Oranga Tamariki: legislative updates, new reports and new resources

Thu 13 Oct 2022

This news story highlights a number of updates related to Oranga Tamariki including recent and ongoing legislative changes, new reports and new resources.

photo of a young child touching a book held in the hands of an older person


Legislative updates

Oranga Tamariki is looking at changes to the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 and the Residential Care Regulations 1996. These changes will be contained in an amendment Bill called the Oranga Tamariki (Residential Care and Other Matters) Amendment Bill. Oranga Tamariki has published a series of issues papers outlining potential changes. Feedback is being invited on these issues in October, with the first closing date of 14 October 2022.

The Oranga Tamariki Amendment Bill would amend the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 by partially repealing the subsequent-child provisions, repealing a redundant information-sharing provision, and amending technical errors and ambiguities. The Final Report of the Social Services and Community Committee was published in June 2022, recommending the bill be passed.

The Oversight of Oranga Tamariki System Bill and the Children and Young People’s Commission Bill both received Royal Assent in August 2022. Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said “We’re retaining a Chief Children’s Commissioner, we’ve strengthened the independence of the monitor, and we’ve reduced the review period to three years instead of five." The legislation shifts the responsibility for monitoring Oranga Tamariki to the Independent Children’s Monitor, which will come under the Education Review Office and the Ombudsman, both government agencies.

Advocates, state care survivors, community groups and organisations, and academic experts have criticised this approach and raised concerns that independence of the monitoring and the failure to wait for the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry to be completed. We highlight some of responses below

UpdateVOYCE – Whakarongo Mai has published an additional statement saying "VOYCE supports the oversight legislation being updated to include the recommendations of the Royal Commission’s final report due next year. The legislation also needs to align with the Oranga Tamariki Action Plan, to ensure young people don’t fall through any further systemic gaps."

See further responses and commentary to the legislation in the related media below. The Independent Children's Monitor has provided updates on the expansion of their monitoring role on their website and in previous newsletters. Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has also outlined how his office will respond to the increased monitoring responsibility.

New reports

The Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has publicly released the final report from his investigation into the death of Malachi Subecz at the request of his cousin and uncle. In releasing the report, the Chief Ombudsman said Oranga Tamariki failed to take the ‘‘bare minimum’’ action over safety concerns about Malachi Subecz and described Oranga Tamariki’s response as a "litany of failures.” In relation to this case, Oranga Tamariki is reviewing its practice and Dame Karen Poutasi is conducting an independent review looking at the roles and responsibilities of the different agencies involved in Malachi’s care.

Care to Custody: Incarceration Rates Research Report (2022) published by the Abuse in Care - Royal Commission of Inquiry looked at interagency records of more than 30,000 children and young people over five decades. The data shows that between 1950-1999, one out of every three children and young people placed in residential care by the State went on to serve a prison sentence later in life. For Māori children and young people who had been in State residential care over that time, up to 42% went on to receive a prison sentence later in life. The report was tabled during the Inquiry’s State Institutional Response public hearing. See related media below for updates from the State Institutional Response public hearing.

Oranga Tamariki published their annual Safety of Children in Care (2022) report drawing on data from July 2020 to July 2021. The data shows an increase in the number of children experiencing harm while in care.

The Independent Children's Monitor published Experiences of Care in Aotearoa: Agency Compliance with the National Care Standards and Related Matters Regulations – Reporting period 1 July 2020 – 30 June 2021. Media outlet Newsroom highlighted key points from the report in the article Children’s monitor hits milestone in scrutiny of Oranga Tamariki.

How we fail children who offend and what to do about it: ‘A breakdown across the whole system’ – Research and recommendations (2022) was written by Professor Ian Lambie, Dr Jerome Reil, Judge Andrew Becroft and Dr Ruth Allen. This report summarises findings from research that looked at risk and protective factors for children (under age 14 years) who offend in order to improve early identification and intervention. Also see the brief summary of the report.

