Community gathers to farewell children's village

Stand chief executive Fiona Inkpen in front of a crowd of visitors and staff in the main...
Stand chief executive Fiona Inkpen in front of a crowd of visitors and staff in the main courtyard of the Stand Children's Services village as the live-in service shuts its doors. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
After nearly 80 years of service in the community, the Stand Children's Services village in Roxburgh has held its final farewell.

Since 1941, the service provided a residential live-in service to about 40,000 children but was forced to shut its doors, due to lack of government funding.

Yesterday, staff held an open day at the village for the community and staff to say goodbye.

Stand chief executive Fiona Inkpen called the farewell a ``celebration'' of the service but also said there was a ``great sense of loss and grief''.

``It feels like nothing will ever been the same again, like it's a major shift in one sense. On the other hand, it provides an opportunity for us to work even harder to provide evidence of the effectiveness of this type of intervention.

``We're still engaged with all the children and families that we've been working with ... we'll just do it in a different way.

``We're hopeful that, over the next few years, we'll be able to make a case that this type of service is needed in the regions that are losing it, and have the opportunity to re-establish.''

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan called the closure an ``absolute bloody outrage''.

``I'm just heartbroken ... I look at Minister for Children Tracey Martin and I ask her to look herself in the mirror and ask if she has any integrity for what she's done to the children of the South.''

But he was impressed with the staff's resilience.

``Every time I've talked to [staff] I haven't had one person say `I don't know what I'm going to do for a job' ... every single one of them has talked about the help they're not able to get the kids.

``There's a lady I've met who's never had to do a CV in her life because she's worked her whole life in the Roxburgh village.''

Stand Otago-Southland regional operations manager Dwight McDowell will keep his job in Roxburgh, along with four full-timers and two part-timers, but he said the service would not be the same.

``It will take a while to get used to the new reality. We're still focused on providing the best services ... it will mean the [childrens'] journey will take longer.''

Former Stand Roxburgh residential team leader Timea Wells, who had worked at the camp on and off since 1997, called the closure a ``heartbreak'' for families, staff and the community.

She would miss seeing children develop in the village.

``When you watch a child walk in the door with nerves and anxiety, a scared little person, and see them walk on the last day with confidence and pride and a sense of belonging ... it's a privilege.''



Shame on Cadogan for ignoring the evidence that this place was not safe for kids, not showing good outcomes and far too expensive for what it has to offer.
Tim we don't need a populist Mayor we need one who heeds the evidence and bases their comment on rational thinking.

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