Friday, 28 August 2009

Children’s Rights on a Shoestring - The Jersey Way?

We at “The Voice” attended another Scrutiny Panel hearing today with Health and Social Services being in the “hot seat” but as usual it was the same “cosy club” performance and you would never have guessed that this little community has been exposing dreadful scandals like that at Haut De La Garenne (HDLG) and the alleged hospital “suspicious deaths”.

The Health Minister Deputy Ann Pryke seemed to think that although there was not enough money to fund existing services that her department could still cope with a population increase to ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND. The Scrutineers never really challenged this extraordinary claim and nobody asked either if the HDLG was a factor frightening away potential staff (as alleged in Guernsey) and neither the politicians nor their highly paid Civil Servants knew how many staff at Health were currently suspended!

Nevertheless, we took the opportunity to interview Deputy Judy Martin (Assistant Health Minister) about her progress with the “Williamson Report” and we remain very concerned that lack of funding and lack of urgency will ensure that Children’s Services are deficient for many years to come.

The Scrutiny Committee consisted of Senator Alan Breckon, Deputy Geoff Southern and Deputy Debbie Da Sousa. Witnesses were Deputy Ann Pryke (Health Minister) Deputy Judy Martin (Assistant Health Minister) and three senior Health Civil Servants. Two Scrutiny Officers were also present along with three members of the public including a couple of members from Team Voice.

Deputy Pryke refused to be interviewed but it was not all bad news because “The Voice” was allowed to video the committee proceedings, so that was a small victory.
Below is the interview kindly granted to us by Deputy Judy Martin.

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.


Anonymous said...

Misguided woman just doing what she is told to do and saying what she is told to say. Most likely with sanctions attached to failure.

I thats what you call responsible in Jeresey then I'm afraid for those at the mercy of the evil rich...

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for keeping us informed on this incredibly important topic. It is just not practical for many of us to get to town for scrutiny meetings. Sometimes it seems you are ask better questions than the scrutiny panel members.

Anonymous said...

What a tragic interview. Deputy Martin refers to the Scrutiny Sub Panel Report published in July this year on the "Coordination of Services for Vulnerable Children." It is 138 pages long. All words, no pictures and includes a single reference to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Not in any meaningful way but just an aside about the age when a child becomes an adult.It was written by Senator Breckon and Deputies Trevor Pitman, Roy Le Herissier and Geoff Southern

The sub-panel report is supposedly looking at issues raised by the 31 page long Williamson Report "An Inquiry into Child Protection in Jersey" which ignored CRC too.

We look forward to the next Report which will surely be 300 pages long and equally useless.

We have had previous reports of course by Katy Bull and the Howard League (the latter actually included a brief text of CRC)but our new improved "scrutiny" based system thrives on this very outpouring of waffle because it gives our lack-lustre politicians some purpose and a structure to work within. Without a scrutiny system, the cafes around the Royal Square would be filled with our non-ministerial representatives desperately seeking some political purpose or just feeding the pigeons.

If this island does ever ratify CRC - as the States have promised - then the whole system that deals with all aspects of the lives of children will need to be looked at and reformed "root and branch." It won't just be about children in care or custody, or their education, or housing standards,or treatment in the Courts or in employment or recreation, health, welfare, poverty or relationships with parents, family life and much much more and it all has to be provided and safeguarded within a non-discriminatory legal framework so that the rights of all children are enforcable and not doled out on a vague charitable half baked basis.

The already reduced Williamson plan that Deputy Martin is wasting her time on will just perpetuate the same old worn out system that guarantees that children will continue to be abused in one form or another.

The starting point for the proper protection of children in Jersey is the CRC. There is no better document on offer. It is the universal standard that the rest of the world is trying to achieve and we can benefit from the work already done all over the world by people who understand the issues and the problems.

So please Deputy Martin save yourself those 50 backward steps and the £3.9 milions budget of taxpayers money and start afresh with a plan that will accommodate CRC and won't have to be torn up as useless in just a few years.

Anonymous said...

In defence of deputy Martin. I think she is a very hard working states member and her intentions are honourable and well meaning. I am sorry to say she might be a little naive and even trying to punch way above her weight.

I don't think she has the slightest clue of the mammouth task of ratifying the CRC and its implications. Believing it can be done on about a million quid a year is fanciful at best.

Jersey is renowned the world over for its appalling treatment of children and I don't think deputy Martin and a couple of quid are going to do anything to change this.

But full resepct to her for trying.

Anonymous said...

It is strange but the army of people who claim to be concerned about child abuse scandals and hanging the paedos don't seem to have anything sensible to say about positive moves to improve chidrens rights in Jersey. If they do, why don't they engage with discussions such as this rather than endless discussions about non-existent murdered children at HDLG?