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MENZ Issues: news and discussion about New Zealand men, fathers, family law, divorce, courts, protests, gender politics, and male health.

Fri 29th July 2005

Goff Speech: Launch of Family Safety Teams pilot

Filed under: Domestic Violence — JohnPotter @ 2:58 pm

“Thank you for the opportunity to open the training induction workshop, which launches the Family Safety Team pilot initiative.

“The strength of this project is its integrated and collaborative approach. Family Safety Teams involve Justice, Police, CYF and, in the community sector, the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges, Child Abuse Prevention Services, and the National Network of Stopping Violence Services.

“All these agencies have a common purpose but in the past have not sufficiently worked together and shared information to maximize their effectiveness. Family Safety Teams are about achieving the best possible coordination, communication and collaboration.”

JohnP: Some fathers experience this ‘common purpose’ as collusion, conspiracy and complicity, instead of the more cuddly words used in Goff’s speech.

“Women and children are mainly the victims of violence within families. Violence within families, however, is not limited to partner violence or child abuse. Elder abuse, violence towards parents by their children, and violence between siblings exists. Family Safety Teams will take a holistic approach addressing all of these issues. ”

JohnP: Holistic, that is except the category of violence that we never mention because we are in denial of its existence.

“The Ministry of Justice has been monitoring the working of the Domestic Violence Act since it came into force in 1995. It has concluded that the underlying policy of the Act is sound, it is well supported by stakeholders and only minor amendments are necessary. ”

JohnP: Fathers are obviously not considered ‘stakeholders’.

“In the pilot phase, $14.9 million has been invested in Family Safety Teams to help achieve these outcomes. ”

JohnP: Must be worth billions when they roll out the final phase.

“It aims to ensure families make greater use of existing services and assistance, such as protection orders, counselling, health, education, housing and income support services.”

“Early intervention is the key to effective prevention …

“Early intervention is necessary and effective at turning around behaviours that are likely to lead… before victims are created…

“Early intervention needs to be targeted, relatively intensive and ongoing. It requires a very high level of coordination of effort between government and community agencies. ”

JohnP: I guess ‘Early Intervention’ means ignoring the hard, scary cases which are embarassing to CYF when they go horribly wrong, and instead going after nice, law-abiding middle-class type of families who break some minor regulation in a poorly-trained social worker’s imagination.

Perhaps they’ll be coming for you…

GPs champion prostate testing

Filed under: Men's Health — JohnPotter @ 2:19 pm

Medical opinion is swinging towards prostate cancer screening for men, a leading Christchurch urologist says.

The debate was reignited at the national GPs conference in Christchurch yesterday, despite current Ministry of Health advice against a national screening programme.

In a show of hands, most GPs at the conference debate indicated they would offer prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood-testing to men over 50 during a general health check-up.

Urologist Peter Davidson said prostate cancer was the third-biggest cancer killer in men after lung and colon cancer. About 550 men a year die of it, more than the 450 killed on the roads.

Clinicians were persuaded by recent research that showed screening improved the length of time sufferers lived after diagnosis.

However, epidemiologist Dr Ann Richardson said there was no strong evidence that screening made any difference to how long a man would live.

She said doctors should wait for the results of major studies under way in Europe and the United States. Those studies were randomised controlled trials, considered the gold standard in medical research.

One of the main dangers of screening was over-treatment, Richardson said.

Prostate Cancer Foundation president Barry Young said that although PSA testing was not diagnostic, it was no less accurate than mammography and there was not a better screening option.

“The Ministry of Health says men without symptoms should not ask to be tested,” he said.

“But the horrible thing is if you go along with symptoms and find it’s caused by prostate cancer, it’s generally too late. Once it’s out of the prostate, it’s incurable.”

Christchurch Men and Fathers Network co-chairman Don Rowlands said prostate cancer was a huge issue, but men’s health was not prioritised.

“Health is a competition for funds,” he said.

Thu 28th July 2005

CYF ‘ignored warnings about weird caregiver’

Filed under: Sex Abuse / CYF — JohnPotter @ 3:13 pm

The father of a girl videoed being sexually abused by her CYF-appointed caregiver says he pleaded with social workers not to place his daughters and son with the man because they would be in danger.

Police are investigating the man after they discovered thousands of child pornography images on his computer and videos in which he allegedly violated one of the girls.

Child, Youth and Family is also investigating the placement of the girls, aged 10 and 7, and a four-year-old boy, who were sent to the man in October.

Port Waikato MP Paul Hutchison, who was approached by the “desperately worried” parents in November, said he also wrote to CYF, but was ignored. “I’ve just found this one of the most appalling cases I’ve ever dealt with,” he said yesterday.

