Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Newborn Removal Without Notice ‘more By Routine Than Exception’ - Chief Ombudsman

Oranga Tamariki-Ministry for Children has been using its powers to remove newborn pēpi from their parents under a without notice Court order more by routine than exception, says Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier.

Mr Boshier today released He Take Kōhukihuki: A Matter of Urgency, his investigation into the policies, procedures and practices of the Ministry for the removal of newborn pēpi under interim custody orders.

"Removing newborn pēpi from their parents is one of the strongest uses of state power. New Zealanders must have confidence in how the law is being applied", Mr Boshier says.

"The Oranga Tamariki Act permits the Ministry to act quickly to ensure the safety of pēpi who are at immediate risk of serious harm", Mr Boshier says.

"The Ministry has a range of possible responses at its disposal. Section 78 applications for interim custody are meant to be reserved for urgent cases where no other options are available. And as a matter of fairness and law, they should be made without notice in only the most exceptional cases", Mr Boshier says.

Mr Boshier examined 74 case files of pēpi from nine Ministry sites, who were aged up to 30 days old and were subject to a section 78 custody application by the Ministry over a two-year period, ending 30 June 2019.

"In most cases the Ministry knew about the mother’s pregnancy for months before the birth. There was time for the Ministry to engage with parents, whānau, and other parties to determine the best place for pēpi", Mr Boshier says.

"I found decisions were being made late, without expert advice or independent scrutiny, and without whānau involvement. This meant other options were often not fully explored, and in almost all cases a without notice application was made".

Mr Boshier says high caseloads and limited numbers of Māori specialist staff appeared to be contributing factors.

"This appeared to result in cases involving unborn pēpi not being prioritised until the birth was imminent", Mr Boshier says.

"I believe the level of urgency around a without notice section 78 application at the time of pēpi’s birth was often created by the Ministry’s inaction and lack of capacity to follow processes in a timely and effective way".

Mr Boshier found that all the cases he reviewed required a disability rights-based response from the Ministry. Over 20 percent involved parents with intellectual disability. However, the investigation found that these parents did not get the assistance or advocacy they required.

"As someone with oversight under the Disabilities Convention, I was very concerned to find that the rights of disabled parents were not visible in either policy or practice", Mr Boshier says. "This is a significant breach of the Convention".

"There was also minimal evidence that the Ministry had involved parents and whānau in planning the removal process", Mr Boshier says. "Late and limited pre-birth planning, communication and information sharing with District Health Boards were key issues."

"When the Ministry executed the removal decision, I found that parents and whānau were not provided with opportunity for ngākau maharatanga me te ngākau aroha; a period of ‘quality time’ that reflects consideration, empathy, sympathy and love."

Mr Boshier also found that there was no support offered to parents and whānau to deal with the trauma and grief of their being pēpi removed, while mothers who wished to breastfeed got only limited support.

"The Ministry has the tools and resources to meet the requirements of the Oranga Tamariki Act", he says. "While I have identified systemic issues with the Ministry’s practice, I also found evidence of good practice at the sites that had formal partnerships with iwi and valued Maori specialist staff."

"The Ministry must build on these successes to achieve true transformation by 2022".

The Chief Ombudsman has made 32 comprehensive recommendations, including improvements to the Ministry’s guidance and practices; the use of all tools available in a timely way; establishing effective reporting frameworks and quality assurance; prioritising engagement with whānau, hapū, and iwi; and enhancing cultural competency of staff.

"I thank the Ministry for engaging so constructively with my investigation. My Office is available to assist with implementation of my recommendations, and I have asked for quarterly reports on progress".

- Read the report.

- Watch a video of the Chief Ombudsman talking about the report's key findings.

- More about the Chief Ombudsman's work for children in care.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On National’s Rampant Pandering To The Farming Vote

What on earth has happened to the political parties n the centre-right? Once upon a time in the US, the party of Lincoln was a respectable political party before it devolved into the cult of Trump. Here at home, the National Parry used to be able to manage and administer the economic orthodoxy in a reasonably competent fashion. Now it can barely do simple addition and subtraction. Something must have gotten into the water, and not simply out on the farm... More>>


Winston Peters Speech: The Gathering Storm Clouds: Ihumatao

Frequently around New Zealand you hear people say that politicians are all the same. It’s a convenient way to dismiss any careful investigation of the truth of that statement. New Zealand First since its inception has been committed to ‘one law ... More>>


National Agriculture Policy: Will Restore Farmer Confidence And Pride

A National Government will reduce regulatory burden and give farmers confidence for the future. Leader of the National Party Judith Collins and Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett announced National’s Agriculture policy in Gisborne today. “Agriculture ... More>>


Shaw: Wealth Tax Not A Bottom Line For Green Party But They Will Push For It

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says one of his senior MPs misspoke under pressure when she said a wealth tax was one of the party's bottom lines. More>>


Government: More Border Exceptions For Critical Roles

The Government has established class exceptions for border entry for a limited number of veterinarians, deep sea fishing crew, as well as agricultural and horticultural machinery operators. “Tight border restrictions remain the backbone of the Government’s ... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Last Night’s Leaders Debate

Do political debates change voter intentions, and cause voters to switch sides? According to a 2019 Harvard Business School study conducted across 61 elections in nine countries involving 172,000 respondents, the answer would seem to be a resounding ... More>>


Dunne Speaks: The Election Campaign Just Grinds Slowly On And On

With just over three weeks until the General Election, the release of the first major pre-election opinion poll this week confirmed what was already being reported about this year’s campaign. Although the gap between Labour and National has narrowed ... More>>

Electoral Commission: Candidate And Party Lists Released

17 registered political parties and 677 candidates will be contesting the 2020 General Election Nominations have now closed and the Electoral Commission has released the electorate and party list candidates for 2020 online at vote.nz . Advance voting ... More>>

National: Plan To Restore NZ’s Prosperity

National’s Economic and Fiscal Plan carefully balances the need to invest in infrastructure and core public services while also reducing tax pressure on Kiwi families and businesses. National Leader Judith Collins and Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith unveiled National’s ... More>>


NZ First: Party List

New Zealand First has a proven twenty-seven-year history of bringing balance and common sense to our government. Amid the continued setbacks of COVID-19 restrictions, New Zealand First has once again sustained its profile by selecting a strong team ... More>>





InfoPages News Channels