26 Aug 2011

State should not interfere with 'good families' says Commissioner

4:46 pm on 26 August 2011

A Families Commissioner, Christine Rankin, says the state cannot afford and should not need to monitor every child for signs of abuse.

Rotorua Coroner Wallace Bain issued his report on the murder of Nia Glassie on Thursday, calling for state registration and monitoring of all children under five and compulsory oversight of single parents who are beneficiaries.

But Ms Rankin believes the suggestion is going too far.

"The vast majority of New Zealand children are very well cared for. We've got a problem group of families that need a lot of help to turn this situation around and they're the ones that we need to put the resources into," she says.

"This is a little country, we haven't got the money and neither should we be interfering with good families."

Three year old Nia died of brain injuries at Starship hospital, Auckland, in August 2007. Five people were sentenced to prison over her death.

Kohanga Reo Trust Board member Iritana Tawhiwhirangi says making struggling families feel like they are being targetted would backfire, as they would simply kick visitors out and avoid help.

Women's Refuge chief executive Heather Henare agrees that ensuring parents of new-borns get the support they need is more crucial than monitoring them.

Plunket says it already visits 90% of newborn babies, but says the wider community also has to take some responsibility.

Child Matters chief executive Anthea Simcock says priority should be given to improving the training offered to doctors, social workers and people in other health agencies.