Friday, February 5, 2016

Phillip Goodwin: A Pioneer of Child Welfare in New Zealand

Here is a page I completed this afternoon on my Great Grandfather Phillip Goodwin. Growing up he was always a very elderly man and its hard to imagine him in the position he held in his younger years.
New Zealand as a country was always far ahead of its time in the development of its social welfare systems, and "Da" as he was known to all his family was one of the very early pioneers in its development.

I have several documents written by Lewis Anderson. He was a Superintendant of the Child Welfare Department after having worked with my Great Grandfather earlier in his career.
I think Lewis' words themselves best describe the role "Da"had in the development of Child Welfare in New Zealand.

Tribute to Phillip Goodwin by Lewis Anderson  dated 29 November 1976
In order to explain why I have such a high regard for Mr Goodwin, I should first mention that I was the last Superintendent of Child Welfare before the Child Welfare Division went out of existence in early 1972. 
Phillip Goodwin was for some years a senior colleague of mine, He was one of the pioneers of Child Welfare and social work in New Zealand. I owe more than I could describe in words to his influence and leadership and example.
He was the first Child Welfare Officer in Hamilton, undertaking social work with children and parents in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, King Country and Hauraki Plains areas. His appointment there preceded the coming into force of the Child Welfare Act 1925, on 1 April 1926 and he originally was designated as a Juvenile Probation Officer. My first memory of him was when he visited the Frankton Junction school where I was a small boy pupil (and, I add, not the one he came to enquire about).
At an early stage of life of what was first called the Child Welfare Branch of the Department of Education after the Act came into force, he came to Wellington to take charge of the Wellington district and virtually to introduce the new Child Welfare set-up at a time when Magistrates, Police and others were naturally a little suspicious of the changed procedures for dealing with delinquent and deprived children. Phillip Goodwin demonstrated foresight and, in particular, courage, in handling this situation. No one in the service did more than he did to ensure the success of the new system. His was an outstanding record of achieving the co-operation of other involved departments and officials. He trained many people on his own staff who later occupied top positions in Social work in New Zealand. A list of those persons would read like a biographical history of the present social work services .
Before I cane to the Head Office of the Child Welfare Division in Wellington early in 1945 from a field position in Whangarei, I was of course familiar with Phillip Goodwin’s high standing. For a period before ill health forced his premature retirement I saw a good deal of him personally, even though we worked in different offices. Since that time my tremendous respect for the man and for his achievements has led me to retain contact with him through correspondence and occasional visits whenever he came to Wellington from his home in Auckland.
Phillip Goodwin is, of course a man of complete integrity, He is a man of compassion. Those things go almost without the need to say them. No one could have inspired the abiding respect of his colleagues if he had not been scrupulously honest and fair and humane in all his dealings and been a man of upright character.
Personal letter from Lewis Anderson to Phillip Goodwin dated 20 April 1983 on the occasion of Phillip’s 100th birthday( excerpt)
In the early 20’s when I was a small boy at the Frankton Junction Primary School, the Juvenile Probation Officer from Hamilton called at the school one day to interview two young scalliwags in my class who had been up to some mischief in the community. The event is so indelibly impressed on my memory that I could today quote the names of the boys, but I wont.
The Headmaster must have told us beforehand who was coming because I still vividly remember the feeling of apprehension that swept over us all when this fearsome official arrived. He was, of course, you. I don't think we heard you speak but the very sight of such a being as a Juvenile Probation Officer put the fear of God into us all. Maybe thats why I have never  been before a Court as an offender in all my life, not even for a parking offence.
When the Child Welfare Act 1925 came into force you became the very first Child Welfare Officer in the Waikato.
Many years later, I too, was a Child Welfare Officer stationed in Hamilton. After service in other districts and after being rejected for war service on heath grounds, I eventually was appointed in 1945, to a Head Office job in Wellington. You were then in charge of the Wellington District Office. When I met you, I immediately recognised you as the earlier visitor to the Frankton school but I'm sure I didn’t tell you.
In no time at all I discovered that, instead of being the fearsome creature of my memories, you were the kindliest and most compassionate of human beings. You were then as you still are, a man of upright character and complete integrity , demonstrating in everything you did the very highest moral standards.
Your work, whether you knew it or not was based on your influence. There must be great numbers of adult people who, over the past 60 years or more have enjoyed happier and more useful lives because of your influence on them .
Your training of staff who later became senior officers in key positions was one of the dividends the Department gained from your years of service.  You were a pioneer of social work with children in New Zealand and you deserve the thanks of a grateful country. God Bless you Phillip. You are truly a good man.

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