GUEST BLOG: Metiria Turei – The CYF review – an exercise in predetermination?



Child Youth and Family (CYF) has a troublesome history of underperformance and botched care and protection cases, the most recent being its abject failure, along with the Police, to address the Roastbusters sexual abuse allegations with any semblance of professionalism.

So when Social Development Minister Anne Tolley announced a high level review of CYF last week, my first thought was “It’s about time! I’ve been asking for this to happen for years.”

But on looking at the composition of the Minister’s Expert Review Panel and its terms of reference, my momentary elation rapidly turned to dire concern about what the review will recommend.

The Review Panel will be chaired not by someone with a background in child protection or youth justice issues, but by Paula Rebstock, an economist with a reputation as a privatiser and cost-cutter.

Yes, that’s the same Paula Rebstock who chaired the Welfare Working Group which completely ignored the best interests of children and young people and even went so far as making recommendations, adopted by the National Government, which increased the risk of abuse and neglect.

The other Review Panel members are the Commissioner of Police, the head of a Scottish charity, the Māori Party’s former Chief of Staff, and a Professor of Psychology. That there’s no-one there at all with a background of grassroots work with at-risk kids in New Zealand does not bode well.

Turning to the terms of reference, I didn’t have to read far for my concerns to be heightened. The second bullet point of the Review Panel’s scope reads:

TDB Recommends
  • The core role and purpose of Child, Youth and Family; and opportunities for a stronger focus on this, including through outsourcing some services (my emphasis)

The terms of reference also talk about the “… development of an investment approach for Child, Youth and Family…” That’s management-speak for CYF targeting funding into areas that will save them the most money in future, rather than into areas that will keep the most kids safe.

There is no opportunity for public submissions to the Review Panel, and no requirement that it consults with anyone working on the ground with at-risk children. Even worse, there is no requirement that the Review Panel address the well-established links between child poverty and child abuse and neglect.

This review has all the hallmarks of Government having a predetermined intent to take CYF down a path of privatisation, outsourcing and cost-cutting; and establishing a Review Panel that will deliver the recommendations it needs to justify doing that – just as happened with the Welfare Working Group.

That is a recipe for corporate profiteering and continued or worsening fragmentation and dysfunction in the delivery of CYF services.

Our nation’s most vulnerable children and young people deserve better.


  1. Why is Government employing all these dead heads from overseas who probably came here like Paula Rebstock because (she) (maybe?) was run out of town by her last employer?

    “Yes, that’s the same Paula Rebstock who chaired the Welfare Working Group which completely ignored the best interests of children and young people and even went so far as making recommendations, adopted by the National Government, which increased the risk of abuse and neglect.”

    Is National employing these crappy people because they will be totally subservient to Planet Key no matter what?

    This is killing our county’s once harmonious society, that now seems destined under these so called “experts” that are mucking us all up and killing some.

    Key has much to answer for here, the criminal.

  2. Rebstock looks as if she’s come from the same batch of alien eggs that anne tolly , paula bennett , judith collins , hekia parata , ruth richardson , jenny shipely and helen clark came from . Are we sure there’s not an alien space ship buried in Antarctic ice with a monster on-board popping out eggs ?

    More than ten years ago now I wrote a letter to the then Minister of Police , anette king, and asked her if she thought that neo liberalism had become a production-line for societal dysfunction and sociopathy.
    Her offices response was to fiddle with my email by removing a critical paragraph then spinning it up to make it look as if my email was in fact a complaint about a lack of policing in our precinct . The result of that was to have a very large policeman standing , sweating and glaring in my shop as he asked “ If you had a complaint about our policing tactics why didn’t you come directly to the station before you went to the Ministers office ? “

    After we sorted out our various confusions and I gave him a copy of the original email, we stood back and relaxed as many penny’s dropped .

    It’s my view that we NZ’ers had better get used to the idea that most our politicians are a dirty , swindling , lying pack of common , graceless fuckers . They have a vast resource for which to dip into whenever they like ( Speaker of the house going on $180 k European jaunt disguised as a cementing of relationships blah de blah )
    It’s my view that unless we take direct action to flush out the rats , the rats will keep breeding and building bigger nests from which their ilk will spill out into our country like the vermin they are .

    I’ve personally seen horrors that’d make your skin crawl .
    Mum in the front room hooking for the rent and electricity while the kids eat chips in the kitchen . Dad’s just out of prison for dealing P , covered in boob tats and wasted as he sits on flattened carb board boxes AKA furniture . Should I tell you about the damp cold ? The dog shit in the carpet ? The empty fridge ( Until dad sells it for a tinny ) The smell ! Oh God , the smell of places like that . Of piss, shit and vomit . Dirty dishes and fag ends in the sink . Stale bedding and dirty clothes .There’s not just poverty going on in places like that . There’s something else . And I think that something else is a complete lack of hope .
    ( I dare any of you fucking Trolls to say it’s their choice . I double fucking dare you ! )
    From those awful , hopeless houses comes tomorrows poor , sick little kids . They never had a chance and any chances their mums and dads had were wiped away by greedy scum bags like roger douglas , derek quigley , richard prebble , ruth richardson …
    And now ? Today ? We have Banks and Insurers making money from that dysfunction . The MSM loves a good blood and guts story and the dead eyed , gape mouthed, Great Unwashed lap it up like mongrel dogs then drag their brainless carcasses to the voting booths and vote those scum back in . Does that not make anyone else angry ?
    If there are many more angry people out there ? Why the fuck has nothing been done about the vile cadre of criminals that pretend they have our best interests at heart while they spend our money and treat us like dirt ?

