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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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First Interview Panel Questions from Graeme

The Scenario
I have a few things I would appreciate and hope you would give consideration to please

First the bruises.
I don't have a medical background. I would refer the child to someone who has, a nurse, or a doctor, or go to the hospital to identify the source of the bruises.

Once, asked the obvious like "how did you get them?", the child could say "I fell over" and the bruises could be consistent with that. But what if the child did fell over after being pushed?? Same bruises different incident. One accidental, the other possibly deliberate. Our own Social Workers Code of Ethics, in my understanding clearly states "do not go outside of your skill range and never misrepresent your abilities or qualifications by doing something or giving advise you truly can not or should not give",i.e "refer on".

If a child makes a statement about how the bruises happen only a medical opinion could confirm without witnesses or anything else would be assuming. I have no medical background and some children do lie for fear and other reasons when they were abused and will not admit it, or on the other hand to get someone in trouble when nothing happened. Eg split step dad and mother up … etc

Second when being trained as a Social worker we had it drummed into us that CYF's have a special investigating unit as all were to do was gather the facts and be careful not to lead or contaminate evidence and never conduct an investigation or ask leading questions as this could affect any outcome for a convection. I did identify the bruising and did referrer it on to the experts doctors, school nurse and senior Social worker to review. Asking the school to monitor the child as they had the most contact with them in case things were proven to be none conclusive or otherwise. That took care of the safety of the child until things were investigated fully.

The point being if the Doctor, nurse identified the bruises from abuse or the child being neglected then we would follow up using the policy and procedures manuals to investigate an duly specialized/qualified staff.

So I an not aware of coming to a conclusion I did not rule out abuse or neglect neither did I say it was.

The key was ongoing monitoring and seeking advise and making sure the child knew who to talk to if it needed help eg, school teacher, nurse or social workers.
I would ask basic question like: "how did you get the bruises?", "did anyone else see the incident?", "Who did you tell afterwards?", "how long ago did it happen?", "Were there any adults or anyone else round when it happened?", "Where were your caregivers/parents?", "Did they seem concerned?", "what was their reaction?", "Did they seek help for you and if so how and who was involved?", "Do you bruise easily? How many have you had lately?", "Does any other child in the house have bruises?", "Who looks after you most of the time?", "How often are you out of their sight?", ex parent gone to the shop or child gone home from school with no parental supervision nor from anyone over the age of 14years old etc …

I would also check up on other siblings by asking the school or taking with them in general and if need be ask their friends. I would also check to see if there were any acholic or drug or mental health issues within the family.

Eg check with services, family doctor etc if needed. Only after having follow all the aforementioned could I be reasonably confident and coming to a conclusion. Even in my role as an advocate we do come across these issues.

Given I only had the scenario for 15 minutes I hope my recollection is correct of what I said. Given it was handwriting I doubt I would have gone into this much detail.

Now to Christine to her credit did read the scenario to me and made it clear I have only had 15 minutes and gave me the notepad and paper and I believe said it had to be handwriting. I can understand that for note taking but I would write rough notes then use the Dictaphone to go more in-depth if it was not suitable to use it in front of the clients. Then transfer them to the computer for writing up or burn the notes to audio CD or transcribe them to word.

Did no one notice I had a laptop with me with all the software needed to help me complete the task. I did point this out. That is what I am using now. Compete the difference between what I wrote then and outlined now?

That brings me to the other issue timeframes. It does take me longer to do written work and without using a computer I stick to words I thought I could spell which does change the structure of the sentences and not convey my understanding very well. I noted CY&F did not make allowance of my learning disorder or how this might affect the written scenario in the feedback.

The panel also noted that you did not appear to have experience in working with children and young people If child youth and family contact the trust and my last placement they would of found the opposite not to mention my time with Maori Youth fund. Not only that but also my time helping run Youth and young adults groups and yes the advocacy groups do deal with families.

My time at K-learning teaching teenagers and young adults should also have been considered along with my time getting the Certificate in Adult Teaching level 4/5 which was as part of the practicum working in these areas. Again checking my references and qualifications could have proven this and seeking additional information to back it up if needed.

Do you really think all my tutors would have allowed me to pass the course if I was unable to work with families and children?

