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Sepuloni Takes ACT’s OT Initiative But Not Far Enough, Ignores Vigil

“Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni has taken inspiration from my proposed amendments on the Oversight of Oranga Tamariki System and Children and Young People’s Commission Bill, but she hasn’t taken it far enough,” says ACT’s Social Development spokesperson Karen Chhour.

“Survivors and youth advocates feel so let down and ignored by the Minister that they felt the only way to have their voices heard was to gather at Sepuloni’s electorate office to hold a vigil for survivors of state care. I was proud to stand alongside them.

“Sadly, the Minister didn’t even have enough respect to show up.

"I can tell you from my experience in dealing with Child, Youth and Family growing up, the worst thing you can do as an organisation is lose the trust of our youth, because to come forward takes huge courage and why would you come forward if you don't trust the system?

“Last week I lodged five proposed changes (SOPs) to amend the oversight bill. There were informed by conversations with child advocacy groups and care-experienced youth – those Sepuloni is supposed to be protecting but has flatly ignored. Today, Sepuloni released her own SOP with a similar amendment to one in my name: to reduce the time limit within which the review into the Act must be commenced.

“Sepuloni suggests a reduction from five to three years; ACT says this is a step in the right direction, however the amendment lodged in my name would anchor the commencement of the review into the Oranga Tamariki Oversight Act to within six months of the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care, which is due next year.

“ACT would show the Royal Inquiry the respect it deserves, rather than insulting it by pushing this flawed and risky bill through just months before its publication then leaving the resulting uninformed law for years.

“The first bit of good news that Sepuloni has given vulnerable kids is that we might have a chance to get rid of her shoddy system two years earlier. ACT says if she’d listened to these kids from the start we could have avoided this mess altogether. She might have heard this today if she bothered to show up.”

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