New process to identify and address harm to children in state care

Thu 30 Aug 2018

The Minister for Children Tracey Martin announced a new approach to monitoring harm including harm experienced by children while in care, inclduing ...

The Minister for Children Tracey Martin announced a new approach to monitoring harm including harm experienced by children while in care, inclduing abuse and neglect.

The approach involves changes to what is measured and how it is measured. Key points of the new approach include:

  • harm will include four types of abuse - physical, sexual, emotional and neglect
  • all perpetrators will be included, not just caregivers
  • cases of harm will be reviewed in real time to enable a faster response

The Safety of Children in Care Unit was set up in March within Oranga Tamariki to lead this work. The new approach is intended to improve practice and contribute to reporting requirements for international United Nations conventions and the new National Care Standards which will come into force on 1 July 2019.

For more information, Oranga Tamariki has produced a brief report Safety of Children in Care: Measurement of harm report (2018). The appendix, International measurement models: harm in care report (2018), is also available as a separate document. Also see the Beehive press release: New measures to improve the safety of children in care.


The Government has been reporting on some forms of harm and abuse experienced by children in care in various ways since 2010. In December 2017, Oranga Tamariki published a report about harm experienced by children in care. The report found higher rates of harm than previously, using a wider definition of harm. Following this, Oranga Tamariki and an Expert Measurement Group began researching ways to measure and monitor harm or abuse of children in care. 

Related news

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has started work on the possibility of independent oversight of the child care and protection system, including Oranga Tamariki.

In February this year, the Government officially launched a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care. Sir Anand Satyanand has submitted his report to the Government about his consultation and recommendations on the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission. Minister Tracey Martin has said the report will not be released until after a Cabinet decision.

Selected and related media

Colonisation + Capitalism = Māori in State Care, Opinion: Ian Hyslop, Re-Imagining Social Work in Aotearoa New Zealand Blog, 05.10.2018

'All harm is harm' guides new reporting system for state carer Oranga Tamariki, Stuff, 29.08.2018

Oranga Tamariki reveals new measures to avoid harm to children, Māori Television, 29.08.2018

New reporting system for children harmed while in state care, NZ Herald, 29.08.2018

Calls for faith-based organisations to be included in historical child abuse inquiry, One News, 26.08.2018

Family Court judges raised concerns with new Ministry 10 times, Radio NZ, 23.08.2018

Children's Minister 'alarmed' at numbers of proven child abuse, Stuff, 16.08.2018

Subsequent child rules: 'I did not understand how they could take baby', Radio NZ, 06.07.2018

21 safety assessments by Oranga Tamariki Wairarapa late, Radio NZ, 05.07 2018

Whānau frozen in family conferences, Waatea News, 05.07.2018

Whānau with children in state care lack clarity on rights, Radio NZ, 03.07.2018

Whānau facing losing children discouraged by state process, Radio NZ, 03.07.2018

Image: Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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