CYF pays out millions for sex abuse

LYN HUMPHREYS AND KIRSTY MCMURRAY
Last updated 05:00 24/08/2012

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Child Youth and Family - the Government department charged with the care and protection of children - has revealed it paid out $4.084 million to 198 children abused while in its care.

As at June 30 this year, there is a total of 1097 complaints alleging historic abuse of children or young people while in CYF care.

CYF revealed the extent of caregiver abuse to the Taranaki Daily News after a man and woman revealed two months ago that they were put in the care of convicted sex offenders when teenagers -and were themselves abused.

One was a Waitara woman given the pseudonym Joanne who, when aged about 16, was sent to live with a Tauranga uncle convicted of a gang rape.

And in 1982, a 14-year-old youth placed under the Department of Social Welfare's supervision for six months, was sent to live with one of New Zealand's worst paedophiles, Peter Robert Jordan.

CYF has apologised to both victims and promised compensation.

The release of the CYF national figures under the Official Information Act of similar abuse allegations have this week confirmed the extent of the abuse.

The Ministry of Social Development director Zoe Griffiths said while it was rare for children and young people to be hurt by CYF caregivers, it did happen.

In "Joanne's" case the ministry believed that CYF responded appropriately when she informed her social worker that her uncle abused her.

She was immediately removed from the home, Ms Griffiths said.

Joanne was supported by CYF to meet with the police sexual abuse team, statements were taken and counselling arranged.

"The ministry understands her anger and distress and will be having more discussions with her about further support we may be able to provide to help her to address what happened."

CYF has set up a review to determine whether procedures were followed for all young people placed informally through the family group conference process, which was what happened to Joanne.

CYF now carried out mandatory police checks on all caregivers and other safety checks, including home visits, Ms Griffiths said.

In 2006, CYF established the Care, Claims and Resolution team which now investigates all claims of abuse in care. Of the 1012 claims it had dealt with, 307 were resolved, while 18 have not been resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant. Payments made to the 198 victims have ranged from $1150 to $80,000.

The average payment was $20,651.

However, the ministry refused to confirm whether it had been approached by any of Jordan's other victims.

Labour's social affairs spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said yesterday New Zealand needed to do much better by the young people who were in state care.

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"Unfortunately, we cannot assume that because a child is removed from a dangerous situation, that they're safe.

"We need to review the way our child protection legislation is working on the ground," she said.

- Taranaki Daily News

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