IHC says Oranga Tamariki Bill puts children at risk
IHC says the Oversight of Oranga Tamariki System and Children and Young People's Commission Bill undermines the protection of children, particularly intellectually disabled and Māori children.
Tania Thomas, IHC Director of Advocacy, says the Bill must be withdrawn and redrafted to ensure children’s rights are paramount.
“This includes partnering with Māori and consulting with intellectually disabled children and their whānau who are also disproportionally affected by the child protection system.
“I question how much input those most impacted had in drafting the Bill and the proposed changes have the potential to do them harm by making it difficult to raise concerns or make complaints.
“Any redrafting of the Bill should only occur after the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care has handed down its final report.” The Commission’s report is due to be delivered by June 2023.
“Monitoring of Oranga Tamariki needs to be independent of government. Issues of importance to children and young people naturally sit with the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
“The proposed monitoring and complaints system in the current Bill is complex, confusing and likely to water down the powers of all agencies involved."
Tania Thomas says another concern is that the Bill doesn’t respect Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the right of Māori to exercise authority over their communities with minimal Crown intervention.
“This includes the care and protection of their tamariki who have been and are consistently failed by culturally unresponsive systems.
“Despite the strong opposition from leading frontline experts, the government is pushing ahead with the Bill. This runs counter to the ticket Labour came into power on, promising to make Aotearoa the best place in the world to be a child.”