Office of the Children's Commissioner calls for 'total transformation' of care and protection system
Tue 15 Dec 2020
The Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) has released the second report of their two-part review of care and protection issues for pēpi Māori.
In his opening statement for the report, Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft says:
"Our call, and the key recommendation in this report, is for a total transformation of the statutory care and protection system. By that I mean nothing short of a ‘by Māori, for Māori’ approach and a transfer of responsibility, resources and power from the state to appropriate Māori entities, as determined by Māori."
He goes on to say:
"That said, there is much Oranga Tamariki can do immediately to prioritise and improve delivery of services to tamariki Māori. This report includes several recommendations for change that can begin today. But I want to stress that these are not destinations and, on their own, are not enough. They provide a steer for changes needed to keep mokopuna safe, in the broadest sense, in the intervening period. The by Māori, for Māori approach is the overarching goal."
Chief Māori Advisor to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner Dr Kathie Irwin says in her opening statement to the report:
"Radical disruptive change will only be created if systemic change is undertaken. Te Tiriti / the Treaty must be used as a framework – partnering with whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori entities as determined by Māori. Mātauranga Māori must be prioritised and working with kaupapa Māori drivers in any business modelling should aim to create Treaty-based, future-proofed, sustainable change that does not constitute the next Treaty breach."
The report, Te Kuku O Te Manawa: Moe ararā! Haumanutia ngā moemoeā a ngā tūpuna mō te oranga o ngā tamariki (OCC, 2020), has two main two parts.
The first part shares findings from additional kaupapa Māori research building on the initial research in the first report. This additional research includes interviews with a new group of parents and whānau, midwives, community support people, and Oranga Tamariki staff. The OCC also took a deeper look at data and looked at relevant rangahau and mātauranga Māori (research and indigenous knowledge).
The second part of the report looks at changes to social work practice and legislation that are required to stop harm now, and ultimately support transition to by Māori, for Māori approaches.
The report concludes with four main recommendations. Under each recommendation the report outlines steps for change. The first and overarching recommendation is for the Prime Minister and Cabinet to commit to transfer power and resources from Government to enable a by Māori for Māori approach.
The remaining three main recommendations focus on actions to support pēpi and whānau through this transformational change and to stop harm that is happening now from the care and protection systems, policies and practices. These three recommendations focus on:
- changes to statutory social work policy and practice
- changes to the contracting process and increases in funding and support to iwi and Māori organisations, and support and resource a transition pathway
- the Minister for Children drive changes to legislation and Oranga Tamariki change the current systems including work with other social sector agencies, District Health Boards and police.
RNZ interviewed the Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft and Assistant Māori Commissioner for Children Glenis Philip-Barbara about the report.
Oranga Tamariki has issued a statement in response to the OCC report.
See the media below for commentary from iwi and Māori leaders and advocates.
Media have reported that Oranga Tamariki CEO Grainne Moss acknowledged structural racism in the care and protection system and the failure of the Crown to implement recommendations of Pūao-te-Ata-tū in her submission to the Waitangi Tribunal urgent inquiry examining the practices of Oranga Tamariki. See the media below for more reports from submissions to the Waitangi Tribunal inquiry. See the Oranga Tamariki website for their responses to the ongoing reviews of the care and protection system. Oranga Tamariki has published a number of briefs and data summaries related to the care and protection system including a number of reports related to disparities experienced by tamariki Māori. For more information see the following sections of the Oranga Tamariki website: Analytics and insights, Reports to the Minister for Children and Research articles.
The Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-Based Institutions has submitted an interim report to the Government. Cabinet will consider when to publicly release the report. The Royal Commission has continued to hold hearings. See the media below for recent updates on the inquiry.
In September 2020, the Government announced a new whānau-centred early intervention programme, Ngā Tini Whetū. The programme is a collaboration between Oranga Tamariki, Te Puni Kōkiri, ACC and the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency. Whānau Ora Chief Executive Officer John Tamihere said “This is the first step in taking responsibility for our own welfare and challenges."
In September 2020 the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) published a briefing and monitoring report on the Implementing the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy for July 2019-June 2020. Children's Commissioner Becroft said “This report tells the story of some important but, first steps forward on a much bigger journey to implementation. I look forward to seeing them followed up with the big bold changes in the future necessary for fundamental improvement.”