Consultation open on Oranga Tamariki Legislation Bill

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The government is inviting consultation on legislation to support the implementation of the Children, Young Persons, and their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Act 2017.

The deadline to submit your feedback is 24 April 2019.

The Oranga Tamariki Legislation Bill was introduced in March of this year. It is an omnibus bill that intends to gives full effect to aspects of the Children, Young Persons, and their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Act 2017. The bill seeks to ensure that the benefits of the policy to include 17-year-olds in the youth justice jurisdiction are fully achieved and address drafting errors in the 2017 Act.

The bill has been referred to the Social Services and Community Committee. The Social Services and Community Committee press release notes that:

"The bill would:

    • amend legislation to ensure that the extended youth justice jurisdiction is applied consistently across the justice system
    • address drafting errors in the 2017 Act
    • make a consequential amendment to the Children’s Commissioner Act 2003 to correct a cross-referencing error.

These changes are required to be enacted before 1 July 2019 to ensure that amendments made by the 2017 Act are consistent with the policy intent."

The Committee is now seeking public feedback through consultation.

Update: The Social Services and Community select committee has submitted their final report on the legislation, recommending that it be passed with amendments. For more information see the Law Society news article.

Related news

Oranga Tamariki - Ministry for Children published data on the number of children harmed while in the care of Oranga Tamariki. The data showed that the number of tamariki Māori who experienced harm in care is proportionately higher than the number of tamariki Māori in care.

In December 2018, a Stuff investigation found "more children are now born into care than at any time in the past decade, with around five babies a week now separated from their mothers. The majority of these pēpī are Māori." Since 2013, the number of Māori children in state care has increased whereas the number of Pākehā children has declined.

The New Zealand Māori Council is launching a new campaign to highlight the number of Māori children in state care and the increasing numbers who are abused. Matthew Tukaki, Executive Director of the Council said:

“The first part of the campaign is to draw more of the reality into the public domain in respect of the numbers – we need all of our people to know what is happening. The second part of the campaign is to highlight the things that need to change and how we can best support our Treaty Partners to enact change and the third part of the campaign will be to clearly assess and benchmark performance of the Agency against the development criteria we are currently building.” 

He said this would include solutions around prevention, intensive intervention and postvention. He went on to call for new models of whānau and kin care, better use of community resources, increasing narrative of whānau centric solutions, looking at a national workforce development plan that takes account of the role of Government agencies and service delivery agencies, and establishing an independent advocate and guardian of Māori Children, such as a Māori Children’s Commissioner.  

Radio NZ reported that Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft agreed there is a need for a way to ensure a Māori voice, Māori worldview or Māori approach was present in the structure of the Office of the Children's Commission.

Related media

Parliament told of foster children's income gap at age 24, Stuff, 14.04.2019

Concern for Māori children needs to be system wide, Waatea News, 12.04.2019

Māori need structural role in children's system, Waatea News, 10.04.2019

Becroft supports call for Māori children's commissioner; PM plays down chances, stuff, 09.04.2019

Calls for a Māori Children's Commissioner to give voice and advocacy tamariki, Radio NZ, 08.04.2019

Māori Council crack down on State Care system, Māori Television, 05.04.2019

20 years on from one of NZ's worst child abuse cases: 'Nothing's changed', NZ Herald, 05.04.2019

Young Māori over-represented in state care and detention, Radio NZ, 04.04.2019

Call for independent Māori children's commissioner over 'unconscionable' rates of abuse in state care, NZ Herald, 04.04.2019

Kids in care data a sign of failure, Waatea News, 03.04.2019

Child welfare concerns on the rise in Hawke's Bay, according to Oranga Tamariki figures, Stuff, 02.04.2019

Oranga Tamariki - Some Food for Thought, Re-Imagining Social Work in Aotearoa New Zealand: Ian Hyslop, 01.04.2019

Oranga Tamariki will need extra resources to care for kids longer, Radio NZ, 01.04.2019

'They aren't getting any better': Callers share Oranga Tamariki experiences, Newstalk ZB, 01.04.2019

Oranga Tamariki two years on: what's changed? Radio NZ, 1 April 2019

Two years as Oranga Tamariki: Getting whānau back into children's lives, Stuff, 31.03.2019

Oranga Tamariki 'smacks of racism' - Dame Tariana Turia, Newshub, 31.03.2019