[Sitting date: 18 July 2012. Volume:681;Page:3622. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
SCOTT SIMPSON (National—Coromandel) to the
Minister for Social Development: What announcements has she recently made on the Government’s expansion of Social Workers in Schools?
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development)
: I am pleased that the first 50 of 149 extra social workers in schools will begin as schools start back this term. The first 50 additional social workers will cover 95 schools in Northland, South Auckland, and Hawke’s Bay. We announced the expansion of Social Workers in Schools to all decile 1 to 3 schools last year, expanding the coverage from 285 to 675 schools by mid—[Interruption] Hey, are you done? [Interruption] A bit more? Let us go. [Interruption] Are you ready?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I would ask members to be just a little more respectful, please. The Minister is only feet away from me, and I struggled to hear her answer. I just ask that interjections be a little more reasonable. I call Scott Simpson.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: No, I just thought I would take a moment to—I have not quite finished my answer.
Mr SPEAKER: But the Speaker determined the Minister had.
Scott Simpson: What role will the social workers play within the school community?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: To be fair and make sure that the Speaker can hear me and know when I have actually finished, the school staff can be the first to notice when something is not right with a child, and with problems increasingly complex and difficult, our new social workers in schools will work with children and their families to address these issues. I think it is really important to note that we will have social workers in the schools of over 131,000 children. This will cost the Government an extra $11.1 million, but, actually, I think it is an investment that is well worth it for those children who need it so badly.
Scott Simpson: How does this initiative contribute to the Government’s focus on protecting our children?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: This forms a significant part of our vulnerable children programme of action. Over the last 3 years we have taken significant steps to better protect our most vulnerable children. The addition of more social workers to more schools is part of this work. Complimenting this, we also announced an additional 96 Child, Youth and Family care and protection front-line social workers, 16 of whom will be supervisors. This expansion of front-line social workers will be so that we can work more intensely with those children who need it most.
Phil Twyford: Why has not even one of the first 50 new social workers been deployed in west Auckland, even though she announced the policy with great fanfare at a west Auckland school last year, and a full one-third of the schools in west Auckland are eligible?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I believe they are in the second tranche, but it is the ministry itself that did an analysis of where the need was most immediate. Not wanting to sort of have patronage and have them actually go where I would like them to be first, I have taken its advice on where they should be.