Oranga Tamariki plays a critical role in realising the Government’s vision that New Zealand is the best place in the world for children and young people.
It is a Ministry founded on a fundamentally different approach – one of listening and learning. It's important that the voices of children and young people, families, whānau, hapū, and iwi, alongside caregivers, Māori organisations and NGO partners, are at the centre as we work with others to design a new way of doing things.
The origin of the Oranga Tamariki vision is partnership. The first part of the vision is the landmark 1988 report Puao-te-Ata-tu, which examined issues of racism and inequity within the-then Department of Social Welfare. The second part is the 2015 Expert Advisory Panel report, convened to propose a way to execute a fundamentally different way of doing things. Together, they called for a commitment to deliver on our obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi and to create outcomes that all New Zealand children deserved, while reducing the disparities experienced by tamariki Māori.
The Ministry would be equipped with the legislation, resources, policies, practices and remit that it needed to do what Child, Youth and Family had never been set up for – intervening earlier, supporting families to stay together and breaking intergenerational cycles.
The scale of change that was - and is - needed, requires us to work broadly across the sector; including with whānau, hāpu, iwi and Māori organisations caregiving families, NGOs and other Government agencies involved in the wellbeing of children.
But we can't do it alone - as with our roots in the partnship of two reports, the Ministry was founded to work alongside our partners.
It also requires that we remain focused on the needs of children we serve, through innovations like our Youth Advisory Group and the independent advocacy service VOYCE - Whakorongo Mai.
Year one - laying a stable foundations
The scale of organisational and systemic change needed would be at least a five year journey. We inherited a system recognised as fundamentally failing the children of New Zealand, with a long way to go to put it right. Indeed, while five years was set aside to transform the organisation, for whānau and wider society this shift is generational – but we could start making a difference immediately.
The 2017/18 year was all about fixing many of those most urgent shortcomings of the system as it was under Child, Youth, and Family; including raising the age of care to 17, investment in early interventions, giving our partners confidence with greater use of long term funding, significantly reducing the time young people were spending in police cells after offending, ensuring more tamariki Māori in care were placed with whānau, and strengthening social work practice to start.
Year two - building a new way
In our second full year as a new Ministry in 2018/19, our focus began to move beyond fixing and enhancing the system that already existed, and toward building the transformed system promised over the coming years.
A key focus for 2018-2019 year was getting in place the building blocks to deliver on these changes for the year to come as set out in the amendments to the Oranga Tamariki Act (formerly Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act).
Year three - transformation via partnership
Coming in to the third year of our transformation, the system received the resourcing needed through Budget 2019. This invested more money than ever before into Oranga Tamariki – and through us to our more than five hundred partners – to provide the new services that children, young people, and their families have told us they need.
To do this, we need to work with children using our newly developed Mana Tamaiti objectives to guide us.
Over the coming year the emphasis on partnership will become stronger guided by the principles of section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act which requires us to set measurable outcomes to reduce disparities between Māori and non-Māori.
We are working closely with iwi and now have four strategic partnerships.
Our Mana Tamaiti objectives are:
- ensuring the participation of tamariki Māori, rangatahi, whānau, hapū, and iwi in decisions affecting them at the earliest opportunity;
- supporting, strengthening and assisting whānau Māori to care for their tamariki and rangatahi to prevent the need for them to enter care or youth justice;
- supporting tamariki Māori to establish, maintain and strengthen their sense of belonging through cultural identity and connections to whānau, hapū and iwi;
- prioritising placement of tamariki Māori within their broader whānau, hapū and iwi wherever possible; and
- supporting, strengthening, and assisting tamariki and rangatahi Māori and their whānau to prepare for their return home or transition into the community.