    And you do know right ? That there’s no easy way out for us now . We have to take charge and take steerage of our country back from them .

    Annette King . Annette King , the startled looking old possum in the headlights . Why did andrew little give her a snuggly little position as his deputy Dawg leader and quisling neo liberal traitor in waiting ?

    Labour , in opposition to the mighty yankee doodle jonky-stien . What a sick fucking joke .

    • Why, Annette King? Probably because Little favours the old adage, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

  3. This is our Government wanting to achieve efficiency in the system. Targeting CYFS as the department that it sees as inefficient. What it really means is Paula Rebstock will go through the system and gut essential services in the name of economic savings.

    Metiria Turei has highlighted some incredibly concerning issues that will mean real suffering for Kiwi families and children with a lot more to come.

  4. We do need a review of how the M.S.D. and its umbrella agencies work. It just so happens that this is completely the wrong sort of review to be doing on it. And unfortunately the problems with C.Y.F.S. are just part of a much bigger problem in the M.S.D.

    And efficiency actually is one of the reasons for needing said review. However the causes of inefficiency are completely contrary to what the Government thinks they are. Inefficiency stems from a straight jacket legal framework that does not allow any flexibility in providing services. Tightening up the law will not help and will just exclude marginalised people who end up falling through the cracks.

    Another reason for the need to have a review is those murders in Ashburton did not just happen because the guy decided when he got out of bed that someone was going to die that day. It was a manifestation of extreme frustration with a system that can be cold and impersonal that was unfortunately expressed through very wrong means.

    Unfortunately reviewing one bit or another of M.S.D. will not work. But a wholesale review just might. But it certainly should not be on the current grounds, and certainly not with a Yes-woman like Paula Rebstock in charge.

  5. This review will not accomplish anything…this we can see already by the very makeup of the Panel Committee. They will make recommendations and as a result they will shuffle around a few things and call that reconstruction. Then we will have what we have always had….CYFS in crisis working with crisis. The cost cutting by the Govt has contributed to very poor outcomes and children have paid the price and so have families/whanau. Outsourcing community agencies is also driven by cost cutting as using services already funded as pre-paid social workers which in effect then impact on those very services not being able to meet the client base that they are funded for. Very poor decisions made at high levels filtering down the ranks. External Supervision is a MUST for CYF Social Workers but once again they are also denied this. Once again the Govt and MSD have created a committee to ensure the outcome they can live with. Pity child are likely to once again pay the cost, at times with their life.

  6. Metiria Turei must now finally call for a united opposition voice about American involvement in our social agencies.

    Metiria, can you finally work with the other two main opposition Parties and others?

    Time to bury the hatchet as we need to see a united opposition to all these incursions into our social engineering and economy slashing of services when we see hand picked US based “experts paid by us to come and destroy our society.

    Call NZ First Labour, and Maori Party to a forum called “Opposition MP’s CYF’s critical policy review working group forum”

    The press can then highlight for “an alternative Government in waiting, which will give credibility to swing voters that there finally is a choice with a united voice for positive changes.

  7. Before ‘efficient’ comes ‘effective’.

    After CYF comes a gaping hole for at risk and harmed children. When they’re too old for some things and too young for others.

    Beyond there comes an ever-declining pool of first step work positions and opportunities to bootstrap out of dysfunctional families or situations on the streets. Plus suitable accommodation.

    Countryboy mentions families living in squalor. It may not be ‘nice’ to say that’s what they’re choosing, yet it’s true. For them, with their experiences, those choices make good sense, and the outcomes are just the way it is. They’re surviving and getting by, however selfish that might look.

    CYFS is there for the ‘few’ children from these situations. And those few require lots of resources over a long time – and some will never make it. And all we can offer once CYFS fades from the scene are night shelters and bridges and prison. Pitiful.

    Ms Rebstock – well, she proves the adage “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.” But she knows the ‘right mantras’ and seems to believe the cant, so she is hired to do this dogmatic make-work.

    For an overarching review of this care system what is actually needed are contributors who know best practice and what’s effective, and how to construct connected systems that don’t flounder and fall under the weight of political correctness and conformity. Or the penny-pinching of interfering politicians and managers.

    Then they need to manage the implementation and transition with exquisite care because the delivery people are just as fragile as their clients – and they can kill the changes so easily. This country has a long history of incompetence with regard to structural changes in the public service… We don’t seem to train for it, though our ‘masters’ love to pretend they’re corporate raiders and the equals of Big Biz. (Yeah, right.)

    Paula Rebstock is definitely not the woman to run this. She lacks the breadth of imagination and humility to do so.

    So who would Ms Turei choose instead?

  8. Given our experience of the welfare reforms, it is clear that (1) any public consultation will be a sham, and the only submissions that will be heeded will be from the business sector and private providers; and (2) there will be a lot of blather about caring for vulnerable children while the recommendations will ensure those same children are hung out to dry.

    Yes, CYF needs a thorough review and maybe to change its practices when dealing with vulnerable families. However, this needs to be done alongside an honest appraisal of current resourcing, and what it is we hope to achieve for those families.

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