Minister of Education Hekia Parata would have known about seclusion rooms for more than a year and did nothing to stop their use until she was publicly shamed into doing so, the Green Party said today.
The Minister has today proposed to prohibit seclusion in schools and early childhood education services.
“It’s a bit rich for Hekia Parata to now claim credit for making seclusion rooms illegal, when she could have taken this action more than a year ago when seclusion rooms were first in the media,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.
“The Ministry of Education set up an advisory group after very troubling reports but this had no deadline, or no urgency of action. The proposed course of action was to legitimise the use of seclusion rooms with a set of guidelines that were not even enforceable.
“It’s hard to believe that Minister Parata wouldn’t have known about seclusion rooms by that point, because her own Ministry was working on the issue, and because of the media coverage.
“Instead of acting to ban seclusion rooms at the earliest possible moment, she allowed their use to continue for more than a year.
“It took the Green Party confronting the Minister in Parliament about seclusion rooms, as well as media pressure, to fix this disgrace.
“Why did the Minister wait over a year after becoming aware of seclusion rooms to ask schools to be surveyed on their use in schools around New Zealand?
“There have been far too many children around Aotearoa, both in special schools and in mainstream schools, being placed in seclusion rooms over the last year while the Minister had an advisory group working on guidelines to keep them there.
“Hekia Parata’s legacy will be leaving defenceless children in locked rooms while she did nothing to protect them,” Ms Delahunty said.