Teen calls for CYF girls' wing in Auckland

Teen calls for CYF girls' wing in Auckland

A 15-year-old girl taken out of home and sent to an out-of-town youth justice facility is asking for a wing to be re-opened in Auckland.

She was 14 and four months pregnant, but because Auckland doesn't have a facility for girls, she was sent to Christchurch and separated from her family for four weeks.

Her baby boy is due next month, but at 15 she's not much more than a child herself – and to her mum she's still just her little girl.

"Being a mother you just want to be there to help support them and nurture them through that process, [to] prepare for the baby. I just felt that was kind of taken from us," her mother told 3 News.

The West Auckland girl is legally too young for 3 News to identify. In May, after being involved in serious offending, she spent a night in a police cell before being sent to Christchurch's youth justice facility.

"It felt like I was waiting years because you don't see anything else except for walls," she says.

"It really hurts people, you just see how much it hurts people when they're not with their family and that's when they finally realise the things that they did, they shouldn't have done if they wanted to see their family."

There are no longer beds for female youth offenders in New Zealand's biggest city – the wing moved to Palmerston North in May. 

"Where does that being the right decision for the whanau come into play?" her mother asks.

Child Youth and Family (CYF) says it closed the girls' wing in Auckland because it needed more places for boys, and the majority of girls were from outside of the area.

Yet CYF's own figures show of the 29 girls sent to the new Palmerston North wing, 13 have been from the greater Auckland area.

This case follows one that emerged this week of a 16-year-old girl who spent four nights in a police cell before being moved out of Auckland.

The youth court judge said at the time:

"The department needs to ensure appropriate arrangements are made for female youth as well as male youth, particularly given this is the biggest city in the country."

While CYF says it doesn't believe it needs to re-open a wing for girls in Auckland, Minister for Social Development Anne Tolley says youth justice facilities are being looked at as part of a wider CYF overhaul. More community-based options are being considered.

3 News