August 06, 2020
Media Release: SUBSEQUENT PROVISIONS OF ORANGA TAMARIKI ACT TO CHANGE
SUBSEQUENT PROVISIONS OF ORANGA TAMARIKI ACT TO CHANGE
Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is relieved to see the announcement made today at the Iwi Leaders Forum that Cabinet has decided to repeal the subsequent children provisions of the Oranga Tamariki Act. The subsequent children provisions came into effect in 2016 and apply where a child comes to the attention of Oranga Tamariki because the parent has previously had a child removed from their care.
“This announcement has clearly been influenced by the advocacy of the Māori Design Group (MDG), and the recommendations from the Māori Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki, Ko te Wā Whakawhiti” said Helen Leahy, Pouārahi of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.
“Both the MDG and the North and South Island Whānau Ora Commissioning Agencies have been persistent with our concern that whānau are often the least resourced and the most neglected group in the context of children in care” said Ms Leahy.
“Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu has argued for adequate resourcing to provide for guided family decision making; to invest in whānau contact tracing; to assist whānau to develop a stronger understanding of their own strengths. We believe that whānau have not received the equivalent of professional development, respite care, parenting education and resources to enable them to surround their tamariki with all that they need.
“At the Waitangi Tribunal inquiry into Oranga Tamariki last week I talked about the evidence from David Tobis, author of From Pariahs to Partners, – how parents and their allies changed New York’s city’s child welfare system. David Tobis nails a simple argument : that unless they are in extreme danger children do better with their families than they do in care. In the early 1990s, almost 50,000 children were in New York city’s foster care system. In 2012 there were fewer than 14,000. The radical change that occurred was driven largely by a movement of mothers whose children had been placed in care; who became vital stakeholders in a system that had previously viewed them as pariahs. Mr Tobis will be a keynote speaker at our symposium later this year”.
“Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu has consistently argued that the most important thing we can do in the child wellbeing space, is to resource, invest and believe in the power and potential of whānau to do for themselves”.
“The other point that we want to emphasize is that the social work sector must be supported with appropriate education to overcome the presumption of guilt for the family. Too often practitioners presume when working with a family of a child in care, that the next child has to be taken into care and protection. That’s a presumption of guilt over innocence that we must not tolerate. We welcome the commitment to repeal as signalling a commitment to a culture change. We will be looking to every party to prioritise the repeal within their first 100 days manifesto for the new government”.
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