Waitakere Mayor disgusted at child well-being ranking

Thursday 3 September 2009, 5:26PM
By Waitakere City Council


Mayor Harvey is “aghast” that New Zealand’s child health and safety figures are among the worst in the OECD.

It was also one of the lowest spenders on young children in the ‘Doing Better for Children’ OECD report, he says.

“Last week I was able to attend the christening of my grandchild – it made me realise again that there is nothing more worthwhile than working for our children.

“It is personally devastating to see that the health and safety of our children is so compromised. It is a black mark on us all in New Zealand.”

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett announced a ‘Never Shake a Baby’ campaign today after the ‘Doing Better for Children’ report release.

The campaign is a start towards getting our child abuse statistics down, says Mayor Harvey.

It complements a Waitemata District Health Board and Plunket backed ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’ initiative already underway in Waitakere.

“Every parent needs to know what it means to shake a baby. Sometimes babies cry inconsolably and you’ve just got to walk away and get some help,” he says.

“It’s great to see Government recognising the permanent brain damage you can inflict on a baby.

“We will be looking to help in any way we can with the ‘Never Shake a Baby’ campaign.”

Waitakere has led efforts to fight child abuse since adopting its ‘First Call for Children’ policy in 1993.

New Zealand’s continuing shocking child abuse statistics saw Mayor Harvey form a Mayoral Taskforce against Family Violence in 2007.

It has brought together a wide range of community leaders to combat family violence in this community.

“Waitakere has placed children at the centre of its civic life, and we are working with the whole sector,” he says.

“Our response to these devastating and continuous negative abuse statistics is making a difference. In local government leadership, the least you can do is bring together everyone who has a good heart and attitude and do the best you can.”

“We are leading with the help of some incredibly brave and hardworking people. Together we can and must eliminate this scourge which is seeing our women and children killed.”

Waitakere Family Violence Initiatives:

Funding towards an early intervention programme with Hoani Waititi Marae.

The Mayoral Taskforce is working with the Waitemata District Health Board and Plunket on the “Shaken Baby Syndrome” campaign. It features three simulator babies with clear skulls that light up when you shake them, showing the brain damage caused by shaking a baby.

Waitakere is currently holding “No Sweat Parenting” events, hosted by Pio Terei. Pio speaks across the age and ethnic spectrum, giving “choice ideas for raising your kids and fun ways to build awesome families”. Packed out events were held in Ranui and Massey this week. A range of parents and grandparents from all walks of life attended. The next event will take place at Hoani Waititi Marae on Wednesday 9 September.

Judge Mather at Henderson District Court chairs Waitakere Anti-Violence Essential Services, better known as WAVES. It works with groups like Waitakere Abuse, Trauma and Counselling Services, Pacific Island Safety Prevention Project, Viviana and Man Alive to respond to the needs of families and bring rates of violence down.

Police Area Commander, Inspector Gary Davey, has made family violence a key priority.
Council has funded large billboards featuring the “Family Violence – It’s Not OK in Waitakere" message. Currently, four generations of the Wehi whänau from Te Waka Huia kapa haka group feature, taking a courageous stand against family violence.