Minister's response to Oranga Tamariki review
The review of Oranga Tamariki practice around the planned uplift of a Hastings baby in May shows significant failings by the Ministry and that the planned and funded changes to shift from a child crisis service to a proper care and protection service need to be accelerated, Children’s Minister Tracey Martin said today.
“I’m extremely disappointed in the review’s findings. Oranga Tamariki let this family down,” says Minister Martin.
“The review says Oranga Tamariki were right to be involved with the family and there were legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of the baby. But the way they went about things was wrong.
“This event should not have happened. Everyone involved has been negatively affected by it. But we now have a clear picture of what went wrong and what should have happened - and with that an increased motivation to press harder on the changes required to build the care and protection system all of our children deserve.”
The Minister said New Zealand has a poor record in protecting its children and the system change that started with the creation of Oranga Tamariki was the right approach.
“We’re building a far better child care system. From 1 July this year we invested more than $1 billion into funding the new operating model for Oranga Tamariki. That is about looking after children better and trying to stop them coming into care.
“For the first time, for example, we’re building intensive intervention services to work with at-risk families to help them keep their children safe at home.”
The Minister said that the review highlighted that practice changes needed to support the wider policy shifts being made.
“I’m pleased that the chief executive has responded to the review changing the processes for taking children into care and putting more resources into holding Family Group Conferences so family and whanau have a chance to have their say.
“In addition, I want Oranga Tamariki to:
• review the subsequent child provisions to make sure there are no unintended consequences from these. I also want to ensure that there is a path back for those parents who have turned their lives around.
• improve the internal complaints process, and
• to drive culture change and better support the frontline.
“The staff I meet are absolutely committed to caring for kids and they have a really difficult job. But frontline practice has to reflect the bigger changes we want to make.
“We need to do better for all children, but a focus must be to partner with Maori to turn the results around for Maori.
“Strategic partnerships – real partnerships with iwi and Maori so they are involved in helping their families and children – are vital to achieve these outcomes. I’m hoping our partners can be involved in these processes so that we get them right.”
Mrs Martin said turning Oranga Tamariki into a different type of Ministry from its predecessor is a big job and was always going to take time.
“I’m hoping that a positive out of this bad situation is the heightened resolve at all levels of the Ministry to accelerate the change that we collectively need to make.”