He­witt backs plan to re­duce abuse

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Chat­ting over cups of tea is the key to im­prov­ing the lives of vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren, Can­nons Creek fam­i­lies were told last week.

Former All Black Norm He­witt spoke to about 40 Can­nons Creek par­ents and com­mu­nity lead­ers at the Fanau Cen­tre last Wed­nes­day in his role as a ‘‘ cham­pion’’ of the Govern­ment’s Green Pa­per for Vul­ner­a­ble Chil­dren.

Many New Zealand chil­dren get a bad start in life – ev­ery hour, two chil­dren are phys­i­cally, sex­u­ally or emo­tion­ally abused.

The Govern­ment is ask­ing com­mu­ni­ties what needs to hap­pen to help chil­dren thrive, be­long and achieve in New Zealand.

Hui are be­ing held all over the coun­try to en­cour­age sub­mis­sions on the green pa­per, which was launched in July.

Dis­cus­sions didn’t need to be more ad­vanced than a chat over a cup of tea, Mr He­witt told those at the hui.

Ideas that come out of the brain­storm­ing ses­sions can be sub­mit­ted to the Govern­ment online or by post.

‘‘Have a cup of tea with your peo­ple and say, ‘We want more than just a few [sub­mis­sions], we’ll have a say’. My goal is that four mil­lion peo­ple will have a say,’’ Mr He­witt said.

‘‘We all have the op­por­tu­nity to make a dif­fer­ence.’’ Most Ki­wis were sick of read­ing news ar­ti­cles about abused chil­dren, and this was a chance to change New Zealand’s abuse sta­tis­tics, Mr He­witt said.

‘‘If we don’t change this now, there will be more Chris and Cru Kahuis that we’ll have to read about in the pa­per.’’

It was easy for adults to let egos and blame bog down such dis­cus­sions, but it was im­por­tant to put per­sonal is­sues aside and fo­cus on chil­dren’s needs, Mr He­witt said.

‘‘Our chil­dren need us as adults to do bet­ter for them.

‘‘New Zealand is a vil­lage, and they say it takes a vil­lage to raise a child. New Zealand is a vil­lage, and it starts here.’’

Fanau Cen­tre man­ager and Porirua deputy mayor Liz Kelly was pleased with the hui turnout, but said the green pa­per dis­cus­sions had only just be­gun.

She plans to en­cour­age dis­cus­sions among the many groups who use the cen­tre, and be­lieves tak­ing the green pa­per to churches will have a huge im­pact.

Sub­mis­sions on the Green Pa­per for Vul­ner­a­ble Chil­dren close on Fe­bru­ary 28 next year. Sub­mis­sions can be emailed to your re­sponse@chil­dren­s­ac­tion­plan.govt.nz or posted to PO Box 1556, Welling­ton 6012. The full pa­per can be read at chil­dren­s­ac­tion­plan.govt.nz.

Chil­dren at the cen­tre: Former All Black Norm He­witt urged peo­ple to start con­ver­sa­tions about the Govern­ment’s Green Pa­per for Vul­ner­a­ble Chil­dren at Can­nons Creek’s Fanau Cen­tre last week. Pic­tured are Fanau Cen­tre man­ager Liz Kelly, her grand­daugh­ter Kennedy Filo, 3, and Mr He­witt.

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