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Graemea & CYF New Zealand

Graeme Axford documents his Employment dispute with Child Youth & Family, (CYF) New Zealand

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What I really think of CYF

The way I look at the problem is simple, If CYF staff kept to the State Services Commission and Social Workers Registration Board Codes of Conduct (SWRB) along with the NZASW Code of ethics, CYF and its staff would not be in its present predicament.

These codes in themselves very clearly explain what to do if conundrums exist when one code breaches the other or when employment and position affects once ability to comply with the codes when conflict arises. This happens.

People might say well, "what if the Social Worker doesn't belong to these organizations i.e when, for instance, CYF staff are not registered?".

The codes have a number of similarities. Examples all the codes to a varying degree express the need for respect, honesty, and empowerment. The SSC code of conduct reflects a more politicly neutral line which is expected from a Government employees but nevertherless agrees with the other codes in relations to the basic personal qualities needed by all, which I would have hoped went without saying.


SSC Code of Conduct
Official duties honestly, faithfully and efficiently carried out with professionalism and integrity.Respecting the rights of the public and their colleagues.

Public servants must not bring the Public Service into disrepute through their private lives. State Servics Commission, ISBN 0-478-24481-9

Social Workers Registration Board Codes of Conduct (SWRB)

Applying the principles of natural justice.
Accountability for decisions taken.
Exercising the duty of care..

In other words what both codes are trying to say is, be honest and act with integrity. People with integrity are transparent, meaning accountable for their decisions and actions.Efficiency could also been taken to mean faithfully applying the duty of care.

In many of the cases I have heard about mistakes happening because these qualities were not evident. The staff were both qualified and experienced.

When egos get involved from either side and become the driving force no one wins, people lose sight of their Standard guiding principles and loose themselves in power plays.

If CYF are truly about empowering families, facilitating change, strengths based practice and insuring the safety of children then that's what I will be signing up for. I don't believe in self-deception and would rather kill my career then compromise my moral beliefs (ref to NZAS code for more details) to which I have abided and practiced for the past 8 years..

I do realize I skipped over a comment above about the codes and conundrums one could face. There is a few exceptions as I see it so far and that's the political neutrality expected from a government employee, required by the State Services Commission code of Conduct.If the government or organizations breaches or takes away peoples basic human rights then I would take that up with them, keeping with both the NZASW and SWRB Codes relevant guide lines.

If you read the WebPages like Panic, Menz and the famous CYFSwatch you will hopefully understand why I have made these comments...

Having said that, as an example, in my own case as outlined in this webpage, the lack of accountability and integrity shows a breach of these codes as exemplified throughout.

There is also a number of reports on that don't put CYF in a good light and some politicians from all sides of parliament have called into question their performance and actions for a number of years but to no avail.

A pattern is emerging in the long history of public complains addressed to CYF ,mainly in three areas:
Lack of training, lack of experience and lack of qualified staff.
My belief is that these criticisms are justified to a point. But personally the biggest problem I am aware of has nothing to do with the above, but with moral integrity, respect and a sense of justice.

No course training experience or academic qualification can change someone's core values, if they are inheritingly different to those expected of a Social worker as outlined in the codes.

Someone known to me within CYF I consider racist even after having completed the masters in Social Work.. I also consider this person to be a power and control freak according to what their own family says. Yet they can get a job with CYF and I can't despite of being qualified with a lesser qualification but meeting the required SWRB standard for registration.

I might have dyslexia which creates literacy and disabilities issues but I do have very strong moral fiber as my 8 years in advocacy proves. With me what you see is what you get the other difference is I will not bury my head in the sand when the going gets tough. I hold myself and others accountable to the same standards outlined in the codes.

The values CYF claim to use as guiding principles are great but don't seem to fit their actions of late including the handling of my case. The fact I am standing up to CYF now shows I will not back down or compromise what is happening nor ignore it. I like being upfront and it gives the chance for people to address or challenge in a receptacle manner.

I am not saying I am always right or will have a perfect track record but I am open to listening changing and learning. Unlike CYF I see mistakes (which I would rather not happen) as an opportunity to put things right and learn from them. After all we are all human there for not perfect but that's no excuse for not trying harder.

I have many friends I have trained with and they are good people hopefully they will not get sucked into what is currently going within CYF as evidenced by the media.

The CYF staff I know are truly good people but that can not be said about all their fallow colleagues. I have had former tutors and other staff who since walked from the organizations warn me what I am in for and the battle I face with the public and staff getting employed CYF should that ever happen?.

I feel sorry for Mr Hughes who had done a great job of getting the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) Work and Income running. When the last CEO quit and the Government could not find a replacement he got landed with CYF again.

After all the national Mp Judith Collins summed it up quite nicely when she said "I don't know what they will do when the current Chief Executive, Peter Hughes, resigns from MSD; perhaps merge MSD/CYF and the Ministry of Health"
(National Party Northern Region Conference 30 April 200)

The fact is CYF had problems long before MR Hughes had it and they needed to be sorted before and still do now that he has it back. Looking after CYF would be a full time job on its own and the fact no one wants the job when it was advertised really says it all. I wish MR Hughes threaded to resign unless the government does something about CYF. That is no reflection of MR Hughes abilities as up until he got CYF back his track record was good.

I hope Mr Hughes you would not be happy with CYF performances and the more bad press CYF get the less likely people are to report child abuse to CYF.

CYF are doing themselves and the community they are meant to help a disservice. The public, some politicians, staff caregivers and victims are really pissed off at CYF which seems to be getting out of control. How can that be helpful with all this infighting, bad publicity which only demoralizes your own staff?

So MR Hughes the buck stop with you as they Hon Ruth Dyson states it seem you need to point out to her how lucky they are to have you and lay down a few demands. I don't think either you or the public are getting a fir deal out of the merger. However MR Hughes it seem you as the CEO are the only person to whom we can take out issues up with so maybe you should finally speak out.

After all if the Government threatens to fire you or you resign they are in the shit to put it bluntly. How many more Kids have to die, family ripped apart by or because of CYF mistakes. I hope MR Hughes you have compassion, empathy and a since of justice for not only your clients but also the staff and deal with the problems as they just keep getting bigger the longer this goes on for.

That web blog CYFSWATCH New Zealand would worry me because it seems things have gotten out of hand and something is going to blow soon. Your staff are in the firing line along with client's caregivers and the organization as a whole.

So yes in spite of all this I am still ready and willing to work with CYF in full knowledge of what I am heading into.

CYF need staff like me, the very thing they resist. CYF need to learn how to relate to people and defuse things in an honest manner.

Graeme Axford

Links and sources links to which I got the information off to justly my claims.'s/jan28to41.pdf
Bruce SImpson at Aardvark has a CYFS story which is well worth a read. ... The arrogance of CYFS really shines through in that story
CYFS gets 3 out of 10 for child care
CYFS practices appal British social workers
Saturday February 03, 2007,

Table of Content  Page 23 of 28


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