Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Govt launches serious abuse inquiry

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A Child, Youth and Family report into the care received by a nine-year-old girl who suffered "horrific" abuse at the hands of her parents has found no single glaring failure by any of the 12 state agencies involved.

The report, which will not be released until charges against the girl's parents have been heard, found there was "no single glaring failure on the part of any of the agencies involved with the child's family", Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said.

However, Ms Bennett has now initiated an independent ministerial inquiry into what she said was a "horrific" case and the worst she had seen.

Former Ombudsman Mel Smith has been appointed to lead the inquiry, beginning immediately and reporting back by the end of March.

The extent to which the numerous agencies involved with the family shared information with each other and whether agencies were "sufficiently child-focused" are among matters that will be investigated by the inquiry, said Ms Bennett.

The report will also examine whether the multiple agencies and individuals involved with the family in the lead-up to the girl's abuse took all appropriate actions to ensure her safety.

"Every available resource was provided in this case, including some of our most expensive and trusted intervention models for at-risk families, yet a child suffered appalling abuse and I want to know why," she said.

The girl was taken into Child, Youth and Family custody on November 15 after police found her hiding in a cupboard at a West Auckland house.

Her scalp had been torn away from her head while she was being dragged by her hair, she had been beaten with weapons including a hammer, broomstick and machete, and her toenail had been pulled off and salt and boiling water had been poured on the wound.

Her parents face 36 abuse and neglect-related charges.

They were granted interim name suppression to protect the identity of their daughter and her siblings, who are also in CYF care.

Another of the girl's relatives has been charged with sexually abusing her while she was in CYF care.

The girl was placed with a new foster family and Ms Bennett said she was now doing well.

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