Indigenous Peoples and Justice
Roger Sowry, Minister of Social Welfare, Work & Income
content may change during delivery
morning and welcome to the start of day two of this conference.
want to start by talking for a few minutes about our Youth Services Strategy. This is what you could call the Ďroad mapí weíve been
carefully developing to target youth at risk of offending, re-offending and poor
strengthens Children Young Persons & their Families Agency (CYPFAís)
current youth justice practice through the use of assessment tools which will
help to identify young people at risk of offending and providing a wider range
of services and programmes for those who are. It particularly addresses one of
the main objectives in the CYP+F Act by placing rehabilitation and
accountability in partnership. Young offenders must be held accountable for
their behaviour, but accountability alone wonít stop them re-offending. And
stopping kids re-offending surely must be the overriding objective in any youth
aware there is some anxiety that the practice changes arising from the Youth
Services Strategy (YSS) could potentially blur the lines between Youth Justice (YJ)
and CP. My response is that research confirms that between 60 to 80% of the
positive changes in offending behaviour are related to the types of treatment
and rehabilitation programmes young people receive.
also clearly shows the use of deterrence or sanctions have virtually no effect
on re-offending rates - in fact they sometimes have the opposite effect.
I know itís a widely held belief that thereís a group of young
offenders which the CYP+F Act cannot deal with effectively and that this group
is responsible for a large amount of youth crime.
can tell you that a study conducted last year found this belief is simply not
true. The group of repeat offenders is
relatively small only 10% of young people had 3 or more Family Group Conferences
in period 1 July 94 - 31 December 96, 72% in that period had had only one.
study also confirmed that the care and protection issues for repeat offenders
are important.... and that often not enough attention is paid to this aspect of
their lives in the early stages. YSS works on two levels using structured
decision making tools to identify those at risk of offending and the needs of
those who have a range of interventions - including rehabilitation programmes,
short term care associated with rehabilitation programmes, specialist group care
and programmes and residential care.
programmes and services will cover a range of behaviours Ė such as drug and
alcohol, sex abuse, conduct disorder behaviours. And itís encouraging to know
that in August the first new facility will open in Christchurch - Te Poutama
Arahi Rangitahi (Sex Abuser Residential Treatment facility) for our most high
risk youth before they enter the youth justice system.
cannot emphasise enough the impact the YSS will have on that group of children
and young people embarking on a criminal career. I guess itís nice to be able
to stand here and say that CYPFA hasnít had any significant increase in the
percentage of Maori clients over the past three years. However, I donít like
telling you that Maori or European/Maori children account for 48 percent of
child abuse and neglect findings. Thatís not good enough.
is one of the reasons we have put a lot of time and effort into our Neglect and
Abuse TV campaign which aims to educate people about the problems these issues
create. And itís important to remember that there has not
overall increase in referrals to youth justice family group conferences
over the past few years.
what is happening, is that courts are referring more children and young people
to us under the youth justice provisions. We
used to get about four police referrals for every one court referral.
Thatís changed now, and itís a one-to one ratio. This huge increase
in the number of court referrals reflects the steady increase in the serious
offending. Iím talking about aggravated robbery, serious assault and other
shockingly violent crimes which are being committed by young people.
are not born Ďbadí. Itís a
cocktail of disadvantage that sets them along the road to crime and prison. You
know the story....
alcohol and drug abuse,
not getting a proper education,
Government is already doing a great deal to address these problems. Weíre
putting in place strong early intervention programmes around the country - like
Family Start - to break these cycles and stop kids ending up in the system.
Weíre working to educate parents about what help is available and how to reach
that help, with initiatives like Strengthening Families. Weíve developed a
comprehensive approach to dealing with the ones who are already in trouble -
with our Youth Services Strategy and Residential Services Strategies.
addressing health issues with free doctorsí visits for under five year olds,
and education issues by providing free glasses, I could go on, but what I want
to talk to you about today is equally important if weíre serious about
building a future for young Maori.
responsibility, the communityís responsibility and the familyís
responsibility. Frankly, Iím not interested in people sitting around moaning
that itís all the Governmentís fault. Thatís a cop-out, and itís letting
our kids down. Stop
talking fault and start taking responsibility.
everyoneís responsibility that we have fourteen year-old kids breaking into
peoplesí home and assaulting them. The Government canít solve problems like
these on itís own. We need communities
up and down New Zealand to decide that theyíll take responsibility for
their kidsí behaviour. We need
families to start spending time with their kids.
all need to look at our
own behaviour. Are we giving them the right sort of role models? We need parents to get off the sofa, turn off the TV and go and check what the kids
are up to. Play a bit of sport with the ten year-olds. Talk to the teenagers
about whatís happening at school. Spend some time with the littlest ones reading
books. Take the time to
listen to your children.
me give you one example of communities not taking responsibility for the
problems our children are facing. One of the issues Iíve been closely involved
with as Minister of Social Services is making sure weíve got safe places to
keep kids when they get in trouble or canít stay at home. Places where we can
give them long-term help to sort their problems out, and get back on the right
some communities around New Zealand have been fantastic when weíve talked to
them about providing such a place in their neighbourhood. Theyíve had
concerns, weíve discussed the issues, and theyíve ended up being really
supportive of the whole thing. Other communities have reacted differently....
with the NIMBY syndrome - Not In My Back Yard... I have to say, thatís not
much help to a 16 year-old kid whoís been arrested and faces the prospect of
being sent to an adult prison while awaiting trial.... And itís not much help
to a troubled ten year-old... who has suffered sexual and physical abuse and has
to be removed from a family for his or her safety.
those communities expect me to tell these kids, ďIím sorry, we canít look
after you tonight because the neighbours think youíll lower the tone of the
communityĒ? Or should I explain
that they wonít be able to have mum and the family visit because weíre
sending them to the other end of the country where there is a bed?
Government is doing our bit to help these families.
Iím not saying we canít continue to do better for them. But we canít do it alone.
Weíre not going to give up on the families and young people who need
our help. Weíre doing everything
we can to give them options in life. Iíll
tell you here and now, Iím making empowering people my priority.
like your help to emphasise what individuals can do to take control of their own
lives. One last thing before I finish. We
must not forget that we all have the same goal helping people make a better
future for themselves and their children. And
that working together, we can make a huge difference to the society our children
will grow up in.