Minister must act now to protect vulnerable children

Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis must take an even-handed and caring approach for all children in the care of Oranga Tamariki, says National’s Children and Oranga Tamariki spokesperson Harete Hipango.

“I challenge and encourage the Minister to act without further delay to make changes that put children’s care and protection needs first.

“Most of the children under Oranga Tamariki’s care and protection are there because of inequality, and the sad reality is that two-thirds of these children are Māori.

“But there is a clear disconnect between the Minister, Oranga Tamariki’s leadership and those doing the mahi with vulnerable children. It’s the children that suffer.

“This has to change and it has to change now.

“For the sake of our children, our tamariki, time and quality is critical. They must be at the centre of the incoming changes.

“We need to have a proactive Minister. To date he has been reactive following mistakes that continue to be made. There must be time and quality given to care, protection, practice, interventions and decision-making, where the welfare and best interests of children are paramount.

“He should act responsibly and take heed of recommendations from his Ministerial Advisory Board on how to fix the child care and protection system, including decision-making and resources to be shifted to communities, putting children and whānau at the centre of the system, creating a new operating model, providing better support and training for social workers, and only using uplifts after proper engagement with whānau.

“The Minister has had many opportunities to address the problems – multiple troubling reports have been provided to the Government – but nothing has been done.

“There have been too many reviews and inquiries into dysfunction at Oranga Tamariki and nothing has changed. We need to know that this time it will be different, and we need to know that in two months’ time we won’t see another damning report.

“I will be watching closely to ensure that the Minister follows through on the latest recommendations.

“We have already waited more than two months for the findings of this review to be released. That’s time we could have spent implementing change and to improve the welfare and wellbeing of our tamariki and whānau.”