June 28, 2023
OT staff still being paid after two-year suspension
From te Whare Paremata:
Three Oranga Tamariki staff remain on paid leave inspite of being suspended over two years ago.
The staffers were suspended following an investigation into care and protection issues at the 10-bed Te Oranga children’s home in Christchurch.
Oranga Tamariki under the stewardship of the late Tā Wira Gardener launched an investigation and closed the facility in June 2021, after a leaked video showed a boy being tackled and held in a headlock.
28 staff who worked at the Te Oranga had been redeployed to other sites and roles.
Four staff were suspended but Minister for Children Kelvin Davis said it is down to three who are now facing an Employment Relations Authority process. The time lag is due to the initial investigation which took more than a week to completed.
“The review has been completed into what happened there. Sir Wira Gardiner at the time did implement the child protection protocols, that involved a police investigation that has taken over a year and now the situation with – it’s now three staff – is with the ERA.
“I’d like for employment issues to be resolved a lot faster but because it’s with the ERA, that has to be allowed to take its course.” says Minister Davis.
He said it was all up to the ERA, it would be inappropriate for Oranga Tamariki to pre-empt any outcome, and he had not been informed of any update on how long it could take.
Oranga Tamariki deputy chief executive for residences and community homes Mike Bush confirmed there were three ongoing employment processes, which had reduced from four when the process was started.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon he acknowledges the employment process has taken time, but is not unusual when dealing with such complex matters.
“Given the scale of this mass allegation investigation, including two independent investigations, and a police investigation this has taken a considerable period of time to conclude.
“We needed to be confident that the extent of concerns were understood, ensure that tamariki who were involved were heard and responded to and so that our staff were given opportunities to respond and contribute to the investigations findings.”
As it was an ongoing employment matter, Oranga Tamariki could not comment further, Bush said.