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.
Minister for Children Anne Tolley has welcomed today’s official launch of the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki.
“It’s important our vulnerable children and young people have a safe, stable and loving home so they can go on to lead successful lives,” says Mrs Tolley.
“The new Ministry puts children and young people’s safety and wellbeing first. It will work with families and whānau to ensure children and young people get access to the care and support they need, and will ensure they have a say in decisions that affect them – this is what young people have told me they want.
“This is the start of a four to five year major transformation programme to build a more child-centred care and protection system, focusing on harm and trauma prevention and early intervention, rather than crisis management.
“The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki will also be a single point of accountability for children and young people where it will be easier for them to raise concerns or complaints.
“Children and young people will also have access to a new independent advocacy service, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai.”
The Prime Minister Bill English attended today’s launch in Wellington with Minister Tolley, along with a number of young people who have experienced state care and have had or continue to have input into the overhaul.
Budget 2016 invested $347 million to fund the current transformation process and to address cost pressures.
Notes to editors
The first phase of reforms establishing the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, passed by Parliament in December 2016:Extend the age of state care to a young person’s 18th birthday; Ensure children and young people’s views are taken into account as part of decision-making at an individual level, and in the development of services and policy; Support the establishment of an independent youth advocacy service; Enable the broader range of professionals with specialist skills to perform certain functions. Social workers will still be the main professionals responsible for carrying out these functions.
The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki will focus on five core services - prevention, intensive intervention, care support, youth justice, and transition support into adulthood. It will focus on:A new child-centred operating model, focused on harm and trauma prevention and early intervention. A single point of accountability for children and young people, with the voice of the child represented in planning and strategy. A social investment approach using actuarial valuations and evidence of what works to identify the best way of targeting early interventions, to ensure vulnerable children receive the care and support they need. Direct purchasing of services such as health, education and counselling, with funding following the child so that young people can gain immediate access to assistance. A stronger focus on reducing the over-representation of Māori young people in the system. Targeted support for caregivers. Introduction of National Care Standards so there is a clear expectation for the standard and quality of care in placement homes. A new trauma-informed Professional Practice Framework for staff.
Further reforms are currently before Select Committee which will enable:Young people to remain in care or return to care up until the age of 21, with transition support and advice available up to the age of 25. The establishment of an information sharing framework to keep vulnerable children and young people safe from harm.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says over 28,000 students in more than 900 schools are receiving a healthy start to the day through the KickStart Breakfast programme.
“The KickStart Breakfast programme helps to improve focus, behaviour and energy levels among students,” says Mrs Tolley.
“Over eight million breakfasts have been served in schools around the country since the Government expanded the KickStart Breakfast programme in 2013 and invested $9.5 million over five years.
“It’s great to see schools and communities continuing to take-up the programme - over 40 schools have signed up over the last six months.
“From the community to central government, everybody’s doing their bit to give kids the best start to the day.”
The Prime Minister Bill English and Minister Tolley visited Holy Family School in Porirua, Wellington this morning. The decile one primary school has been participating in KickStart since 2011.
Around 126,000 breakfasts are currently served every week in 913 decile 1-10 primary and secondary schools. 85 per cent of schools are delivering breakfast more than two days each week.
KickStart brings together the government, Fonterra and Sanitarium, as well as the volunteers who run the breakfast clubs. There is no cost involved to the school - milk, Weet-bix and delivery costs are funded by the KickStart Breakfast partnership between Fonterra, Sanitarium and the government.
Schools keen to join the programme can register on the KickStart Breakfast website: https://kickstartbreakfast.co.nz/apply
The Integrated Safety Response (ISR) pilot has helped over 24,000 people through the development of more than 8,000 family safety plans, say Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley.
The ISR pilot involves core agencies and NGOs teaming up to ensure that families experiencing violence get the right support to stay safe. It has been running in Christchurch since July 2016 and in Waikato since October 2016.
“More than 8,000 family safety plans were developed between July and the start of February through the ISR pilot, targeted to people and households that the pilot has identified as at risk of family violence,” says Ms Adams.
“The pilot has been making a real difference. There have been cases where serious harm or death was prevented as a result of the information sharing and inter-agency collaboration.”
Through the pilot there have been 776 cases reported per month in Christchurch and 951 per month in Waikato. Of these, between seven and 11 per cent are high risk cases which require intensive intervention involving Independent Victim Specialists and Perpetrator Outreach Services.
