Te Mātāwaka: Oversight of Oranga Tamariki needs to be independent of Government

The Oversight of Oranga Tamariki System and Children and Young People's Commission Bill will have its first reading today, but the Green Party will not be supporting it.

All tamariki in Aotearoa have the right to be loved, nurtured and safe in whānau and communities that have what they need to support their wellbeing,” says Green Party’s Māori Development spokesperson, and Chair of Te Mātāwaka, Dr Elizabeth Kerekere.

“For generations, this has not been the reality for children and young people who have ended up in the care and protection system.

“Several independent reports have shown deep structural issues within Oranga Tamariki, to the detriment of whānau Māori. Yet another report out today, from Ihi Research, shows successive governments enacted racist policies that failed Māori whānau and tamariki.

“This Bill establishes the new Children and Young People’s Commission, without the investigation powers of the current Children’s Commissioner. Instead of benefiting from the independence and expertise of the current office, it sets up a new monitoring agency inside MSD.

“This refusal to allow the maximum level of independence should be a massive red flag to Māori and those with lived experience, especially in the context of decades of scrutiny, a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care, and a Waitangi Tribunal report,” Dr Kerekere says.

Greens spokesperson for Children and member of Te Mātāwaka Jan Logie says: “Turning the Office of the Children’s Commissioner into a Children and Young People’s Commission should go hand in hand with giving it powers and resourcing for monitoring, alongside advocacy work. Taking some of the functions away from the Commissioner is a backwards step.

“We know we are causing harm in our so-called child protection system. We need a truly independent monitor, empowered to speak out when necessary as a watchdog, as the former Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft said.

“The Greens are committed to tangata whenua-led responses to state care, and we call on Oranga Tamariki to work better with Māori and listen to our experts in order to properly honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” says Jan Logie.

ENDS

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