Most New Zealand parents love, nurture and protect their children. But sadly, for decades New Zealand has seen 7 to 11 of our children murdered each year by those could have been expected to care and protect them. In addition, more than 200 children are hospitalised following severe physical violence each year.
The Government’s White Paper for Vulnerable Children is designed to identify, support and protect the 20,000 to 30,000 of our most vulnerable kiddies. I spoke in my Maiden speech about how society is judged by how we treat our most vulnerable, and observed that a Government cannot legislate aroha, a Government cannot legislate love.
I am enjoying being a White Paper champion. This White Paper is for those children who are poorly loved. I have been visiting towns and cities all over New Zealand holding public meetings on our plans to protect our most vulnerable children.
The White Paper is informed by over 10,000 submissions from New Zealanders including 2000 from children, feedback from frontline health professionals in justice, health and education, and best international practice. An underlying message is that we are all accountable in reporting any instances where we feel a child is vulnerable.
So far, I have held public meetings to talk about the White Paper in Mapua, Motueka, Blenheim, Kaikoura, Timaru, Marton, and Feilding. Next week I shall be holding meetings in Napier and Invercargill. I am relishing the opportunity to spread the word on this significant initiative and am proud that this Government is addressing this appalling stain on our nation.