Independent Review of the Children’s System Response to Abuse

This independent review by Dame Karen Poutasi into the children’s system response to abuse was commissioned by the Chief Executives of six public sector agencies. The review follows the murder of five-year-old Malachi Subecz by his carer Michaela Barriball in November 2021.

The 6 agencies that commissioned the review are:

  • Ara Poutama Aotearoa – Department of Corrections 
  • Ngā Pirihimana o Aotearoa – New Zealand Police
  • Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children
  • Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga – Ministry of Education
  • Manatū Hauora – Ministry of Health
  • Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora – Ministry of Social Development.

Each of these agencies completed their own reports into their interactions – direct and indirect – with Malachi, his mother, his wider whānau, and Michaela Barriball. The Chief Executives of the 6 agencies then commissioned this review to identify whether the system as a whole could have done more to prevent harm being done to Malachi.

The review found 5 critical gaps that can result in a child at risk becoming invisible to the system and makes 14 recommendations to create stronger safety nets.

Published: December 1, 2022 · Updated: December 14, 2023