Press Statement:

02 May 2024 

“Our voices have been heard!” – Care experienced young people welcome changes to Oranga Tamariki Oversight System.

The news today of a decision to enhance the Oversight of Oranga Tamariki System has been applauded by those who work closely with care experienced tamariki. 

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai has been advocating for care experienced tamariki since 2017, and CEO Tracie Shipton says it is reassuring that the government has heard the concerns of our young people and is taking steps to respond. We are pleased with the proposed changes, in particular the increased independence of the children’s monitor function.

“These changes will strengthen the monitoring and accountability mechanisms for the care provided by Oranga Tamariki, and this can only benefit generations yet to come.”

In 2022, the Labour government passed the Oversight of Oranga Tamariki System bill, despite widespread opposition that it would weaken oversight. 

The bill placed the Independent Children’s Monitor within a government department, shifted complaints and investigations to the Ombudsman, and replaced the role of Children’s Commissioner with a Board of Commissioners. 

“This effectively left a government department to monitor itself. A decision that tamariki were not adequately consulted about and many in the children’s sector opposed.”

Today Social Development Minister Louise Upston announced a raft of changes, including:

  • Making the Independent Children’s Monitor an independent crown entity rather than a government department
  • Reinstating the role of Children’s Commissioner 
  • Fast-tracking a review of the oversight system for completion this year
  • Ensuring the changes allow for input from the final report of the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry

“Overall, these changes are hugely positive. Increasing the level of independence of the Children’s monitor will increase their ability to hold Oranga Tamariki to account when needed, and will increase the trust and confidence of care experienced young people that this will occur.”

“Reverting to an appointed Children’s Commissioner will simplify things for tamariki, with an identifiable and relatable person there for them to turn to.” 

National Care Experienced Youth Participation Advisor Mary-Lynn Huxford, who spoke about the bill back in 2022, has also welcomed today’s announcement. 

“I’m so pleased to finally see a government decision about the care sector being informed by those who are care-experienced.”

“I also want to acknowledge the many voices who spoke in 2022 and have continued to advocate since.”

“This is a win for us all and a win for our tamariki in state care.”

Shipton has also acknowledged the Minister, and other opposition MPs who were involved in the select committee process in 2022. 

“You heard our care experienced youth, and did not forget that you had the opportunity to make change.” 

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