Councillor urges trial for proposal
Government proposals to reduce child abuse in New Zealand are perfect to be trialled in a small community such as Marlborough, says Marlborough District councillor Jessica Bagge.
Ms Bagge was speaking in response to the meeting about the White Paper for Vulnerable Children, hosted by Kaikoura electorate MP Colin King and National Party list MP Cam Calder in Blenheim last week.
The Government's White Paper is aimed at reducing child abuse.
Ms Bagge said Marlborough's small and well-connected community meant it was the perfect place to trial many of the proposals put forward by the Government in reducing child abuse.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's visit to Blenheim last year, following the release of the earlier Green Paper on Vulnerable Children, led to the formation of the Marlborough Initiative made up of representatives from government agencies and community groups, Ms Bagge said.
From the informal forums she attended alongside these organisations, which included Maata Waka, Bread of Life, Rural Women New Zealand, Marlborough Primary Health Organisation and Child Youth and Family, Ms Bagge saw firsthand the passionate and like-minded people in the region working well together to tackle the problem of child abuse.
The forums focused on education and better ways of working in with different organisations to achieve the best outcome for families.
The Government's proposals to reduce the number of vulnerable children, such as establishing a secure central database for access by authorities and educating and training all teachers and hospital staff by 2015 to identify signs of abuse, were "on the right track", Ms Bagge said.
"How they deliver it will be the interesting part," she said.
"That's where Marlborough can step up and take on that role and say we agree with what you're trying to achieve, and this is what we can do to help you achieve it."
However, there were still unknowns about a few of the Government's proposals, especially as they were removing mandatory reporting of child abuse.
"It's absolutely crucial to share that information," Ms Bagge said. "If it's not compulsory or mandatory to share the information, how will it make a difference?"
The Marlborough Initiative meets every two months at the Marlborough District Council.
The Marlborough Express