Government inaction putting children at risk

The Ministry of Social Development has only just begun ‘scoping’ an information sharing arrangement with Police to improve outcomes for Kiwis in emergency housing, despite already having the information it needs, National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“For months we’ve heard police report incidents of violence, intimidation, public urination, drug deals and gang involvement are happening at MSD emergency motels, so it beggars belief Government has just realised Police and MSD should work together to combat this.

“With more than 4000 children in emergency housing the Government should’ve been using all the tools it has to minimise safety risks at emergency housing motels.

“Ministers might well try and blame their departments for belated action, but the Government should be showing leadership given their own inaction is the reason more children are growing up in motels.

“The Government doesn’t seem to see the seriousness of the problem. It was relying on gang members to declare themselves as affiliated to a gang rather than using the Gang Intelligence Centre. What other basic precautions has the Government failed to take after four years?

“MSD already receives information from the Gang Intelligence Centre. Rather than beginning a ‘scoping’ process, the Government should just get on with it and make MSD use this information to keep children out of harm’s way.

“Every day that passes is another day when the risk of staying in emergency housing is greater than it should be.

“For months National have called for simple measures like cohorting to reduce the risks children are exposed to. The Government instead made a few announcements in Rotorua, which means nothing to those living in emergency housing motels throughout New Zealand.

“The Government must stop placing vulnerable families in motels without adequate support or regard to the risks they are exposed to. Leaving more than 4000 children to live in a motel exposed to violence, drug use and gang activity is an utter disgrace.”

You can read the answers to Written Parliamentary Questions here.