The alleged abuse was discovered in March when police investigated a sexual assault complaint made by a 19-year-old woman boarding at his home in a town near Auckland.

The allegations are detailed in a police letter to CYF, obtained by National welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins.

Ms Collins said the case was the latest in a long line of failures by CYF, and should be independently investigated. “This is just another complete cock up by CYF in a situation where children have been…put into a situation of extreme danger. And…CYF were warned about it.”

Don’t blame social workers until review completed – union

The Public Service Association (PSA) said it is too easy to blame social workers when families are in crisis.

National secretary Brenda Pilott said all PSA members were shocked by the allegations.

It was inappropriate for the union to comment on the case because it was being investigated by CYF and police, she said.

“High profile abuse cases often lead to a feeding frenzy of media and political attention.

“However politicians, the media and others currently commenting on it need to be open to the possibility that inadequate systems and processes are just as likely to be at fault as poor social work practice.”

Social workers dealt with New Zealand’s most dysfunctional families and damaged children and the review must go beyond simply looking for someone to blame, Ms Pilott said.

“The nation’s social workers do their best every day to turn around young lives destroyed by abuse and neglect.

Wed 27th July 2005

Women’s Refuge Appeals and anti-violence chicanery

Filed under: Domestic Violence — JohnPotter @ 3:30 pm

By Barbara Faithfull
21st July 2005

Women’s Refuge appeal week is here again, and once again generously helped along by Body Shop, with lavish displays of Refuge literature etc. and other persuasive materials.

Last year they also began a public petition for Refuge, calling on the government to increase its spending, and the N.Z. Herald of 5th July 2005 reports that with over 200,000 signatures, the petition had now been presented to Women’s Affairs Minister Ruth Dyson. Also that Dyson “acknowledged Women’s Refuge’s significant contribution to the community by protecting victims and working to prevent family violence”. Well, she would say that, wouldn’t she?

Last September I wrote a rebuttal to that, entitled Crisis in N.Z. Family Violence Services. Public Enquiry overdue : Let’s start with Women’s Refuge. Among others, I sent a copy of it to National’s Judith Collins, but apart from a polite acknowledgement I’ve had no further response from her on it. An abridged version of it was subsequently published as guest editorial in the March 2005 edition of the Christian publication DayStar.

Now, as well as all the concerns I outlined there about Refuge and anti-violence activism in general, I find even more to be concerned about : their involvement in a movement which seeks to link violence to humans with violence/cruelty to animals! On the web under AWINZ — Animal Welfare Institute of New Zealand — it is there for all to see.

I was first alerted to this astonishing new trend in anti-violence activism by an interview which Paul Henry conducted earlier this month with Plunket policy analyst Cathy Kern on 11th July on Radio Live. (Also Plunket’s fundraising week, incidentally) It followed a N.Z.Herald report on July 9th headed “Cruelty to animals by children could indicate sexual abuse”.

Thu 7th July 2005

Dead Men Don’t Talk – Wounded Soldiers Tell the Story.

Filed under: General — Downunder @ 10:25 am

We know that familial separations raise many emotions worries and tensions, and in many cases there is a breaking point. For a west Auckland man arriving home from work in those early days of separation a letter in the mail box was the straw that would break the camels back. More so the content than the letter itself for it signified to him the replacement of his duty to his family with an obligation to the state.

What may have happened within the mind of this man between the time he received his indictment to the time he undertook to end his life may be an experience that he fears to recall and share with others, as is the case with many wounded soldiers who take their untold stories to the grave.

Around eleven pm that night a few short hours later he walked from the remnants of his family home, down to the local railway line, his choice of self imposed execution. Unable to give consideration to the desperate thoughts of an engine driver locked into the unavoidable his only want was for the train to do its job. What came down the line that night was not the screech of breaks and a death wish, but the shuffle of feet and a youthful expression.
“Hey mister, you should come back in the morning, cause the next trains not till 6 o‘clock.”

It is an unusual but true story and perhaps the narrow gateway through which some return by default. Such stories however will remain untold without men of courage and writers of integrity and determination.

Bevan Berg

Wed 6th July 2005

Dangers of historic rape convictions

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 5:10 pm

Excerpts from RadioNZ Morning Report Wed 6th July 7.08 am

The families of four men convicted of rape wept at the High Court in Wellington yesterday as the verdicts were read out.

The rapes took place 16 years ago, and apart from the victim’s testimony there was no supporting or forensic evidence that the rapes took place.

