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Weekly Media Roundup

December 02, 2022 at 4:09 PM

RNZ: Malachi Subecz panel recommends mandatory reporting, information sharing

Five-year-old Malachi Subecz's death has led a panel to recommend mandatory reporting of children at a high risk of harm, but the government is not yet committing to it.

The report by an independent panel led by Dame Karen Poutasi found five gaps in the system, and made 14 recommendations. The government has said it will adopt nine and "look carefully" at the remaining five - which includes the mandatory reporting.

The report also found inadequate sharing across agencies, meaning some of those harming children had been able to hide it, putting vulnerable children at risk of becoming "invisible".

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The Spinoff: The tragedy of Malachi Subecz should prompt change, but not like this

The report into Malachi’s tragic death recommends a new law that will negatively impact Māori while failing to fix our broken system. 

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Stuff: No clear reason why this Government won't commit to actioning all Malachi Subecz report recommendations

OPINION: Dame Karen Poutasi​​’s review was at least the 34th report published in the past 30 years, examining child abuse and death in New Zealand.

It explained how better communication between state actors could have saved 5-year-old Malachi Subecz​. It said that New Zealanders needed greater encouragement to report signs of child abuse, and better education about how to spot it.

Its recommendations were not unexpected, given they followed what Poutasi described as a “sad litany of past reports”.

Yet the Government on Thursday avoided committing itself to actioning the most significant recommendations of Poutasi’s report.

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RNZ: Malachi Subecz's death: Government accused of avoiding 'more work' on dealing with child abuse

Justice advocacy groups say the government should be doing more to address child abuse.

It follows yet another damning report into the death of Malachi Subecz. The five-year-old boy suffered months of abuse at the hands of his carer, Michaela Barriball, including being beaten and burned, before he was murdered in November last year.

Malachi was placed in Barriball's care when his mother was sentenced to prison early last year. His wider whānau complained to the state's welfare agency several times, concerned about his safety, but no action was taken.

Yesterday a report by an independent panel found five gaps in the system, and made 14 recommendations. The government said it would adopt nine and "look carefully" at the remaining five - which included the mandatory reporting of child abuse.

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Stuff: 'Critical gaps in the system' made Malachi Subecz an 'invisible child': Dame Karen Poutasi review

Critical gaps in the system rendered Malachi Subecz an “invisible child” who was failed by multiple agencies and his community, a sweeping review into the child’s murder has found.

An investigation into how government departments could have intervened to prevent Malachi Subecz’s murder at the hands of his caregiver, Michaela Barriball, identified “ongoing holes in our safety nets and gaps” in a weak care and protection system.

“My terms of reference ask that I assess whether agencies within the system interact effectively. My response is that they do not,” Dame Karen Poutasi’s report said. “The system needs to be reinforced so that child protection is every agency’s responsibility, not just that of Oranga Tamariki.”

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NZ Herald: “A change angel”: Malachi Subecz’s family say his death cannot be in vain

A review of Malachi Subecz’s care before his death shows a “long list of fatal errors” and confirms that his death was preventable, his family says.

“There is no doubt that Malachi would still be alive if Oranga Tamariki had acted appropriately,” said his uncle and maternal cousin, who did not want to be named.

A damning review released this afternoon found a succession of Government agencies were unable to prevent five year-old Malachi from being repeatedly harmed and then murdered by his carer last November.

The review by Dame Karen Poutasi confirmed that the system “enabled Malachi to be invisible”, his family members said.

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1 News: Malachi Subecz, fatally beaten by caregiver, was 'invisible' within the system

An independent review into the murder of five-year-old Malachi Subecz by his caregiver has found the abuse slipped through holes in safety nets, which must be fixed with urgency and determination.

The Tauranga boy died in Starship hospital in November last year after sustaining months of physical abuse - including being beaten and burnt - by Michaela Barriball. She pleaded guilty to his murder earlier this year and is serving a life sentence.

The report by Dame Karen Poutasi was commissioned by the six state agencies that interacted with Malachi and his whānau in the months leading up to his death.

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NZ Herald: Clinical training for teachers to ID students with mental health issues

A new initiative will have mental health clinicians train teachers to identify and support rangatahi experiencing mental health issues.

Under the early intervention programme, mental health clinicians working in Te Whatu Ora’s Marinoto (Child and Adolescent Mental Health) team will implement an apprenticeship training model for teachers in some intermediate schools in North and West Auckland.

The project has an initial capacity of up to 18 schools annually, with those prioritised in the first stage of the programme selected based on their rate of referrals to secondary mental health services.

The initiative’s model will support teachers who are trained in the approach to deliver the programme independently in subsequent years, significantly increasing the number of students who can access support.

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The Spinoff: My marriage is finally over. My fight against New Zealand’s archaic divorce law goes on

Last year Ashley Jones went to parliament to plead for ‘quickie’ divorces to be allowed in cases of violence or abuse. This week, almost three years after leaving her husband, she finally won her own freedom.

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RNZ: Family court further victimises the vulnerable – advocates

A group advocating for urgent changes to the family court says parents are forced to come face to face with abusive ex-partners, even if a protection order is in place.

Humans of Family Court Aotearoa launched a billboard campaign to promote awareness about faults it said meant the system did not work well for most New Zealanders.

It wants the family court to consistently apply the Family Violence Act so parents and children were protected from their abusers.

Humans of Family Court spokesperson Jody Hopkinson said currently the family court does not do this, and it ignores the abuse parents and children have experienced.

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Newshub: European men the worst offenders for digital harm - Police data

European men are the worst offenders when it comes to harmful digital communications in New Zealand.

The victims mostly targeted are Māori women and children.

Māori digital data experts said agencies set up to protect the public, such as Netsafe, are failing Māori and other minority groups and should be restructured.

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1 News: Helping domestic abuse survivors personal for Ruby Tui

She's a powerhouse on the rugby field and a hero to legions of fans, but despite being at the top of her game Ruby Tui says she'll never forget where she came from or what her childhood taught her.



NZ Herald: Baby Elijah death: Mother Melody Ngawhika found guilty of manslaughter

A Rotorua mother who suffocated her six-month-old son in the midst of a depressive episode has been found guilty of manslaughter.

For the past week, 28-year-old Melody Ngawhika has been on trial on a charge of murder, relating to the suffocation of her son Elijah Abraham Ngawhika. He died on August 29 last year while the country was in Level Four lockdown.

This afternoon, after just under ten hours of deliberation, a jury of 11 unanimously found Ngawhika not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. Justice Pheroze Jagose presided over the trial.

Ngawhika’s lawyer, Fraser Wood, had advocated for an infanticide verdict, saying his client cannot bear full responsibility for the death as she was unwell at the time.



Stuff: Teenage sex offender continues fight to keep name secret

teenager who raped and sexually assaulted fellow high school students at parties is continuing his fight to keep his name secret forever.

The 19-year-old admitted charges of rape, unlawful sexual connection with a child, indecent assault and sexual conduct with a child.

He was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention and a further 12 months of supervision earlier this year.

Despite his application for permanent name suppression being declined at the Auckland District Court and the High Court, the man has now taken his fight to the Court of Appeal

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Stuff: Jail for masseur who sexually violated teenager

A teenager who was gifted a massage by a friend was “virtually asleep” when the masseur sexually assaulted him, a court heard.

At Nelson District Court on Monday, masseur Thomas James Hamilton, 33, was sentenced to 39 months in jail after a jury found him guilty of two charges of unlawful sexual connection.

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Category: News Media