Urgent action needed to protect staff and young people at Te Puna Wai

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Young people and staff at Christchurch’s Te Puna Wai ō Tuhinapo youth justice facility are at serious risk every day, and urgent action must be taken to improve safety there, the Public Service Association says.

The facility’s been reviewed by outgoing Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills and has received the first "detrimental" rating included in his State of Care reports.

The Public Service Association says the Ministry of Social Development must take action.

"Last year, after a significant number of assaults on staff from the young people in Child Youth and Family care there, the PSA convened a governance group to take urgent action on safety," PSA national organiser Kathy Higgins says.

"PSA officials, senior management from Child Youth and Family and site managers met every fortnight to assess the ongoing problems at Te Puna Wai.

"As a result, staff received further training in health and safety and crisis intervention.

"We believe gains were made as a result, but late last year the Ministry disbanded the group and the situation has worsened since then."

Ms Higgins says the group must be reinstated urgently - more staff must be hired and both new and existing staff must receive quality training.

"Te Puna Wai deals with young people who have highly complex needs and can be volatile," Ms Higgins says.

"The young people at Te Puna Wai need proper care and support, so they can turn their lives around and stay out of the justice system.

"To do this, they need to be kept safe, and so do the people working with them.

"We call on the Ministry to make the urgent changes needed to ensure this happens."