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Career for Child Abuser
April 23, 2011 permalink
After Kylie TeKani was convicted of three charges of cruelty to a child and assault with a weapon, she enrolled in a training course for New Zealand social workers. Children in her care, aged 5, 6 and 8 years, were beaten with a broom handle, had to rummage in rubbish bins for food and were often locked outside of their Penguin Grove home until dark.
Abuser let into social work course
Te Wananga o Aotearoa has admitted its vetting system failed after a woman who had been convicted of cruelty to a child was allowed to enrol in a social work degree.
Kapi-Mana News was contacted by a former student at Te Wananga, concerned that tutors of the first-year certificate in social service (biculturalism in practice) and follow-up bachelor of social work (biculturalism in practice) courses were unaware that Kylie TeKani was taking classes at the Porirua campus.
Ms TeKani was sentenced to eight months' home detention in 2008 after pleading guilty to three charges of cruelty to a child and assault with a weapon.
Children in her care, aged 5, 6 and 8 years, were beaten with a broom handle, had to rummage in rubbish bins for food and were often locked outside of their Penguin Grove home until dark.
Ms TeKani's partner, Norman Makai, received five years in prison.
The person who contacted Kapi-Mana News did not want to be identified, but knew of at least one other student that had withdrawn from the social work course, who had been "struggling to sit in the same room as her [Ms TeKani]".
"I can understand all this about people having second chances in life, I really do, but studying to become a social worker? That's not right, considering the offences against children."
The former student said the "bigger issue here" is that of police vetting. It states on the relevant webpage for the Te Wananga social work courses that police background checks are carried out.
"No police checks were ever done on me, I know this for sure.
"If they had been done properly on everyone, they would have found the information out about Kylie.
"The tutors were not aware of this. How many others [enrolled] have serious convictions? There needs to be some answers."
A spokesman for Te Wananga confirmed the 2010 social service certificate applicants were not given mandatory police checks by the tertiary provider as per procedure due to a "human error", thus some of these people are now students of the bachelor course.
"We have instigated a complete review around this blatant breach of policy ... to ensure this cannot happen again. The staff member concerned has been reprimanded and will undergo intensive training around the importance of adhering to our policies."
The spokesman added there had been "disruption" of police vetting due to a new system being used, but was confident a more efficient checking process was now in place.
Claiming privacy reasons, Te Wananga would not say whether Ms TeKani was still studying at the campus, but reiterated,
"We are in the process of completing police checks on all first-year [bachelor] degree students".
"We are the largest provider of social service degree graduates in the country [and] there is high demand for [them].
"There are criteria which exclude those with certain criminal convictions from being approved by the Social WelfareRegistration Board and police checks are also required prior to students being approved placement."
Sensible Sentencing Trust's Garth McVicar said he was "appalled" by the situation.
"The question has to be whether [Ms TeKani] is suitable material to be a social worker? The answer is obviously no, she's not, and that's why police checks are in place."