[Sitting date: 27 June 2012. Volume:681;Page:3414. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
ALFRED NGARO (National) to the
Minister for Social Development: What commitments has the Government made to reduce the number of child assaults in New Zealand?
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development)
: Since 2004 the number of child assaults, substantiated physical abuse, has risen from 1,820 to 3,086 in 2011. Assaults against children are simply unacceptable. Under our
Better Public Services targets we have committed to not only stopping the continued growth in child assaults but also reducing the current number by 5 percent. This is an ambitious target, reducing this number to below 3,000 when it is projected to reach 4,000, but one we simply must achieve.
Alfred Ngaro: Given that this target is ambitious, what actions will the Government take to achieve this?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: These
Better Public Services targets set clear, focused goals, ensuring a whole-of-Government response, with agencies really working together. I think that is a big part of the change that we are seeing. We are already seeing a difference made in, for example, having more social workers in schools, as well as workshops teaching health and education professionals to better detect physical abuse, and a multi-agency response to those children who are leaving hospitals. But there is no doubt about it that we have a lot of work to do.
Jacinda Ardern: Will she develop a target specifically on reducing child poverty, including for those in the homes of the working poor; if not, why not?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I do not think that living in poverty is an excuse to assault your child. Although we are working on bringing the number of child assaults down, I think to say that fixing child poverty would fix child assaults is, simply, wrong.
Jacinda Ardern: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I made sure that my question was very straight and quite tightly confined.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! A point of order is being raised.
Jacinda Ardern: I did not make any of the implications that the Minister has assumed. I simply asked whether she was working to develop a target on reducing child poverty.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Because the main question is quite specific on the commitments this Government has made to reduce the number of child assaults, I linked it to that main question on child assaults and answered appropriately. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! In fairness, that was not an unreasonable conclusion for the Minister to come to, because the primary question is very much about the Government’s commitment to reduce the number of child assaults. For the Minister to interpret the member’s question in relation to child assaults, therefore, was not unreasonable. I do not think I can ask the Minister to—because she clearly, in answering, indicated that the Government would not be having targets around reducing child poverty. So the answer seemed reasonable to me.