Ministry for Children apologises for 'pretty big screw-up' that left woman scared for her safety

Credit: Newhsub

The Ministry for Children is apologising and offering to help relocate a woman who was left fearing for her safety after calling officials with concerns her neighbour's children were being mistreated.

The woman, who cannot be named, called the Ministry for Children telling them a person who lived on her street was mistreating her three children, and that they weren't going to school.

On Friday, a letter confirming her complaint was sent to her. The problem is, the ministry addressed it to the person she was complaining about, and she's now receiving threats of violence.

The woman says she will have to flee her home - and the ministry is now apologising and offering to help relocate the woman and her family.

"I just feel like I've been put in it, I feel like I've put in it something dreadful," the woman said.

"How do you possibly get it so wrong?"

Greg Versalko, Oranga Tamariki spokesperson admitted to Newshub that "it's a pretty big screw up, isn't it?"

"It's a major problem on our behalf and we apologise sincerely for that. We have done quite a bit of work with the lady over the last couple of days, but it is also about our processes and procedures."

"We have spoken to the staff member concerned and we are reminding all our staff to be far more vigilant with the info they are holding."

The woman says the person called her flatmate threatening violence against her. She then called police, who is now investigating.

"I need to move. I do not feel safe in my home any more. This is where it's got to everytime I go through an outside door I'm locking it."

Mr Versalko said Victim Support, social workers and the police have now all been called in to help with the situation.

"I was gutted by it - it should not happen. We should never do that. We take these situations seriously, it happens occasionally and irrespective of this, it is just not good enough," he said.

"We are very concerned for the woman, that's why we made contact with her over the weekend and as recently as a couple of hours ago.

"I am concerned for her but I am concerned she is in a place that is safe and her kids are well.

"I will take it personally on my back to ensure our staff are properly instructed, have the right information and to make sure this doesn't happen. I'd be gutted if this happens again."

The ministry deals with up to 2000 calls a day and sends or emails about 250 letters.

It says mistakes like this are very, very rare but the staff member who made the mistake are now being spoken to.  

During the Newshub interview with the woman, she received another call from the ministry. At her request, they offered to help move her and her family to a safer location.

The woman says she's grateful for the support but is unlikely to contact the ministry in future.

Her original complaint over the claims of mistreatment of children is being followed up.

Newshub.