Lived experience needed to improve OT Oversight Bill

Despite overwhelming political and social sector opposition, the proposed Oranga Tamariki Oversight Bill will become law next year.

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai opposed this Bill on the grounds that its design contradicts its objective, it weakens rather than strengthens the oversight of Oranga Tamariki.

Whakarongo Mai – Listen to me

Care experienced young people have been vocal about their concerns, including speaking at Select Committee, directly to the responsible Minister and in the media. Their feedback has not translated into any meaningful changes, raising further concerns that the Bill has been predetermined and rushed through.

VOYCE would like to tautoko the mahi from those with lived experience in the face of tight timeframes and last-minute public consultation.

“It’s important to remember those with lived experience are the most invested in getting policy and systems right for our young people, because they understand what it feels like to be stuck in a system that doesn’t provide a safe, nurturing environment to be a child,” says National Care Experience Lead for VOYCE, Tupua Urlich.

Tautoko Karen Chhour, Jan Logie, Louise Upston, Debbie Ngarewa Packer, Maureen Pugh

The third reading was an acknowledgement of the power of the voices of lived experience, with their powerful words quoted by every single other party in the House. VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai would like to acknowledge MPs from the Green Party, ACT, National and Te Paati Māori. These politicians actively listened and pushed politics aside to fight for a better oversight system.

Monitoring must be truly independent

Opponents of this Bill are not against it because they have ‘misunderstood’ its points. Infact their fluency of the Bill has been shown consistently with their robust and specific insights on how to improve it.

“VOYCE will continue to champion the voices of lived experience and have positive influence. We must work alongside decisionmakers as they implement legislation and evolve systems. Our children deserve to thrive and to be safe,” said VOYCE Chief Executive, Tracie Shipton.

Ensuring true independence of the ‘Independent’ Children’s Monitor is VOYCE’s top priority. Government must not monitor Government, and this independence is key in gaining any trust and positive engagement with the communities the Monitor is tasked with keeping safe.

Connection and alignment

The siloed and complex nature of the new oversight system will be harder for young people to navigate. Functionally, we must work together to find ways for monitoring and advocacy to work together safely to ensure better outcomes for all young New Zealanders.

Those with lived experience of the care system must be included in the design and consultation of the scheduled review of the legislation in 3 years’ time.

VOYCE supports the oversight legislation being updated to include the recommendations of the Royal Commission’s final report due next year. The legislation also needs to align with the Oranga Tamariki Action Plan, to ensure young people don’t fall through any further systemic gaps.

“The monitoring of a system responsible for causing so much harm, over such a long period, to so many of our people is too important,” concluded Tupua Urlich.