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Inquiry into serious child abuse

The Government has appointed an independent inquiry into a serious case of child abuse that sparked widespread debate throughout the country.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has asked former Ombudsman Mel Smith to lead the inquiry into the death of a nine-year-old girl succumbing to horrific injuries in West Auckland ten days ago.

Ms Bennett described the incident as “one of the worst cases of child abuse.”

“I have received a final report from Child, Youth and Family’s Chief Social Worker and at this stage there appears to be no single glaring failure on the part of any of the agencies involved with the child’s family.

“However, I believe elements of this unusual case warrant further investigation,” she said, announcing the appointment of Ms Smith to head the inquiry.

Following are the Terms of Reference of the Inquiry:

1. Whether the multiple agencies and individuals involved in the lead-up to her abuse took all appropriate actions to ensure her safety

2. If these individuals and agencies were sufficiently child-centred in their actions and approach to this case

3. Whether all these individuals and agencies collaborated effectively

4. Whether the individuals and agencies involved in the case shared information effectively and whether they had a clear understanding of the law relating to sharing information

5. If any changes to the processes and legislative framework are required to ensure open and appropriate sharing of information about children considered at risk of abuse or neglect


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