Holly Walker blogs at Frog Blog:
The release of these studies comes while Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is in the middle of an intensive road trip consulting on her Green Paper for Vulnerable Children. She was in my town, Lower Hutt, last night, and in Whangarei earlier this week while I was there. From local reports, it sounds like the consultation process has been somewhat fraught, with locals in Whangarei frustrated that the Minister wasn’t open to hearing from people directly, insisting instead that they “put it in a submission“. Nevertheless I applaud the proactive way that the Government has approached the task of consulting on the Green Paper – they’ve really gone all out with meetings, websites, social media, and NGO engagement. Submissions close on 28 February and I do encourage you to make one.
It’s good that Holly is encouraging submissions, and encouraging participation in the process.
I’ve heard from those who were at the Lower Hutt meeting last night that the cost of living and inequality were are major theme of responses from the audience, but that the Minister’s focus was very much on reporting and information-sharing. …
I don’t accept that child abuse is just about child poverty and inequality. There are Asian countries with much greater poverty and inequality that have almost no child abuse.
While I commend Holly for her post, and promoting the green paper consultation, could I suggest MPs “eat their own dogfood” so to speak. Rather than rely on third hand reports of what was said at a local meeting, I would hope local MPs would go along and attend.
I understand there were 150 people at the meeting in Lower Hutt, including six National MPs. Labour and other parties have been calling for a bi-partisan approach to child abuse. So I would have though local MPs would go along to hear what their communities are saying. But none on non-National MP attended – despite all being invited.
I think it would be of more importance than a Frocks on Bike bike maintenance workshop. Frocks on Bikes is a commendable initiative, but I do think it is a pity none of the local MPs actually attended the meeting, and heard first hand what people were saying. I recall Metiria Turei attending the launch of the green paper, which was commendable.
I don’t think you can declare an issue will be bi-partisan or non-partisan as different parties have genuinely different beliefs on how to reduce child abuse. National will believe their welfare reforms will help reduce child abuse, while the Greens will disagree (for example). But despite those differences in beliefs, there is no reasons people can’t take part in the process, and have their views heard. I do not believe the Government in any way has pre-determined outcomes on this review. There are no easy solutions, so whatever decisions do eventually get made will inevitably upset some segments of the community.
UPDATE: Holly has commented below, explaining she was running the session she attended and had agreed to do so back in November. But she did send her EA to take notes.