“Seeing the high volumes of family violence reported through the ISR pilot reinforces our Government’s commitment to building a better system for dealing with family violence,” says Mrs Tolley.
“The pilot allows us to test what works well and what could be done better so that we can ensure a new national model is robust, flexible and makes a real difference to the lives of victims and families.”
The ISR is expected to replace existing models of inter-agency family violence response as the Government maintains its focus on reducing family violence and protecting our most vulnerable.
Table: Types of incidents reported throughout the Pilot between July 2016 and start of February 2017
Threats of harm
A national summit on family violence will be hosted by Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley in Wellington on June 7.
“We know that family violence is a significant and complex issue in New Zealand, with Police responding to an incident every five minutes. That’s why I’ve made helping to reduce family violence my core priority,” says Ms Adams.
“Across New Zealand there are large numbers of people working hard every day to combat this horrific form of abuse. The Family Violence Summit will bring together people from the sector to continue the conversation around how we break the pattern of family violence and reduce the harm.”
The Summit will support the work already underway as part of the Government’s family violence reforms, which includes the introduction of the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill to overhaul the Domestic Violence Act and strengthen family violence laws.
“Family violence has devastating impacts on individuals, families and communities and costs New Zealand over $4 billion per year,” says Mrs Tolley.
“Agency and non-government organisation responses are typically siloed and difficult for people to navigate between. The Family Violence Summit will aim to contribute to a more joined up sector.”
Invitees will comprise of a broad cross-section of groups involved in combating family violence including NGOs, support workers, victims, and former perpetrators.
Thank you Lawrence for the invitation to speak today and to you all for the very warm welcome. Can I also acknowledge Brian Hanna, Chair of the Rural Sector, Jan Barnes, Chair of the Provincial Sector, and the many Mayors, Councillors and Chief Executives here this afternoon.
I have been asking for the local government portfolio for quite some time so I am really enjoying the role and the opportunity to attend events like this where I can talk with local government representatives from around the country.
Over the past few weeks I have spoken at both the Wellington Water Committee meeting as well as the LGNZ Zone Two meeting so I can already see a few familiar faces in the audience who will have heard some of what I am going to cover today.
But as I have done during these previous meetings, I want to make the most of this opportunity today to give you some insight into the relationship I would like to see between central and local government and to give you an update on the Better Local Services Reforms.
And I believe time has been set aside for questions and discussion, and I would love to hear your thoughts so we get the best out of our time here together today.
As some of you already know, I have been both a member of the Napier City and Hawke’s Bay Regional Councils, as well as now having the great honour of being the MP for the East Coast electorate.
I think it is a great advantage being able to see things from both sides of the equation.
I understand local authorities play an incredibly important role in our communities, and as your Minister I want to make sure that is recognised and respected.
One thing I have learned from my time in both the Beehive and the provinces is that more often than not outcomes are best for our communities when decisions and solutions are locally-led.
But I also know a strong, collaborative relationship between local and central government is essential if we are to truly achieve the best outcomes for those we represent.
After all, your focus might be local, but at the end of the day you and I serve the same people, share in the same big issues, and have the same desire to see our regions’ economies and communities thrive.
I think we have made some progress in establishing constructive working relationships, and the upcoming Central Government and Local Government Forum is a good example of this.
But I know there is always more we can do.
I know our councils and the communities you represent are diverse. Each differs in its natural resources, populations, infrastructure and people, and each community presents different strengths and challenges.
Rarely does one size fit all so our relationship is very important in figuring out which policy settings should be universal and which should be specific.
We need to be careful we do not legislate at the central level to manage what are often quite local issues.
But we also need to make sure we are assisting you and enabling you to meet the specific needs of your communities. I want to make it clear to you today that I am committed to ongoing engagement with the sector so my Ministerial colleagues and I can fully understand the impact of central government decisions on you at the local level.
I am especially aware of the importance of ensuring councils representing our rural and provincial populations are supported, and I know that as locally elected representatives you play a hugely important role in your communities.
You provide a focal point, vision, leadership and confidence that local voices are being heard.
So I want to make one thing clear today – when it comes to talk of democratic amalgamation I unequivocally believe that this should be for you and your communities to decide.
