Sympathies with children following Roxburgh village closure

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PAM.JONES

@alliedpress.co.nz

The Roxburgh district will rebuild after the closure of Stand Children’s Services’ children’s village in Roxburgh, but the community’s sympathies are with those whose jobs are gone and the children who will miss out on the service, Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan says.

However, as well as mourning the loss of their livelihoods, staff affected by the closure of the village would also be grieving for the children they would no longer be able to work with, Mr Cadogan said.

“When I listened to those staff sing their waiata at the public meeting held in Roxburgh last week, I felt strongly that they weren’t singing for themselves, but they were singing for the children that they help, and that they will no longer be able to help through a residential, rehabilitative facility,” Mr Cadogan said.

The closure of the children’s village was confirmed on Tuesday.

from the Roxburgh village, and another 32 from the Stand village in Otaki, which is also closing.

Stand chief executive Dr Fiona Inkpen said the closures had been forced by a lack of funding.

Stand had not had an increase in government funding for nine years and had used up all its reserves, Dr Inkpen said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Children Tracey Martin came in for harsh criticism during a public meeting in Roxburgh this week, where Ms Ardern was accused of breaking her election promise to focus on children’s wellbeing.

Otago social services organisations spoken to last week said the closure of the Roxburgh village would be a “huge loss”.

Mr Cadogan said there was no alternative to the residential trauma facility.

Dr Inkpen confirmed southern children would be unable to attend the nearest other South Island Stand village, in Christchurch, as the waiting list there was too long, and only Canterbury children would be able to stay there.

She praised the efforts of southern mayors to save the Roxburgh children’s village.

“The children and the families of your district have very, very, honourable mayors, and they are to be significantly commended. Every single one of them put the needs of children at the top of their agenda.”

Mr Cadogan said he was confident Roxburgh would “bounce back” from the “hefty economic blow” the closure of the Roxburgh village represented.

“I have total faith in Roxburgh and its community. However, that faith doesn’t help the people that have just got their redundancy notices today.”