we would have continued providing the trauma-focused treatment service from the Roxburgh Children’s Village. There is a real and important need in the region for effective trauma-focused treatment for children who have experienced traumatic stress. We will continue to advocate for this work and these families, and if funding is made available in the future we will reinstate this service.
Q Has the age of the Roxburgh facility contributed to the decision to close it?
The Roxburgh village facility has been open since the 1940s and although the setting is therapeutic and tranquil, the buildings are not as home-like and fit for our current purpose as our other facilities. We have imagined a fit-for-purpose children’s village in the future to service the needs of the Otago-Southland region’s children. It is still our intention, if we can secure certainty of funding in the future, to make that happen. If the Stand board did decide in the future to consider relocating the children’s village, this would involve consultation with iwi, the community and staff. Our focus now is on making a case for reinstating this much needed service at Roxburgh. In the meantime we will continue to maintain the buildings and the grounds.
The government pays Stand approximately $250 per day per child for the children’s village service. With this we have to be able to provide accommodation, trauma-focused treatment and specialist education and recreation opportunities. A child who learns to trust and hope again, to identify and express emotions, develops the capacity to self-regulate, and understand they matter and have value . . . The problem of toxic stress in childhood cannot be fixed without the community understanding that not addressing it burdens society and everyone is susceptible to its effects.
Q Are parents helped by the Stand service, as well as children?
The Stand Children’s Village is a "treatment family model" and a place of hope for children and parents who have been through hard times and experienced difficult and harmful events and circumstances. Intergenerational trauma is a common circumstance for families that Stand supports. Stand provides help to these parents to improve on or learn new ways of parenting and being a family.
The report did highlight the difficulties of recruiting and retaining staff and Stand implemented innovative ways to manage these tensions as a result of the report. Stand provides an integrated therapeutic care and education intervention which enables the treatment of toxic stress — it requires timely intervention, and goals are to decrease stressors and the child’s response to stressors, to minimise their vulnerability, and to strengthen their resiliency, enabling children to be school-ready. Stand is not part of the state school system. Stand employs registered teachers and is an approved educational institution for the purposes of teacher certification under section 348 of the Education Act 1989.
Staff turnover nationally for the year ending July 2017 was over 40%. Auckland was the highest with over 60% turnover and Roxburgh the second highest with over 50% turnover. A high percentage of this turnover was registered staff who were leaving for higher salaries.
A crucial pay increase to our staff was prioritised this year to ensure we could retain quality staff and provide them with a salary range that reflects their value.
Until this year, Stand’s professional staff were some of the lowest-paid in the social sector and struggling to take care of their own families.
This pay increase began in October 2017 and staff turnover since then at Roxburgh has been 8%.
Q Some readers have contacted us saying they have found discussion about Stand’s services difficult, realising Stand does good work now, but remembering abuse they suffered at the former Roxburgh Health Camp decades ago. Has the Roxburgh facility’s past contributed to its closure?
Ten complaints about mistreatment at the Roxburgh Health Camp and its school beginning in the 1950s and up to 1994 had been made up to last year and these have been resolved.
Since coverage of the issue in the Otago Daily Times last year ... I have dealt with a small number of inquiries and have met and resolved matters positively with those who wished to take this journey.
I have not received any allegations of harm or abuse relating to our services provided from Roxburgh children’s village since I have been the chief executive . I can assure you that the past has not contributed to the decision to close the Roxburgh village.