July 05, 2018
Whanau frozen in family conferences
The new Children’s Ministry needs to up its performance in dealing with whānau and hapu if it doesn’t want to keep repeating the mistakes of the past.
That was one of the conclusions of a workshop of Māori support workers and lawyers in Kirikiroa this week to learn about the legal rights of families who come to the attention of Ōranga Tamariki.
Auckland University of Technology senior law lecturer Khylee Quince says problems with the way family group conferences are handled may contribute to the high number of Māori children in care, as their families don’t know what their rights are and how to get the best from the process.
While care and protection and youth justice legislation has included references to whānau, hapu and iwi for 30 years, there has been no mechanisms to put that language into action.
"Ōranga Tamariki needs to up its game in terms of educating its social workers to be able to operate biculturally, if you want to use that language, so they understand who is whānau, who are we supposed to be contacting or attempting to facilitate to come to different forums such as family group conferences and how do we find them?" Ms Quince says.
'She says some iwi are developing useful advocacy services, such as Mokopuna Ora in Waikato, which can help whānau navigate the system and keep their tamariki out of state care.
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