Oranga Tamariki commissioned six reports drawing on data from the Adolescent Health Research Group’s Youth19 Rangatahi Smart Survey. The reports highlight key findings for young people involved with Oranga Tamariki and number of areas including: Takatāpui and rainbow young people, Identity and cultural connectedness, Housing and home life, Mental and physical health and healthcare access, Community and contexts and Youth Voices. A video recording is available from a webinar featuring researchers from the Adolescent Health Research Group presenting the findings from these reports.

Several agencies and non-government organisations have publicly released their alternative reports to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on Aotearoa New Zealand's progress on children's rights. This includes reports from the Children's Alliance, the Children's Commissioner, and the Backbone Collective.

New resources

Te Korimako Legal Education is a Māori initiative to educate and support whānau who come to the attention of Oranga Tamariki and the Family Court. Te Korimako's website has information and videos for whānau to understand how the law relates to tamariki and whānau. It covers the following areas of law Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, Family Violence Act 2018, Care of Children Act 2004, Property (Relationships) Act 1976 and other matters including wills, succession of Māori Land, surrogacy, whāngai and adoption.

The Ministry of Justice has published new resources to help parents, guardians and whānau understand the Family Court and the options available to them when making decisions about the care of their children and tamariki after a separation or change in family situation. This includes brief information sheets on making parenting arrangements, going through the Family Court to work out parenting arrangements, what to expect at Family Court, responding to a notice of application, lawyers working with children, legal advice and support, stopping a child being taken overseas and a parenting Plan Workbook.

The prevention project at the University of Otago | Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo is a project to understand the contexts, resources, and relationships that contribute to the prevention of baby removal in the Aotearoa New Zealand. The project is led by Emily Keddell (Associate Professor, University of Otago, Pākehā), Kerri Cleaver (Lecturer, Social Work, Canterbury University, Kāi Tahu, Waitaha, Kāti Mamoe) and Luke Fitzmaurice (University of Otago, Victoria University Wellington, Te Aupōuri), with the collaboration of the NGO and social service forum. The prevention project website lists education materials to assist with educating about the range of practices, policies and systems that can reduce the outcome of baby removal. These materials might be helpful to those lecturing in formal academic settings, as well as those running trainings or professional development for social or community workers.

Oranga Tamariki has produced resources to support workers to safely and appropriately share information across the child welfare and protection sector.

Related media

Media related to reports

Children's Minister under fire over Malachi Subecz, RNZ, 20.10.2022

MPs emotional in debate over Malachi Subecz's murder, calls for Oranga Tamariki accountability, NZ Herald, 19.10.2022

Government under pressure for Malachi Subecz failures, the economy, NZ Herald, 19.10.2022

Official reviewing OT involved in failure to investigate Lake Alice, Newsroom, 13.10.2022

Children's Commissioner responds to Oranga Tamariki Ombudsman report, RNZ, 06.10.2022

Children's Minister admits Oranga Tamariki failed Malachi Subecz, RNZ, 06.10.2022

Oranga Tamariki failed to do 'bare minimum' to help abused Malachi Subecz before death, NZ Herald, 05.10.2022

Oranga Tamariki 'systemically broken' - Lady Tureiti Moxon, RNZ, 06.10.2022

Ombudsman accuses Oranga Tamariki of 'litany of failures' before Malachi Subecz's death, RNZ, 05.10.2022

Ombudsman finds 'litany of failures' in OT treatment of Malachi Subecz case, Stuff, 05.10.2022

Ombudsman criticises Oranga Tamariki in wake of Malachi Subecz's death, RNZ, 05.10.2022

State care pipeling to prison no longer, Waatea News, 30.08.2022

We must break this cycle from care into custody, Newsroom, 30.08.2022

Nearly half of Māori rangatahi in state care have gone to prison, RNZ, 24.08.2022

Almost 500 children, teens in Oranga Tamariki care harmed during 2020-21, RNZ, 29.03.2022

Distressing Report Shows Major Work Needed To Ensure Our Children Are Safe, Press Release: Office of the Children's Commissioner, Scoop, 29.03.2022

ANZASW response to the first annual report released by Te Mana Whakamaru Tamariki Motuhake: Independent Children’s Monitor, ANZASW media release, 03.02.2022

