Call to boost Plunket funds

SONIA BEAL
Last updated 14:00 21/11/2012
Taking a stand
Scott Hammond

Making a stand: Jude Humphrey,centre, of caregiver support provider Awhi Tamariki,says she wants early childhood education providers and welfare organisations in Marlborough to work together to help reduce the number of vulnerable children

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New mothers need compulsory support after giving birth to avoid putting their child in a dangerous situation, a Blenheim caregiver support provider says.

Jude Humphrey, of Awhi Tamariki Caregiver Support Marlborough, was speaking at a meeting hosted by Kaikoura electorate MP Colin King and National Party list MP Cam Calder on the White Paper for Vulnerable Children.

The Government's white paper is aimed at reducing child abuse.

Ms Humphrey said Plunket needed more funding to take on a bigger role for helping new mothers.

Murmurs of agreement around the room followed another comment that many young mothers were clueless about caring for, or bonding with their baby.

"Plunket isn't even compulsory any more," Ms Humphrey said.

"If these young mothers, for whatever reason, don't know how to access this service, the service needs to come to them."

About 80 people were at the meeting yesterday morning at the Wesley Centre in Blenheim, including representatives of early childhood education providers and welfare organisations such as Barnardo's, Presbyterian Support, Strengthening Families and Child Youth and Family.

Dr Calder, who is a member of the health and justice select committees, said he was pleased people were taking ownership of dealing with child abuse.

The Green Paper on Vulnerable Children had attracted 10,000 submissions.

Last year, Child Youth and Family received more than 150,000 notifications of possible abuse and 21,000 of those were substantiated, he said.

The of 1400 notifications in Blenheim, 116 were substantiated, including 16 reports of physical and 13 of sexual abuse.

"In an ideal world, all of our kiddies would be loved and supported, but sadly that isn't the case," Dr Calder said.

"We have a White Paper for Vulnerable Children because we believe we can protect these children."

Setting up a secure central database on vulnerable children accessed by authorities such as school principals, and educating and training all teachers and hospital staff by 2015 to identify signs of abuse were among the Government's priorities to decrease the number of vulnerable children, Dr Calder said.

Extending parental leave and financial help to grandparents who raised vulnerable children were also being considered.

At the end of the meeting, Ms Humphrey asked Mr King for his backing to set up regular support meetings for all the providers present yesterday.

"Let's all of us, the people who really care about this issue, get together and see how we can work out how to find some solutions," she said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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