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Stronger Oversight For Our Most Vulnerable Children

Hon Louise Upston
Minister for Social Development and Employment

The rights of our children and young people will be enhanced by changes the coalition Government will make to strengthen oversight of the Oranga Tamariki system, including restoring a single Children’s Commissioner.

“The Government is committed to delivering better public services that care for our most at-risk young people and provide them with greater opportunities,” Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston says.

“Today, I am announcing reforms that will fix the controversial parts of Labour’s 2022 changes and fulfil commitments in the National-ACT coalition agreement to create a truly independent monitoring and oversight agency for Oranga Tamariki.”

As part of the proposed legislative changes that are intended to be introduced into Parliament later this year, the coalition Government will:

  • Return the Children and Young People’s Commission back to a single Commissioner, moving away from the current five-member board structure.
  • Change the Independent Children’s Monitor from a departmental agency hosted within the Education Review Office to an Independent Crown Entity.

“Children and young people need a highly visible advocate who isn’t afraid to speak out on the complex challenges they face, which is why we will restore the single Children’s Commissioner that was abolished by the previous government.

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“It’s also critical that the Children’s Monitor operates at arm’s length from Government, and I’m concerned it is not seen as fully independent of political considerations as an agency within a government department.

“We heard the concerns of many who opposed the previous government’s reforms and have responded.

“The timing of our changes will allow for input from the final report of the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry. We will also bring forward reviews of the Children and Young People’s Commission Act 2022 and the Oversight of the Oranga Tamariki Act 2022, starting later this year.

“This will give everyone a say on how we can make the Oranga Tamariki system work better for them, our children, their families, and for all New Zealanders.”

Notes:

  • The Oranga Tamariki system includes several cross-government agencies that are responsible for providing services or support to children, young people, and their families and whānau under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.
  • This includes Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children, the New Zealand Police, the Ministries of Health, Social Development, Education, and Justice, and the Department of Corrections.

· The Children and Young Peoples Commission Act 2022 established the Children and Young People’s Commission, equipping them with the functions, duties, and powers to protect and advocate for the interests and wellbeing of young people.

· The Oversight of the Oranga Tamariki System Act 2022 established the Independent Children’s Monitor as the Independent Monitoring Agency of the Oranga Tamariki System and appointed the Ombudsman to investigate issues in the system as well as handle complaints about the Oranga Tamariki System.

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