VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai Calls on Government to Reconsider Independent Children’s Monitor Placement Within ERO

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai recommends the word “Independent” be removed from the name “Independent Children’s Monitor” following the Government’s announcement that it will now sit within the Education Review Office (ERO).

The Independent Children’s Monitor (ICM) was established by the Government in 2019 for the purpose of “monitoring, assessing and reporting on the performance of agencies that look after tamariki and rangatahi”, namely Oranga Tamariki.

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai CEO, Tracie Shipton, says “the placement of this new watchdog within ERO is an attempt by the Government to have the ICM appear independent from Government, while still holding it within the bowels of Government”.

Ms Shipton says the alignment of the ICM with ERO banishes the ‘independent’ body to a closed system, with a compliance-driven kaupapa rather than rights-based. “Establishing the ICM was an opportunity to have something profoundly different, to do right by young people, and we are disappointed by this decision. An opportunity to lead the way has been lost and we owe it to our young people to do better”.

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai urges the Government to ensure the integrity of the Independent Children’s Monitor by considering establishing it as an Independent Crown Entity.

Further background:
The Independent Children’s Monitor was established following the findings from the independent report outlining the poor outcomes of the NZ state care system. The Government committed to creating national care standards governing how children in state care should be looked after, which would be held to account by an Independent Children’s Monitor.

Set up in 2019, the Independent Children’s Monitor (ICM) has sat within the Ministry of Social Development as it established itself. The Government had maintained the monitoring body would ultimately move to sit alongside the Office of the Children’s Commissioner to ensure its independence in monitoring the Government department that manages tamariki and rangatahi in state care, Oranga Tamariki. This recent decision is a U-turn on that previous commitment.