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Ed Sheeran

Claim to give Maori say on welfare abuse

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A lawyer working on a Waitangi Tribunal claim calling for an independent inquiry into abuse of children and young people in state care says it's a chance to show the Maori dimension of the problem.

Andrew Erueti, a law lecturer at the University of Auckland, says an over-vigilant welfare system took large numbers of children into institutional care, with Maori families singled out for special attention.

The outcome is a high percentage of the prison muster being Maori.

He says he was inspired to pull together a claim after hearing Social Development Minister Ann Tolley arguing the Government had done enough to address the problem by creating an independent listening service for victims of historic abuse.

That service comes under the same ministry responsible for the abuse, and there has been on Maori input.

"Many many Maori who are affected by this issue are being excluded by what is being offered by the Ministry for Social Development and it is a concern for us because the minister has said she wants to close off this process by 2020, and that is only a couple of years away, and she thinks they are about three quarters of the way through this process, so there are a whole lot of Maori out there who we think aren't participating," Mr Erueti says.

The Waitangi Tribunal claim may lead to more Maori coming forward because it is a Maori-oriented process, and that will give people a better idea of the size of the problem.

Radio Waatea will live stream the social service select committee hearing on submissions to the Children, Young People and their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Bill from 9am to 1pm tomorrow, Wednesday March 15.


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