But many of you have small rating bases which can make it challenging to carry out many of your necessary functions, and you should not use an unfounded fear of democratic amalgamation as a reason to not embrace shared services.
It is essential we constantly look for ways that councils, especially our smaller councils, can work together to share expertise, resources and services.
This is what the Better Local Services Reforms are designed to achieve. The work we are doing with this legislation is about providing you with more choice and more flexibility in how you work together to provide local services to your communities.
As you are all well aware, the Better Local Services legislation is currently going through Parliament.
You will also know we have extended the select committee report-back date to allow for meaningful consideration of the issues that were raised through submissions.
I want to assure you I am committed to working with the local government sector to ensure a workable and enabling Bill comes out of the Select Committee.
Advice to the Select Committee is subject to Parliamentary Privilege until the Bill is reported back to the House, so I cannot comment on what is being discussed in that regard.
But what I can tell you today is that my Cabinet colleagues and I have taken LGNZ’s concerns seriously.
I understand your headline concern with the Bill is the proposed potential for the Local Government Commission to create multiply-owned council-controlled organisations (CCOs) without the agreement of all affected local authorities.
The policy objective behind this proposal was aimed at preventing local authorities from perpetually vetoing reform proposals to the detriment of their own local communities.
The Bill was never intended to enable the Commission to impose CCOs without full consultation with local authorities and communities.
So the Government’s position is that the power for the Commission to create multiply-owned CCOs without the agreement of all affected local authorities should be removed from the reform programme.
It is a change that is consistent with the intention that the Commission plays a collaborative and more proactive role, with close engagement with local authorities, for the benefit of both councils and the wider community.
I know many of you in the sector also raised concerns about the Bill’s provisions for new performance reporting measures.
In particular, there were concerns at what were seen as unilateral powers for the Minister of Local Government to require performance information relating to corporate accountability and new groups of activities.
My Government colleagues and I have now agreed that these proposed powers should be removed from the Bill.
I still consider it vitally important that councils provide good quality, comparable information about their performance to those you represent. Just as I am accountable to my constituents, it is important you are accountable to your communities.
However, I am of the opinion that the proposed regime may not have been the best way to approach this work.
I still believe there is work to be done on local government performance, but I consider the best approach is for you to lead this work in collaboration with central government.
I am heartened by the work on performance that is being advanced by sector organisations such as LGNZ and SOLGM, including through the Central Government-Local Government Chief Executives’ Forum, and I expect to see real progress in this area.
I want to assure today you that my Government colleagues and I have listened to your concerns around the Better Local Services Reforms.
As your Minister, it is important I understand what is and what is not working for you so I can better identify what role central government should play in moving forward. Like you, I want to ensure your autonomy, but I also want us to build a constructive, collaborative working relationship.
I am looking forward to continuing my engagement with your councils and LGNZ so we can continue to deliver better outcomes for the people we all represent.
Minister for Children Anne Tolley says she intends to write to Parliament’s Social Services Committee to propose changing the name of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 (the CYPF Act) to the Oranga Tamariki Act, to reflect the nature and wide-reaching scope of changes that are taking place through the overhaul of care and protection.
“By changing the name of the Act we would be demonstrating that the new system for care and protection, under the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, will be more than a rejig or a rebrand of CYF, and one in which the safety and wellbeing of the child comes before everything else,” says Mrs Tolley.
“The new legislation is much more wide-reaching and incorporates the new child-centred way of working, from early intervention all the way through to transition into adulthood for vulnerable children and young people, rather than the current model which reacts to crises.
“We have already passed legislation to amend the CYPF Act which extends the age of state care and protection to a young person’s 18th birthday, ensures that the views of children and young people are taken into account in individual decisions and services and policies which affect them, and supports the establishment of an independent youth advocacy service.
“A second major piece of legislation to amend the CYPF Act, the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Bill, is at the select committee stage in Parliament at the moment, and I will be asking the Social Services Committee to consult with oral submitters on the potential name change.”
Notes for editors:
Proposals in the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Bill include:Allowing young people to remain in care or return to care up until the age of 21, with transition support and advice available up to 25 Enabling the establishment of an information sharing framework to keep vulnerable children and young people safe from harm Extending the youth justice system to include lower-risk 17 year olds
The Bill also includes changes to the purposes and principles of the Act to:place children and young people at the centre of decision-making and consider them within the context of their families, whanau, hapu and iwi and broader networks and communities support families, whanau, hapu, iwi and caregivers and enable them to provide a safe, stable and loving home strengthen the relationships between children and young people and their family, whanau, hapu, and iwi, especially between siblings.
