Sir Owen Glenn: Killing of children still the issue

By Owen Glenn

Irrespective of recent resignations, the reasons for the creation of the inquiry that bears his name still exist. Sir Owen Glenn explains why this important work needs to continue.

Lives are at stake every day in New Zealand, says billionaire businessman Owen Glenn. Photo / Dean Purcell
Lives are at stake every day in New Zealand, says billionaire businessman Owen Glenn. Photo / Dean Purcell

Judging from the rather intense media coverage of recent days, I am delighted there is so much interest in the work of the Glenn Inquiry.

On the other hand, I'm dismayed by some of the reactions and twisting of basic facts that have been featured in various quarters. I just wish that some of this energy and focus could have been directed to more productive purposes.

The resignations of people involved with the inquiry have caused some sceptics to question the integrity, energy and capability of the overall effort. I find this disappointing. They might have been better placed to instead ask the questions that I, and others committed to the inquiry, want answered:

Why is it that between seven and 10 children, on average, are killed in New Zealand each year by someone who is supposed to be caring for them?

How come 152,800 care and protection notifications (triggered by police callouts) were made to Child, Youth and Family in the 12 months to June 30 last year?

What kind of society is it where for the five years to June last year, violent offences towards children increased by a staggering 84 per cent?

In places such as New Zealand that are supposed to be safe and secure, why is family violence such a major problem - and such a resource-sapping quandary? More importantly, how has this been allowed to go on year after year?

The future of this country, particularly the safety of its children, is clearly bigger than any one person - including me - which is why I was surprised by the resignation of former director Ruth Herbert.

I would have hoped that the very reason the inquiry exists would have united people to continue to support it, rather than question its integrity and credibility.

I accept that from any undertaking fallout is inevitable. I accept some people may also think all this is about a so-called wealthy businessman who is used to getting his own way. But that all seems so irrelevant when you think about what is happening in our homes, all around our beautiful country - this is a national tragedy. So rest assured the Glenn Inquiry will continue and our focus remains squarely on listening to the voices of those most affected and letting their voices, so often unheard, shape what we need to do.

It is essential that we have talented people involved - which we do. Key staff have re-affirmed their commitment and, most importantly, their dedication and focus for the cause. We have plenty of experts to draw on.

Think-tank members considering whether to stick with us will make their own minds up in the next few days, but I am hopeful they will want to continue to contribute.

I have the utmost confidence in newly appointed chief executive Kirsten Rei in leading the inquiry, as I do in the new structure of a governance board which I believe strengthens the integrity and independence of our effort.

It was never about being "top down"; it is about using the best practices to ensure that we get the best evidence and data, with rigorous testing, and evaluative assessment.

People's lives, particularly children and their well-being, are at stake, every single day. They deserve the strongest possible independent advocacy and support. The latest scaremongering is apparently about the safety of information given to the inquiry. The confidentiality of information is of utmost importance and a review of current standards is taking place to see whether this needs strengthening.

I was thrilled Dame Cath Tizard has agreed to remain as patron. I understand in a radio interview she suggested we should change the name of the Glenn Inquiry. I don't care what it is called.

I do care that every person, especially children, have the right to feel safe. They are looking to us.

- Herald on Sunday

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