Eastern Courier : February 23rd 2011
19 EASTERN COURIER, FEBRUARY 23, 2011 NEWS They want action -- not just words Widespread, deep concern over the plight and fate of abused children goes on. Readers are worried that the issue draws words from ministers but no answers as this sample of a week s letters shows: I have taught in hard inner city schools, in prison, in a behavioural unit for students removed from nor- mal schools, as well as many years in normal schools. Before teaching I studied at Oxford, did two years National Service in the British army -- after basic training (did I learn a lot!) I was drafted to a secret intel- ligence unit -- then nine years research in industry. I grew up in a poor area in Sheffield, England, rubbing shoulders with criminal families daily. In the behavioural unit were two girls, one 12 the other 13, whose nightly activities centred on moneyed 25-year-old men -- they toyed with the teenage boys in the unit with obvious results. We checked an older boy daily for bruising or worse -- his father was a gentleman when sober but an animal drunk. The boy was unable to settle down to work until he had elicited a physical response from us, his two teachers. Another older boy had five brothers all by different fathers -- mum used to go to down to the pub tarted up, come back with a man, nine months later, another baby. What chance did these students have to lead a nor- mal life? My heart still bleeds to think about them, 30 years on. When Paula was appointed my heart leapt -- here was someone who would understand the problem, at least, and maybe do some- thing about it -- if she was allowed to. So I got in touch with her west Auckland office to see her and offer my help. Ihitabrickwall.SoIgotin touch with her ministerial office -- ditto. I gave up -- waiting for the tide to change, if ever. Now seems an opportune moment to have another go at this mammoth task. The biggest problem seems to me to be that politicians need results in under three years -- get back in power at all costs. (Paula likely has more sense but is not likely to show it.) -- Bill Sorby (MA Oxon) We are a couple in our 70s and 80s. We still work when we can since our professions were not well-paid. We live in a two-room house, have a 20-year-old TV and a 13-year- old car. We don t smoke, have an occasional glass of wine, an occasional meal out but can t afford holidays. We paid for our children s education and for our own healthcare until insurance charges became too high as we got older. Since he s self- employed, my husband pays the ACC levies of $1400 a year. But when he fell recently, breaking a tooth, ACC refused to pay for treat- ment saying the broken tooth was age-related deterio- ration . In contrast, I read about Mrs Nathan who has six chil- dren, the eldest in care, and I realise we are working to support that child and the other five. I read about a des- perate woman needing a house because she s going to be evicted, who had her first child taken by CYFS, and has had three more since, with dreadful health problems, also on a benefit. But in the background of the photo is a huge flat screen TV, which we could never afford, even if we wanted one. I supported the introduc- tion of DPB in 1974 when women whose husbands left them had no support. Unmar- ried mothers (as they were called in those days) could apply for a benefit of $28 a week if they were breastfeed- ing and this was paid for the first four months. So we had a very high rate of adoption. But I never visualised then that women would just receive the benefit as a hand- out -- I assumed that there would have been a contract with mothers learning parenting skills while the state supported them. I also assumed that the DPB was to help unmarried mothers keep their child instead of adopting it. I never visualised that women would go on having children, expecting the state -- ie, people like us -- to support them indefinitely. So I hear of cases like a woman whose partner left her with three children, hitching up with a man with four children. They had three more children between them, so the whole 10, plus parents, are on benefits. The house- hold where the tragic Kahui twins died was a case in point. No one wants to bash solo parents . I ve been one myself. For many, the DPB is the life- line which gives women time to cope with life after divorce or separation before getting back into the workforce. And, yes, jobs are hard to find today. But that s no reason to have another baby as some seem to do. When people on our lim- ited resources are paying to support other people who do not take responsibility for either their contraception or their lives, something seems wrong. I know experts in child poverty find this sort of view- point unhelpful. But do they have any answers for people like us, paying our taxes and our rates and trying to make our own ends meet, as well as supporting the growing army of people having children they cannot afford and often don t know how to parent lov- ingly? -- Name provided I wonder if any minister ever did something other than set up an inquiry and get someone else to do the work as is happening with Paula Bennett and the cur- rent baby death. After it s fin- ished (if ever) what will hap- pen to it? Talk some more and wait for the next abuse/ death to happen? Very sad. -- David Stewart, Birkdale In your column Paula wants action -- so do we , Miss Bennett was appalled at the abuse New Zealand children suffer. But this government is hypocritical in dealing with this serious problem. It scrapped the need for childcare workers creches (gyms, shopping centres, etc ) to undertake police checks. Labour Minister Anne Tolley referred to Mr Mallard as hysterical when he suggested that convicted paedophiles would be given access to children through employment in creches. I wonder if Miss Tolley realises that it will be her responsibility if a child is abused in a creche as a result. This government decided those creches are part-time, temporary, and it is not appropriate to have them covered under the Education Act, but under the Health and Safety in Employment Act which means providers are obliged to provide a safe environment for children . What this means is unclear and depends on the interpretation of each centre. So shall we leave the safety of our children to the goodwill of each centre man- ager? Surely a safe environ- ment for children is one with- out ex-convicts or child abusers. Members of this gov- ernment, rather than saying how appalled they are at child abuse, should do some- thing about it. -- A Pouwels, Mangere Brad's a dad on a mission My girl: Brad Clark, the new chief executive at Starship Foundation, is also settling into his role as father to Kaitlin. Photo: BEN WATSON By SARAH CODDINGTON Little Kaitlin has only been in this world for 12 weeks but has already inspired her father to take on a new job. Brad Clark, who is the new Starship Foundation chief executive, saw the role advertised and knew he had to apply for it. And his first child with wife Nicky was one of the major factors behind his decision. You walk through the paediatric intensive care unit and your heart just melts, seeing these little babies hooked up to every tube imaginable. Your heart goes out to the parents. If anything happened to little Kaitlin I would know she had the best care, he says. Mr Clark hopes he can help keep New Zealand s biggest children s hospital moving forward in the right direction to provide top care for its patients. One of the biggest projects he will be undertaking is fundraising for the level six ward for neurosurgery and neurological disorders. More than 2000 young patients are admitted to the ward each year. Their medical needs are met but overall care is at a basic level because of poor configuration of beds and services within the ward. Hospitals around the world are moving towards a new era of medical treatment that looks to address the medical, social and emotional needs of the patients. Mr Clark comes from a marketing and promotions background and he was the general manager at CanTeen, an organisation that supports young people living with can- cer. He has also worked for the Royal New Zealand Foun- dation of the Blind. It is not until you get into non-profit organisations that you realise the good you are contributing to in society, he says. Mr Clark was a familiar face in Takapuna as the Takapuna Beach Business Association general manager back in 2005. As a former general man- ager and local resident it is exciting to see development taking place in Takapuna towards building a hub for the North Shore, Mr Clark says. He has lived in North Shore since he moved from Canada 18 years ago. Donate to the level six rebuild project at the website at www.starship.org.nz/ donation.
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