Govt accepts recommendations from Ministerial Board on Oranga Tamariki, gives $25.9 million for South Island Iwi led prevention
Wed 10 Nov 2021
The government has announced funding for Iwi led work with whānau and tamariki, following the acceptance of all 25 recommendations from the Ministerial Advisory Board that reviewed Oranga Tamariki.
In September 2021, the Government released the report from the Ministerial Advisory Board which was set up to look at the child care and protection system. The report, Hipokingia ki te Kahu Aroha Hipokingia ki te Katoa: initial report of the Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board July 2021, is also available in Te Reo Māori. The Cabinet Paper: Direction for Oranga Tamariki August 2021 and a new Oranga Tamariki Future Direction Action Plan (September 2021) were also publicly released.
The members of the Ministerial Advisory Board are Matthew Tukaki (Chair), Kahurangi Rangimārie Naida Glavish, Tā Mark Solomon and Shannon Pakura. In the report they write that "...we see a need to relentlessly focus the direction of Oranga Tamariki onto improving outcomes for tamariki and their whānau, and to enabling those capable of delivering this outcome most effectively to get on with the challenge." They found that the lack of focus for Oranga Tamariki "...has blurred responsibilities in two significant ways:
- first, the Crown has assumed the lead role in supporting tamariki and whānau without really knowing how to be effective in this; and
- secondly, the Crown has undermined the role of communities and particularly of hapū and iwi in leading their own communities."
As a result the report has three overarching recommendations:
- "In order to lead prevention of harm to tamariki and their whānau, collective Māori and community responsibility and authority must be strengthened and restored"
- "In order to work collaboratively with Māori, community organisations and other government agencies, the purpose of Oranga Tamariki must be clarified"
- "A national Oranga Tamariki Governance Board should be established to oversee the diversity and depth of changes needed."
The report includes a table of terms that the Ministerial Board was asked to review and the Board's assessment of whether they could provide assurance that Oranga Tamariki had addressed these terms. The Board concluded on all terms, that either it was a work in progress or an identified gap.
In addition, the report concludes with 25 specific recommendations. Among the detailed recommendations are calls for a programme of community engagement to plan how Māori collectives and community will lead prevention harm and for a national Oranga Tamariki Governance Board by the end of 2022.
Following the recommendations, the Board has also proposed to expand their review to include care residences, the role and function of the National Contact Centre, youth justice outcomes, and to consider the legislative parameters that Oranga Tamariki operates within, as well as the needs of tamariki with disabilities.
When releasing the report, Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis announced that the Government would accept all recommendations from the report saying:
“This report will end uplifts as we have known them. While there will always be a need for some children to be taken into care, this should only happen after all avenues with community and whanau have been exhausted.”
“Community-led prevention is the biggest thing for me from this report – our communities have the answers and Oranga Tamariki needs to work with them to stop children entering into care.”
This brief summary from Oranga Tamariki notes that Oranga Tamariki is tasked with supporting the Ministerial Advisory Board to develop options for a permanent governance board for Oranga Tamariki. It also notes that the Minister for Children will report back to Cabinet in February 2022 on:
- the implementation of the Action Plan
- options for a permanent governance board for Oranga Tamariki
- the development of a workforce strategy
- regional funding and decision-making.
For more information watch the recording of Minister Davis and Ministerial Advisory Board Chair Matthew Tukaki when announcing the report and government response. Also listen to interviews from Waatea News with Minister Davis and Matthew Tukaki.
Many advocates and experts have commented in interviews and articles on the report and response from the Government including VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, Nicola Atwool, Lady Tureiti Moxon, Jean Te Huia and Social Services Providers Aotearoa. This brief video from Te Karere highlights views from Te Ao Māori leaders including Tupua Urlich (National Care Experienced Lead at VOYCE-Whakarongo Mai), Assistant Māori Commissioner for Children Glenis Philip-Barbara, Te Pāti Māori Co-leader Rawiri Waititi, and Annette Sykes. See further commentary in the related media below.
Oranga Tamariki has published three papers that describe the background of Te Toka Tūmoana over the period 2013-2016. Te Toka Tūmoana is Oranga Tamariki's Indigenous and bicultural framework that describes the principles to guide practitioners, managers and leaders through work with tamariki and whānau Māori.
Funding for Ngāi Tahu iwi-led prevention programme
Minister Kelvin Davis announced that Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (Te Rūnanga) will receive $25.9m of Oranga Tamariki funding over three years to improve outcomes for tamariki and whānau in the Ngāi Tahu takiwā (tribal area). Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu is the entity that represents 18 Papatipu Rūnanga which make up the tribe of Ngāi Tahu. The tribal takiwā, or territory, covers most of Te Waipounamu (the South Island).
The funding will support the new Whānau as First Navigators programme. The programme will support Ngāi Tahu and Ngā Maata Waka health and social service providers to build on their current work supporting whānau. This will focus on finding solutions for whānau before tamariki end up in the care of Oranga Tamariki.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaihautū (CEO) Arihia Bennett said this "...mahi could include, specialist support, respite care, arrangements with extended whānau, or engaging tamariki with sports and cultural experiences.” Te Rūnanga will also look at how to "...influence and support the cultural development of social workers working alongside whānau Māori within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā."
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai said the name Whānau as First Navigators reflects the story of Rākaihautū, the helmsman of the waka Uruao, who made his journey from Te Patu nui o Aio to Aotearoa. She said:
“This name reflects the strength and resilience of whānau to lead their own journey and to make the best decisions for their tamariki. This programme will strengthen and enhance whānau rangatiratanga, while providing whānau access to the services they need, when they need them.”
The announcement is part of renewing the Strategic Partnership Agreement between Ngāi Tahu and Oranga Tamariki, originally signed in 2018. The Beehive media release stated "This will see decision making and resources shifted to communities, a new operating model with better support and training for social workers and an immediate halt to uplifts without proper consultation."
Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni has appointed Judge Frances Eivers (Ngāti Maniapoto and Waikato) as the new Children’s Commissioner. The Children’s Commissioner is an independent Crown Entity and advocates for the interests, rights and wellbeing of children and young people.
Outgoing Children's Commissioner Judge Becroft reflected on the changes still needed for children and young people in his lecture Five missing pieces in the Youth Justice jigsaw (recording available) and in a series of addresses on the youth justice system, the care and protection system and changes needed to improve child wellbeing. Waatea News interviewed Judge Becroft about his work as the Children's Commissioner. The Gisborne Herald spoke with Glenis Philip-Barbara, Assistant Maori Commissioner for Children, about her work.
In announcing Judge Eivers as the new Commissioner, Minister Sepuloni noted that
“The Office of the Children’s Commissioner is about to undergo significant change, with monitoring activities under the Oranga Tamariki Act transferring to the Independent Children’s Monitor. This will allow the Commissioner to focus entirely on the critical role of advocating for our tamariki and rangatahi."
In June, the government announced that the Independent Children’s Monitor (Te Mana Whakamaru Tamariki Motuhake) would become its own departmental agency within government and be hosted by the Education Review Office. It will be led by its own Chief Executive who will be a Statutory Officer. The September newsletter from the Independent Children's Monitor said "Work on the new legislation that will broaden the scope of the Monitor is in its final stages and we are hopeful that it will be introduced into Parliament by the end of the year." Outgoing Children's Commissioner Judge Becroft has questioned this approach and VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai has also criticised the decision.