CYF backs children’s abuse claims

Radio NZ News 8 May 2014
The Association for Social Workers is backing the findings of a Child Youth and Family (CYF) investigation into two caregivers who the agency says abused boys in their care.

A jury at Auckland District Court on Wednesday found Andrew Hemara, 53, and wife Jenny-Lee Hemara, 49, not guilty of of abusing boys in their care.

The couple had denied they had done anything wrong and the jury’s verdict was unanimous on all 14 charges of assault and ill-treatment of three boys between 2004 and 2010.

However CYF said its own investigation into abuse was substantiated and the couple’s caregiver status has been revoked.

… After the verdict Andrew Hemara said the couple had not been treated fairly. “I don’t think we really should have been there, everyone just goes by their (CYF’s) policies. As soon as a young person jumps up and makes a noise, in our case they just should have been talking with us all the way, we shouldn’t have been there.”

However the Association for Social Workers, which represents some Child, Youth and Family staff, said it was backing the agency’s stance.

Association’s chief executive Lucy Sandford-Reed said while the couple were found not guilty and the abuse did not meet a criminal threshold, it does not absolve them of responsibility.

“If a parent is ill-treating their children or abusing them and whether we use Section 59 of the Crimes Act and the amendments to that, physical abuse is not acceptable as a method of parenting and Child, Youth and Family set a high standard for that around their foster parents. These people quite clearly breached that standard.”

Ms Sandford-Reed said the couple’s behaviour did not amount to good parenting.

But Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the Hemara name had been dragged through the mud and yet there was no truth to the boys’ allegations.

“CYF owes a huge apology to the Hemaras, it’s ruined their lives, they’ve been slammed by CYF and they didn’t get name suppression so they’ve been living under this shadow since 2011 and it seems like they were guilty until proven innocent and yet they were trying to help really difficult kids that were being referred to them by CYF.

“Family violence is such a hot political potato that the police are not doing appropriate investigations, using their judgement and using discretion. They’re not doing their homework basically and they’re putting these cases through to court and this isn’t the first one that I’ve heard about where if the police had done a bit more homework we could have saved a whole lot of grief and got to the truth a lot quicker.”

Mr McCoskrie said the police should have acted differently in dealing with the boys’ allegations.

“They should have got character references, they should not have accepted at face value the word of some troubled kids. Sure you’ve got to believe serious accusations that are made but you at least check whether they are true or not and unfortunately it didn’t happen until three yrs later when it finally got to court that they actually did this investigation and the jury said no, they’re not guilty.’s-abuse-claims