Safeguarding Children CEO, Willow Duffy says that whistleblowers working in any organisation which cares for, or provides services for children and young people must be protected with the appropriate legislation.
“The recent release by a whistleblower of footage showing children being subjected to excessive force at an Oranga Tamariki Care and Protection Residence shows how important it is that whistleblowers are legally protected,” says Ms Duffy.
In a January 2021 submission to support proposed changes to the Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill 2020, Ms Duffy said that whistleblowers play a critical role in protecting children and young people in organisational and institutional settings.
“We need to review the legislation with a safeguarding and child protection lens.”
“Children are often unable to reveal what is happening to them and have to endure dreadful situations that can impact on their short and long term health and wellbeing. The responsibility to speak out and advocate for the child falls upon adults who become aware of what may be happening.”
“One of the most significant barriers they face is fear of reprisal, losing their job and impact on their safety and wellbeing, even when they witness abuse or neglect occurring in their workplace repeatedly.”
“Ensuring that we keep children and young people safe from harm can only be successful if there is openness and accountability.”
In her submission, Ms Duffy also advocated for a reduction in the current ‘serious wrongdoing’ threshold for whistleblowers, which she said could result in significant harm, trauma, and even fatal consequences.
She also supported the inclusion in the legislation of all organisations which provide services for children and young people, and a national safeguarding Whistleblowing Hub to be included as part of the role of the Independent Children’s Monitor.
Safeguarding Children is a registered charity and a leading provider of safeguarding and child protection education and guidance in New Zealand. It works across every sector providing services for children and young people and with members of the community. Its’ vision is that the children and young people of Aotearoa New Zealand are safe from abuse and neglect.
Safeguarding Children works with organisations and institutions, (including Crown Entities, such as Sport New Zealand) to create and embed systems, processes and strategies to create an organisational child-safe culture. Our approach includes the encouragement of Whistleblowing and the implementation of Whistle Blowing Policies.
For more information please visit: https://safeguardingchildren.org.nz/