Welcome to my website
It is an honour to be the MP for Waitakere and a front bench Cabinet Minister in the National-led Government.
I am passionate about ensuring a brighter future for all New Zealanders. As the Minister for Social Development and Youth Affairs, I have been given an opportunity to effect positive change in people's lives, their family and their community. I intend to get it right.
As a proud Westie I believe that the beautiful and wild West Auckland is the best place to be. If you are local and need help with any issue contact my office which is located at 429 Great North Road in Henderson. Office hours are 9:00am to 4:30pm.
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In the House
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This White Paper on Vulnerable Children contains the most important work I can do as a Minister and that we can do as a country – protect our children.
As a Minister I have a deep sense of responsibility for the thousands of children who are hurt, neglected, abused, and killed in this country. New Zealanders are sick of seeing the tragic consequences of this, and now is our chance to break that destructive cycle.
In this paper you will find measures to protect children that will fundamentally change what we do now. It is with the backing of the country and the will of this Government that we can make those changes. We must have the courage of our convictions and take these bold steps. What we’re doing now clearly isn’t working well enough.
We are deliberately targeting resources, interventions, and support to those children who need it most. Internationally, experts agree that targeted investment is crucial to greater social cohesion and to the enhanced development of the most vulnerable. This doesn’t mean we sacrifice universal services, but that we make an extra effort to wrap every support we can around those children who are in danger of neglect and abuse.
We know there are families suffering financial hardship, and that is particularly concerning when it is persistent. This Government is committed to alleviating this, and is doing so with extra financial assistance, through supporting community organisations that help families manage better, and by maintaining a focus on getting people off welfare and into work.
I welcome the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group report on child poverty and have incorporated much of the drive of their proposals into these changes.
Though I acknowledge the pressure that financial hardship puts on families, that is never an excuse to neglect, beat, or abuse children. Most people in such circumstances do not abuse their children, and I cannot tolerate it being used as justification for those who do.
There is also no excuse for doing nothing when you know a child is in danger from neglect or abuse. Parents, whanau, friends, and neighbours all have a responsibility to make sure children are protected from harm and to speak up and seek help. This is the power to protect.
The plans in this White Paper are challenging and some will be difficult to achieve and may take time. These are significant changes that affect every New Zealander, from the streets of every community to the top of the Beehive. We all need to embrace the work before us that will better protect children. Whether you agree or disagree with the measures outlined here, the fact that you’re reading this means you care. So take the next step and be part of the action to protect children.
We can and will do better. We owe it to the children of New Zealand.