Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board

Cabinet papers to acknowledge that Minister for Children, Hon Kelvin Davis, intended to establish a Ministerial Advisory Board to provide advice regarding Oranga Tamariki.

The Board has been established to provide independent advice and assurance to the Minister for Children across three key areas of Oranga Tamariki, as detailed below.

Relationships

Relationships with families, whānau, hapu, iwi, and Māori including but not limited to:

  • If and how the organisation has improved its capability to engage with Māori, including its current ways of working with Māori and/or how it is devolving decision making and actions to Māori for Māori.
  • If and how there has been an improvement in the understanding and incorporation of te ao Māori into its work, with a focus on the front line.
  • If and how the aims and aspirations of local Māori and local communities are acknowledged and what actions are taken at local and regional levels to partner to deliver on these aspirations.
  • What opportunities are there to enhance the experience and value of Māori social workers in the organisation.

Social work

Professional social work practices including but not limited to:

  • Assurance that the organisation is exemplifying quality social work practices that reflect the standards expected by and of the profession.
  • How the organisation is ensuring professional opinion in statutory decision making is respected.
  • If and how practices are inclusive and respectful of professional opinion and advice, including when opinions differ.
  • Oranga Tamariki commitment to training staff from onboarding through to professional development.
  • Assurance that a mindset of continuous improvement exists which involves identifying what is working and what is not. That functions exists to allow these learnings to be fed back into the organisation in order to strengthen it.
  • Assurance that continuous improvement includes professional development and appropriate training of staff.

Organisational culture

Organisational culture including but not limited to:

  • Assurance that the whole organisation practises and adheres to the Positive Workplace Behaviours Model Standards.
  • Improvements required to strengthen the connection and alignment between leadership, management, and front-line staff.
  • Assurance that the organisation has robust procedures in place that relate to the confidence of staff that they can “speak up” safely.
  • Understanding on the front line and at regional level of the operating model, the vision of devolvement for the future, and their individual roles in achieving that vision.

Future Direction for Oranga Tamariki

In August 2021 Cabinet accepted the recommendations of the Board and agreed to the future direction of Oranga Tamariki for the next two to five years. This included an Action Plan that draws together themes from across Hipokingia ki te Kahu Aroha Hipokingia ki te Katoa, the report of the Ministerial Advisory Board as well as recommendations from previous reviews and the Waitangi Tribunal report.

The Cabinet paper acknowledges that there will always be a need for a state care and protection agency for all tamariki or children in New Zealand. This role and responsibility, the power to remove tamariki or children from their whānau or family, should be utilised in extreme situations and not as a go-to solution for complex situations.

It also recognises that Oranga Tamariki has a dual role:

  • a high-performing, highly trusted statutory care and protection and youth justice agency
  • an enabler and co-ordinator for Māori and communities, to empower them to put in place the support, the solutions and the services that they know will work for their people.

The Cabinet paper identifies three areas of focus aligned to the overarching themes from recommendations in the Ministerial Advisory Board’s Report:

  • making operational change and addressing organisational culture.
  • building relationships and partnering to enable better wellbeing outcomes for tamariki or children and whānau or family.
  • enhancing the mana of social work practice.

Delivery of these areas of focus will be through an Action Plan, which will ensure Oranga Tamariki is in the best position to deliver better outcomes for children and whānau, empower staff to excel, enable local approaches, and lead across the system.

To aid implementation of the Action Plan, the recommendations from the Ministerial Advisory Board report, previous reviews and the Waitangi Tribunal Inquiry report have been grouped into five areas:

  1. Organisational Blueprint – to support and deliver transformation, we need a structure that aligns functions to best effect, has clear accountabilities, reduces duplication, and supports joined-up approaches across functions that need to work together
  2. People and culture – the long-term success of operational and structural changes hinges on the creation of a culture that acts as an accelerator of positive change
  3. Relationships, partnering, and decision-making – to put tamariki or children and whānau or family at the centre of the system, we will build required levels of trust and capability, alignment, and transparency to achieve authentic and genuine partnership and participation, including the participation of tamariki and rangatahi
  4. Social work practice – we will enhance the mana of social workers across both the agency and the wider care and protection sector, so we can better support tamariki, rangatahi and whānau needs
  5. Data, insights and evidence – the data, research and information flows to enable this future system and support ongoing system change. This includes ensuring our understanding of how tamariki are experiencing care is current, accurate and equitable.

The Cabinet paper also recognises that oversight and structures will be required to ensure that the actions and changes happen at pace.  Oranga Tamariki is tasked with supporting the Ministerial Advisory Board to develop options for a permanent governance board for Oranga Tamariki.

 The Minister for Children will report back to Cabinet in February 2022 on:

  • the implementation of the Action Plan
  • options for a permanent governance board for Oranga Tamariki
  • the development of a workforce strategy
  • regional funding and decision-making.

Published: November 5, 2021