• Peter Gresham
Social Welfare

The Minister of Social Welfare, Hon. Peter Gresham, said he was concerned that an 0800 complaints number being set up by the Maori Social Services Providers Association would confuse and mislead the public about where to report child abuse.

"In talking to their media release about acting and acting now on child abuse, the Maori Social Service Providers Association leave the impression that their complaints line might be a child abuse help line.

"I urge anyone who wishes to report suspected child abuse to report it to their nearest office of the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Service.

"The Service will respond and respond quickly to serious cases of abuse.

"The Service has strict protocols governing response to notifications, which ensures that urgent matters are prioritised.

"If however, people have legitimate complaints about the standard of service being provided by CYPFS, there are many official avenues to lay complaints. In the first instance, the public should raise their concerns with their local office. If they receive insufficient satisfaction then a complaint can be laid with the National Office of the Service, or the Director General of Social Welfare in Wellington.

"Matters can also be raised with local Members of Parliament, the Office of the Commissioner for Children, the Ombudsman, or myself as Minister of Social Welfare.

"Establishing an informal phone line to record anecdotal complaints against the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Service by everyone with an axe to grind is a waste of time and energy and funds that could be better used in providing services.

"If as Maori Service Providers Association says, all calls and any information gathered through their 0800 number will be totally confidential, then there seems little point in the exercise other than as a gimmick to generate publicity.

"The Children, Young Persons and Their Families Service, deals with 25,000 notifications annually, and there are very few actions from these which result in complaints. Considering the contentious nature of the area they operate in, this is an excellent record," said Mr Gresham.