Minister for Children Anne Tolley and Associate Minister for Children Alfred Ngaro welcome today’s official launch of VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai - the independent advocacy service for children and young people in state care.
“VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai is an important part of the Government’s overhaul of our care and protection system,” says Mrs Tolley.
“Yesterday the Prime Minister Bill English and I launched the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki which will put children and young people’s needs first, and ensure they have a say in decisions that affect them.
“VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai is the first of its kind in New Zealand. There has never been an advocacy service for children and young people who are or have been in care.”
Minister Ngaro is attending today’s launch in Auckland, along with a number of children and young people, caregivers and supporters.
“Young people have expressed a desire for a service like this for many years, and it was a recommendation of the expert panel which advised the Government on the overhaul of care and protection,” says Mr Ngaro.
“Set up in partnership with young people who have experienced care, the government, NGOs and philanthropic sector, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, will provide a strong independent voice from children and young people.
“It will also connect children and young people in care with each other, and help build a positive identity and sense of community.
“VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai is working closely with the Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki. The service will expand over time, from a website and a team focused on arranging connection events, to phone and online advocacy by late 2017, and a service in the regions from 2018.”
The Government has funded $1.2 million to help set up VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, in addition to funding from its philanthropic partners. Over the next four years the Government will contribute an extra $6.9 million to build and expand the service.