Release: Govt ignores damage of boot camps

Correspondence released under the Official Information Act reveals the Government’s boot camp concept is not backed by the military that is expected to run it.

The New Zealand Defence Force will not staff military-style boot camps for youth because it will put its personnel’s safety and wellbeing at risk, Labour’s children spokesperson Willow-Jean Prime said.

Newly released documents show the NZDF warned the Government that military-style training does not work for complex participants and has previously resulted in serious mental harm of staff, and an increase in physical assaults on defence personnel.

"NZDF has made it clear that new military style academies should not be likened to its Limited-Service Volunteers (LSV) programme as they are eight-week courses run for people wanting to get jobs, not custodial sentences for offending youth.

"Yet, the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet persist with their references to the LSV programme as one that 'works', despite the office of the Chief of Defence writing to Defence Minister Judith Collins asking for the Government to correct this inaccuracy.

"It would seem Christopher Luxon’s Cabinet has a communications issue, as ministers continue to use LSV as though it is how the Government’s boot camp dream will be brought to life.

"Just last week the Prime Minister said he doesn't care about what people say about whether boot camps work or not – he wanted to try something different. Well, perhaps he will listen to those with experience, and make the call to stop the nonsense once and for all.

"We know boot camps did not work in the past. Sending these children to boot camps, most of whom have experienced abuse and suffered deep trauma, could cause further harm. The LSV was not designed for children.

"This isn't a new idea, it's failed before and it risks failing again," Willow-Jean Prime said.

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