Carolyn Day of the Auckland Sexual Abuse Help Foundation says this case may encourage women who have chosen not to bring forward rape complaints to re-consider. “I think women that may have buried that experience, or partly forgotten about it can be re-connected with that, and have a desire to come forward and do something about it.”

So is it possible to have a fair trial when events which are contended took place so long ago? To discuss this we are joined by Felicity Goodyear-Smith, an expert on sexual assault cases from Auckland University, and also from Auckland University Scott Optican, a senior lecturer in Criminal Law.

Felicity Goodyear-Smith firstly: do you think we can rely on the safety of such convictions?

“I think that there are dangers in taking very historical cases, because of the extreme difficulty presented in defending allegations that relate to the distant past. There are other countries that have what is called a Statute of Limitations, where you have a limited period of time to press charges; for instance most States of the United States have a Statute of Limitations generally from one to five years, and after that you can’t press charges.”

New Paternity Rules Under Fire

Filed under: Child Support,General,Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 3:51 pm

New rules aimed at making it easier to settle paternity disputes are under
fire even before they’ve come into force. Critics say couples will not always be able to prove who fathered a child because one partner will still be able to say “no” to DNA tests.

“You’re convicted without a trial at the moment” says paternity campaigner Gordon Dowler. He speaks from experience: it took him 20 years to prove he wasn’t the father of a child because the mother refused to allow tests.

Jim Bagnall of the Union of Fathers says: “Well I suppose it is an improvement, but the mother is still the gate-keeper and she can refuse.”

Watch Streaming Video of this item here

Clark defends smacking bill going to select committee

Filed under: General,Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 2:14 pm

A bill removing the legal defence of “reasonable force” for parents punishing their children should be examined by a parliamentary committee rather than dismissed out of hand, Prime Minister Helen Clark says.

Greens MP Sue Bradford’s private member’s bill that would repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act is expected to face its first reading in Parliament this month.

A poll by an Auckland paper published at the weekend showed more than 70 per cent of voters want parents to keep the right to use “reasonable force” to punish their children.

The survey showed 71.2 per cent of voters believed section 59 of the Crimes Act – which gave parents the legal defence of reasonable force – was needed. The polled revealed 21 per cent disagreed.

New act aims to make ‘McDonald’s dads’ history

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 2:02 pm

Chief Family Court Judge Peter Boshier says judges will interpret the new Care of Children Act to give both parents “optimum good quality time” with their children when the parents separate.

The new law also gives children the right to their own lawyers in separation tussles, gives grandparents and others in the wider family the right to seek parenting orders in the children’s interests, and opens Family Courts to the media.

Judge Boshier said a wording change from “custody” to “day-to-day care” of children meant both parents were now expected to exercise more parental responsibility.

“We have had too many parenting arrangements where one parent has not been parenting as much as they should,” he said.

“I think there will be a change in our attitude to the extent of the time that children will spend with each parent.

“It hasn’t been unusual for one parent to have custody the greater bulk of the time and the other simply to have ‘access’.

“Our thinking now is that may have been historically acceptable, but is no longer necessarily tenable.

Judge Boshier said the changes would reinforce the goal of reaching agreement without the need to go to court.

The Care of Children Act also gives judges a new power to jail parents who breach Family Court orders for up to three months, and increases the maximum fines to $2500.

Auckland District Law Society family law spokesman Stuart Cummings said the law change was “a watershed and an opportunity to do things differently”.

Fri 1st July 2005

Child Support Corruption.

Filed under: General — Downunder @ 1:06 pm

Child Support Corruption.

If child support is going to be the issue that the major political parties refuse to face purely for the financial implications of reviewing it, then it may well be the dog that bites them on the arse.

The average man suffers a harsh and destructive punishment, when he objects to child support on principle, and has his earning ability estimated so he must pay the maximum child support.

Compare this to the high paid academic objecting on the same principles, who normally would be required to pay the maximum amount of child support but is being allowed to pay half that amount.

Surely this betrays the philosophical face of the current administration, or perhaps those would be occupants of the incontestable moral high ground are claiming states prerogative.

If one hand is a false obligation surely the other is a false duty. The more pragmatic might ask – “Will the issue be ignored before the election and the corruption continue afterwards.” Regardless, such complicity betrays both a decent society and our children.

Our continuing battle to have child support reviewed will not be assisted if we either, remain in isolation and accept this sort of harassment and intimidation or if we put ourselves in voluntary isolation after accepting a state bribe.

Such situations illustrate to me a disturbing lack of unity amongst men in New Zealand and a furthering of the profound weakness developing in our society.

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