Continued Urgent Call For Full Independent Royal Commission Of Inquiry Into Oranga Tamariki
Advocacy groups battling for the rights of parents and families in disputes with Oranga Tamariki continue to call for an urgent Royal Commission of Inquiry to examine all aspects of the Government agency’s operation and the legislation under which it was established.
Louise Hutchinson, who in May last year called a hui of concerned people under the name of Whanau First, said: "We continue to be overwhelmed by the number of parents and families, along with survivors of State Care making contact asking for support to engage in a constructive manner with Oranga Tamariki."
"It is clear there are major issues throughout the country," she said. "The depression and despair and stories behind it are horrendous."
"We genuinely fear for people and their families and believe the current state of mental distress across the nation including the significantly high rates of suicide in Aotearoa are in direct correlation to Oranga Tamariki and the former state agency Child, Youth and Family (CYFS), because of the impact and trauma of child removal which has continued over numerous decades in New Zealand," she said.
"We have been inundated with stories from affected families whose experiences highlight unjustified removals, false allegations, and the complete breakdown of a complaints procedure in their dealing with Oranga Tamariki."
"Any belief that the Minister has that the complaints process is working is misguided," she said. "One of the most common causes of anger towards Oranga Tamariki is that people are not being heard."
She said that unlike most other Government departments, there is no "robust" Complaints Service for those who concerned about the actions of Oranga Tamariki staff.
"They have a Feedback and Complaints process, through which a complaint can be made, and where they decide whether the person is making a complaint or just offering feedback," she said. "There are hundreds and hundreds of people who haven’t been heard, many have hardly been represented. They have been blocked from being heard and stopped from being represented, and that is why there must be a full inquiry."
"There needs to be independent investigations into the conduct, culture, processes and policies of Oranga Tamariki, the effect of the Family Court processes and the impact of child removal on the wellbeing of our nation,": she said.
The call for the urgent Royal Commission of Inquiry to be established would include wide ranging powers including referring suspected criminal offending by staff to the Police, Crown, or Solicitor General for prosecution.