July 1 brings promising changes to the lives of care experienced in New Zealand.

A number of significant amendments to the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 (Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989) come into force today 1 July 2019. The overarching purpose is to ensure that children’s wellbeing is the primary focus, with recognition that this is inextricably linked to their relationships within whanau, hapu and iwi, and must be promoted.

Duties to recognise and commit to principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Under the new section 7AA of the Act specific duties are imposed on the chief executive in order to “recognise and provide a practical commitment to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (te Tiriti o Waitangi).” These include:

  • Setting measurable outcomes for Māori children and young persons who come to the attention of the department.
  • Having regard to mana tamaiti (tamariki) and the whakapapa of Māori children and young persons and the whanaungatanga responsibilities of their whānau hapū and iwi.
  • Seeking to develop strategic partnerships with iwi and Māori organisations including iwi authorities.

Transitioning out of care

A new nationwide Transition Support Service will start on 1 July 2019 for young people leaving the care and youth justice system. Changes allow young people to remain or return to living with a caregiver until the age of 21 with transition support and advice available up to age 25.

Changes also extend the youth justice system to include most 17-year-olds.

National Care Standards

There are six parts to the National Care Standards which applies to organisations that have a child or young person in their care or custody under the Oranga Tamariki Act.

  • Part One: Needs assessments plans visits and collection of information about children and young people
  • Part Two: Support to address child’s or young person’s needs
  • Part Three: Caregiver and care placement assessment and support
  • Part Four: Supporting children and young people to express their views and contribute to their care experience
  • Part Five: Supporting children and young people during care transitions
  • Part Six: Monitoring and reporting on compliance with these regulations

Monitoring systemic advocacy complaints oversight and investigations

There are significant changes to the oversight of the system to support the experience of children in care. The wellbeing and interests of children are at the centre of how the state delivers care and support.

  • The Ombudsman has been tasked with providing an enhanced complaints oversight and investigations function relating to the Oranga Tamariki system given their expertise in this area.
  • The Ministry of Social Development will be tasked with establishing and operating the new regulatory monitor function with the intention to transfer to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner once it is running effectively.
  • VOYCE-Whakarongo Mai has an advocacy role with respect to children in care.

These July 1 changes are covered in great detail via the NZFVC article linked here: https://nzfvc.org.nz/news/changes-under-oranga-tamariki-act-1989-effect-1-july-2019