When making decisions under the CYPF Act, decision-makers will need to consider:The family, whanau and usual caregiver are strengthened and supported to enable them to care for the child or young person Wherever possible the relationship between the child or young person and their family, whanau and usual caregiver is respected, supported and strengthened, and The family, whanau, hapu, iwi and usual caregiver have a voice and a role in decisions made about the child or young person.
Families grappling with violence will be able to avoid contentious meetings during children handovers thanks to a new pilot launched by the Government.
“In the absence of funded supervised hand-over services, some victims of family violence risk continued exposure to violent and abusive behaviour as they facilitate their children’s contact with an ex-partner,” says Ms Adams.
“This behaviour not only affects adults, but may also have a significant detrimental impact on children. The pilot offers a safe environment where children under parenting arrangements can be handed over without parents or caregivers having to meet.
“This Government is unashamedly focused on vulnerable children. We know that children are affected by conflict between their parents and that there is a risk of incidents when children are transferred from one parent to the other. The supervised handover pilot will reduce this risk and help parents safely hand their children over,” Mrs Tolley says.
The supervised hand-over service is part of the Government’s $130 million Safer Sooner Family Violence reforms announced last year.
The pilot will assist 60 families over one year in Rotorua and Whanganui. $704,000 from the Justice Sector Fund will support the implementation and evaluation of the pilot.
It is a free service that will initially be available in cases where the Family Court has imposed protective conditions on a Parenting Order under section 51 or section 48 of the Care of Children Act 2004. The parties may be referred to the service at the discretion of the court.
Family Focus Rotorua has been contracted to deliver the service in Rotorua and Barnardos New Zealand in Whanganui.
Child Contact Centres for supervised hand-over, where there is family violence, are used in the United Kingdom and in Western Australia.
Minister for Children Anne Tolley says that extraordinary foster care families have been celebrated at an awards ceremony at Government House, as Foster Care Awareness week comes to an end.
Ten foster care families received awards for their dedication and devotion to supporting vulnerable children and young people at the Excellence in Foster Care ceremony, which was hosted by the Governor General, the Rt Hon Patsy Reddy.
“I was delighted to meet and talk to these wonderful families, and to thank them for their patience, resilience and strength,” says Mrs Tolley.
“They provide loving and stable homes, often under very challenging circumstances, to ensure that young people can be safe and secure and have a sense of belonging, free from abuse and neglect.
“Fostering Kids New Zealand, which has partnered with CYF to organise the awards, will in future have close ties to the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, through the radical overhaul of care and protection.
“We are currently working on how we can better support foster carers as part of the overhaul, and how we can recruit and retain more of these fantastic people, so we can help vulnerable children and young people recover from the trauma they have suffered and go on to thrive and lead successful and happy lives.
“I want to congratulate those families who received awards today, and thank all of the amazing foster carers who work tirelessly every single day to improve the lives of young New Zealanders.”
Minister for Children Anne Tolley says that events are being held all around New Zealand this Sunday to celebrate Children’s Day, as Foster Care Awareness week gets under way.
“Sunday will mark the 17th annual Children’s Day, as we celebrate our youngest New Zealanders,” says Mrs Tolley.
“This is all about spending time with our children, having fun, praising and encouraging them, and focusing on giving them the opportunity to thrive.”
“Sunday also sees the start of Foster Care Awareness week, as we acknowledge the crucial work that these fantastic people do in our communities.
“We have over 3,600 foster carers in this country who have opened their hearts and their homes to almost 4,500 children and young people, who through no fault of their own are in care.
“These current foster carers, and those who will join us in the years ahead, will play an integral part in the overhaul of care and protection each and every day under the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, and as we raise the age of care and support.
“But we need to do more than just appreciate caregivers. As part of the overhaul we have pledged to provide intensive targeted support for foster carers including some increased financial assistance and better access to support services, and we are working on this at the moment.
“The new care and protection system will be completely child-centred. It also requires loving adults to provide the safe and stable homes that vulnerable children deserve, and I want to thank all of the caregivers for the difference they make in young people’s lives.”