First Children's Monitor report exposes shortfalls, Oranga Tamariki promises to fix them, Te Ao Māori News, 02.02.2022

Children's Commissioner welcomes insights from ICM report into state care, Office of the Children's Commissioner media release, Voxy, 01.02.2022

Media related to legislation updates

A structure of impunity, Newsroom, 26.09.2022

The Misery-Go-Round, North & South, 09.2022

How laws to 'strengthen' child protection led to division, distrust, and accusations of an autocracy, Stuff, 29.08.2022

ANZASW Calls For Radical Transformation Of The Care And Protection System, Press Release: ANZASW (Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers), Scoop, 26.08.2022

Labour passes Oranga Tamariki reforms despite opposition from other parties, RNZ, 24.08.2022

Trust betrayed with passing of OT Bill, Comment from Jan Logie, Green Party media release, 23.08.2022

Govt ‘bulldozing’ Oranga Tamariki Bill through, Newsroom, 21.08.2022

State law is failing tamariki Māori, Opinion: Dr Fleur Te Aho, University of Auckland media release, 17.08.2022

Teen in Oranga Tamariki care warns Parliament its bill could put abused kids at risk, Stuff, 27.07.2022

Changes to the way Oranga Tamariki is monitored risk weakening children’s rights and protections – what should be done?, The Conversation, 11.07.2022

Commission role critical for children’s voices, Waatea News, 20.06.2022

Independence of Oranga Tamariki monitor questioned, Waatea News, 17.06.2022

How is less accountability going to make Oranga Tamariki better?, The Spinoff, 16.06.2022

How Not To Engage With Tamariki And Rangatahi, Press Release: NZ Council of Christian Social Services, Scoop, 14.06.2022

The fate of our most vulnerable kids rests on backbenchers’ shoulders, Newsroom, 10.06.2022

Media related to Abuse in Care - Royal Commission of Inquiry’s State Institutional Response public hearing

The quarter million: Part 1, The Spinoff, 06.09.2022

Bernie O’Donnell discusses on current Oranga Tamariki issues [Te Reo Māori], Te Karere TVNZ, 24.08.2022

Abuse in Care inquiry: Oranga Tamariki CEO avoids acknowledging abuse as 'systemic problem', RNZ, 24.08.2022

Abuse in Care inquiry: An insight into govt agency roles, RNZ, 24.08.2022

Paora Crawford Moyle | Advocate for Taamariki and Whanau in State Care, Waatea News, 19.08.2022

Abuse in Care: Ministry of Social Development fronts royal commission as first witnesses take the stand, Stuff, 16.08.2022

Other media related to Oranga Tamariki

Why did Oranga Tamariki let boy go back to parents who nearly killed him?, Stuff, 19.10.2022

Social workers fearful of man but allowed him to move in with mum, children, RNZ, 18.10.2022

Oranga Tamariki Staff Vote Strike For Fairer Pay And Safer Workloads, Press Release: PSA, Scoop, 05.10.2022

Striking Oranga Tamariki staff say soaring vacancies an 'elephant in the room', Stuff, 05.10.2022

Treasury rips into Oranga Tamariki for loose fiscal controls, RNZ, 16.09.2022

Decision making to go back to whānau from the Crown with new Oranga Tamariki/Te Whānau o Waipareira Agreement, Waatea News, 23.09.2022

Oranga Tamariki community-led partnership launched in Kaitāia, Te Ao Māori News, 17.08.2022

Breaking Bad Practice, Newsroom, 24.07.2022

State sent uplift kids to where ‘sex harm’ man lives, Newsroom, 16.05.2022

Oranga Tamariki social workers failed to assess boy's ongoing safety after he retracted abuse allegation - review, RNZ, 13.05.2022

Building whānau advocacy, Opinion: Emily Keddell, Reimagining Social Work in Aotearoa, 27.04.2022

Oranga Tamariki identity blunder, privacy breach: Mother's 20-year battle for an apology, NZ Herald, 10.04.2022

Youth organisations pull out of $2.4m Oranga Tamariki campaign, RNZ, 06.04.2022

Pēpi uplifts drop as advice heeded, Waatea News, 05.04.2022

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