Daily Archives: September 5, 2011

Letter to Judge Philippa Cunningham

Judge Philippa Cunningham
Auckland District Court
Fax 09 916 9611

Dear Judge Cunningham,

I am writing to express my dismay and disquiet at your ruling last week.

My heart goes out to the partner and mother who did what we would all hope and expect a mother to do.

Our media in recent years has profiled more family cover ups of child abuse than cases like this. Having worked for women’s refuge in the past and supported a mother and child through the process of laying a complaint of child abuse I have seen first hand the fear and trauma involved in taking a case to court.

In this example the comedian concerned admitted his guilt and while this will certainly have made the process prior to your ruling easier for the family your ruling must have been absolutely devastating.

I am not a proponent of punishment for the sake of punishment but I do believe an essential part of justice is the acknowledgement of a crime and rehabilitation and or restitution.

You reportedly decided the comedian had no paedophilic tendencies I am supposing this is because he was drunk. This suggests that if you’re drunk and your partner doesn’t want sex and you have a child in your bed then anyone might end up conducting sex acts on that child. I would suggest this is not true. How was it he didn’t perform a sex on (attempt to rape) his partner while she slept if he was so drunk he was not accountable for his own actions? He knew it was his daughter and this is not the behaviour of a man with a healthy sexuality.

I believe this judgement sends a harmful message to victims and their families. So few cases of sexual abuse make it to court in this country and even fewer manage to get convictions. Now there is even less incentive to try.

I also believe it sends a message to men that they are less responsible for their actions if they’re socially privileged and drunk.

We need a justice system that we can all have confidence in. Your decision has undermined my faith in justice in this country.

You can’t change this ruling, but at the very least I do hope you reflect on the reaction to your ruling and organise time to talk to some of the agencies working with victims of sexual abuse.

Yours sincerely

Jan Logie

A summary of party political priorities for children

I attended the Child Health and Wellbeing in New Zealand Academic and Political Forum this week. There were presentations on Maori and Pacific health, infectious diseases, infant and maternal mental health, primary care and policy approaches as well as an update on the Children’s Social Health Monitor (New Zealand).

There were several key themes I took from the day:
1. We are massively under-investing in our children
2. Our children are sicker and more at risk than children in any other country we like to compare ourselves to, and many that we see being at a much lower level of development like Turkey or the Czech Republic
3. The social determinants of health such as poverty, poor housing, over crowding and racism are responsible for this, rather than individual choices or in many cases the specifics of health care.
4. We’ve been saying this for a long time.

Then the major parliamentary political parties presented. Here’s my summary.

The Government: “Through bad economic times the vulnerable bear a disproportionate burden, but what is the long term cost of not fixing the economy (first)?” Bill English Basically, doesn’t disagree that the plight of children is terrible. He thinks that if we fix the economy we’ll have enough money to improve the situation. He also pointed to National’s core responses: the improved rates of immunisation, the home insulation scheme (forgetting that with their new policy to try to limit most State House tenancies to two years, they’ll be kicking people out of their insulated houses after two years) and the green paper. Their priorities are reducing child abuse (green paper) and changing delivery models, not putting in more money into policies aimed at children.

Labour: Annette King presented Labour’s policy platform to put children at the centre of policy making. This appeared to be primarily through mechanistic means. She outlined a range of very important and useful initiatives to do this:
1. to get cross party agreement for a multi year agenda for change;
2. start investment at maternal health;
3. establish a Minister for Children, set milestones and monitor for progress.

Maori Party: Rahui Katene – “Well the Maori Party has a distinctive difference to the other parties in this panel, in that we prefer not to talk about what we will do to you; but instead to spread the word that our most enduring solutions lie in the people themselves”.
Whanua ora and self determination  http://www.maoriparty.org/index.php?pag=nw&id=1748&p=child-health-symposium-rahui-katene.html

United Future: a range of disparate measures without a coherent vision.

The Greens: The Greens policy is to urgently prioritise changing the social determinants of health by:
4. lifting 100,000 children out of poverty by 2014;
5. increasing the minimum wage: 2 of 5 households in poverty are working families;
6. extending the Training Incentive Allowance and the working for families tax credit to beneficiaries; and
7. setting a minimum standard for housing quality.

The Greens have wide ranging policy that includes early support, and joined up, culturally appropriate care, but also prioritises changing the social determinants to create a step change improvement for children.