Depiction

A Parent once asked me while I was advocating for them as I have no children myself why should parents listen to me as they could say I lack the experience from not raising children myself and on that grounds not qualified or have the right to advise them. My Answer was simple; I have a friend who is a heart surgeon he did not need to have a heart attack to know how the heart works. He went to medical school learnt, trained and then got the experience under supervision.

He is now one of the best heart surgeons in the world. I have family and been a part of families its not like I have lived in isolation from family problems and the many different dynamics they create. I have helped rise children and done things like babysitting which have help give me a different prospective.

I have also been a child once myself and a some what troubled one but come out of that Ok considering where I was heading.

I do agree going from advocacy to a working with a statutory organization would be a hard transition but not impossible. After having done advocacy for 8 years that is the main area of my skills and yes I agree I need to transfer that over and the only way that is going to happen is by retraining and experience.

I have an interesting thought to ponder:
One day a teacher seen a child painting only in back so she contacted the counselor as she thought this shows sadness and signs the child was not happy. The counselor observed and said this is out of my depth why don't we call in the psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist said the lack of colour was worrying and showed a dark sad hidden trauma the child had suffered and the people painted in the back ground were the abusers. The cleaner went up and asked the child why do you paint in back. The child said because it's the only colour left.

I do agree based on the feedback that CY&F they at the time based on the evidence they believe they had made the right decision based on their own conclusions. However I do think their view is distorted based on not checking up on my references and not allowing for my disability in the written scenario and the different way I think and express myself. That is evident by the feedback.

Closing thoughts.

At every point starting from doing the CAT4 when I was told I need to learn to read, write and spell before I attempted higher level education far above that which I am capable of doing. Four national qualifications later all the tutors more or less had reservations and misconceptions about my abilities.

Some tutors when they found out seen having me as extra work and burden for there already stretched resources. In some case that was true but not for very long in fact all it required was me getting things scanned into my computer, using the Dictaphone or keep asking questions till it sunk in.

In the end the whole class befitted by having more recourses I shared with them. It was a win-win and some f the tutors go there teaching recourses on disk which to them was helpful.

Every tutor I have ever had has come back to apologise and say while it has not been easy because they have had to adjust it has been rewarding and I more then measured up. I say this because I since some resistance to having me under the mainstream program from my phone call with Christine I could have misconstrued the tenor however need to point that out. I am straight up with people in organizations and once they realise I don't actually seek to contribute blame but rather a solution things work out.

In hindsight what I think I should of done is asked for half and hour longer and given the panel some information on dyslexia so they could have been more aware of the issues. Had I have done these two things I think the outcome would have been more favourable.

On that note I do have some advise for CY&F and that is next time someone identifies as having a disability you should always seek further clarification weeks before the interview on how to address the issues it creates to get a real perspective when comparing them with people who don't suffer from the same problem. Just a simple letter once the application is received seeking this could do it.

I really do hope that CY&F don't see my comments as me trying to be smart with them or disrespecting the panel as I can assure you that is not the case. I am trying to give you my different prospective to bridge the gap of misunderstanding and misconception as I see them. I don't assume to be right or expect the panel to agree with everything I have said. Diversity is good when there is no right or wrong answer as in this case.

I hope you see my forwardness not as arrogance or challenging the panels experience or views as I am clearly not in any position to do so and that would be foolishness on a number of levels. But I do have the right to have an opinion based on my own understand even if that is limited and distorted by my own lifetime experiences that needs adjustment like us all. That is what I am try to convey.

Its like the scenario of the car crash witnessed by three different people. When the police took the statements they could hardly believe the three people witnesses the same event. They all had different store's, Witness one describes different coloured cars. Witness two different directions and witness three who hit who first. The policeman said they are all liars. It turns out the first witness is colour blind, the second dyslexia so does not know left from right and the third had all the fact right because he had the best position was not colour blind and can tell his left from his right. As someone said sometimes there is three side to every story, what I say happened what you say happened and what really happened and somewhere in the middle the truth. The truth is like glasses if you don't get the right kind everything seems a little wacky what works for you might not work for me so well. Having dyslexia is much like wearing glasses that no one else can see thorough or use that could help them understand my predicament.

I hope that my views are clear as writing is not a strong point of mine and I hope this time that is taken into consideration as I have gone to great lengths to try and explain this in order to seek resolution. I say this because my letter is designed to create consideration and not offence so my word and sentence structure can leave a little to be desired and come across in a different manner then I indent and sometimes I am not able to see that for myself.

Table of Content  Page 2 of 28


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