What’s in a name: MPs weigh in on ‘Ministry for Vulnerable Children’
Last updated 10:52, August 2 2016
The frontrunner name for the CYF replacement agency, Ministry for Vulnerable Children, has caused controversy. What would you call it?
An overhaul of Child, Youth and Family is widely welcomed but the new agency’s name is proving a sticking point.
The long and chequered story of CYF will be officially at an end by March 2017, replaced by a Ministry for Vulnerable Children. The name is yet to be confirmed by Cabinet and many are hoping that leaves room for a rethink.
Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft says the name of any organisation reveals underlying assumptions, goals and philosophies.
"That is why a recently proposed name for the replacement organisation for Child, Youth and Family is unfortunate. The suggested ‘Ministry for Vulnerable Children’ is stigmatising and labelling."
We asked Members of Parliament what name they would prefer, and why.
* OPINION: Ministry for Vulnerable Children name ‘stigmatising and labelling’
* Planned ‘Ministry for Vulnerable Children’ labelled "cripplingly disappointing"
* CYF to be shut down and replaced by a new ministry
MONIQUE FORD/FAIRFAX NZ
Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft favours a "more hopeful and positive" name than ‘Ministry for Vulnerable Children’.
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER ANNE TOLLEY:
Every MP contacted was happy to comment for this piece, except the one at the centre of the restructure: Social Development Minister Anne Tolley.
Tolley’s office had nothing to add to a statement sent last week, in which acting Minister Hekia Parata said: "The Minister has made it clear that it is the new system and how it operates which will make a difference for vulnerable children, not what the system is called."
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has said a planned overhaul of CYF can only do part of the job in caring for vulnerable children – parents, communities and New Zealanders also need to take responsibility.
LABOUR CHILDREN’S SPOKESPERSON JACINDA ARDERN:
Labour’s policy is to establish a Ministry for Children, Ardern says. "You might have had some variations around the edges but the main point for us would be no use of words like ‘vulnerable’ … certainly not adding anything that stigmatises or unnecessarily narrows the range of issues that ministry can cover.
"We supported the idea of the Government … reforming CYF. We already had a policy saying that work needed to be undertaken and that we needed a separate Ministry for Children with its own minister – which is slightly different again to what the current Government is doing. … [Ministry for Vulnerable Children] is not just a name, that tells us the kind of focus the ministry will have and in our view it’s too narrow."
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ
Labour MP Jacinda Ardern says the Government is stigmatising a whole cohort of young New Zealanders while leaving others behind with its creation of a Ministry for Vulnerable Children.
GREEN PARTY CO-LEADER METIRIA TUREI:
Turei says families who need help will be more interested in a "great service for their kids" than in its name. However, "[Ministry for Vulnerable Children] does send a negative message".
"We certainly disagree with the name – it’s very negative, takes a deficit and exclusionary approach to supporting children and families. We need to focus on the ministry improving the wellbeing of all children and families, rather than be so narrow and negative."
ROSS GIBLIN/FAIRFAX NZ
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says families will be more interested in how the new agency works but to have a "negative" name is "very unfortunate".
NEW ZEALAND FIRST LEADER WINSTON PETERS
Peters says the minister has had "years" to fix CYF, and should do that rather than "rewrite the script".
"It’s so typical of politicians and bureaucrats to misname the problem and misunderstand the solution," he says.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the Government should be fixing CYF rather than wiping its hands of the problem and entering a "public relations exercise".
"There are a lot of reasons for vulnerability, most are economic and some are self-induced."
Forming a new agency is simply a "costly public relations exercise".
MAORI PARTY CO-LEADER MARAMA FOX:
DAVID WHITE/FAIRFAX NZ
Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox says if it was up to her she would set up a Ministry of Family/Whanau.
Fox says while it’s not helpful to be fighting over the name of the new department, she thinks the Government is going in the "wrong direction".
"I think vulnerable children do not become vulnerable on their own I think impoverished children do not become impoverished on their own.
"If it was up to me I would be looking to set up a Ministry of Family or a Ministry of Whanau. We need to fix the whole of the problem.
"It’s important to add we’re committed to working with the Government to come up with the right solutions for children which in our minds include ensuring families are strong so that children prosper."
Faces of Innocents: Give them a voice
Share your stories, photos and videos.
ACT LEADER DAVID SEYMOUR
"[The Minister] is taking on one of the biggest and most urgent challenges in New Zealand," Seymour says.
"This organisation has been reformed 14 times. The minister is starting from the ground up and the best thing the office of the Children’s Commissioner can argue about is the name. I mean we actually need to do better for our children rather than this kind of pathetic naval gazing."
"We need to be honest with each other. Children who come before this new ministry will be vulnerable."
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
ACT leader David Seymour says the agency will target children who are indeed "vulnerable".
UNITED FUTURE LEADER PETER DUNNE
Dunne says the name is secondary to how the agency performs.
"The more important thing is that the new agency performs and actually addresses the concerns … we’ve got a massive problem with at-risk, vulnerable, children, and we need to do much better for them.
DAVID WHITE/FAIRFAX NZ
United Future leader Peter Dunne says the name of the agency is secondary to its performance.
"We need to serve their needs much more effectively. Having a dedicated national agency is positive. What you call it I think is secondary."
* Do you have a better name for the new department? Comment below with your suggestion.