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'They aren't getting any better': Callers share Oranga Tamariki experiences

Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Monday, 1 April 2019, 3:57PM
A report has found that 220 children who were removed from their families to keep them safe went on to be harmed in state care over a six-month period. (Photo / Getty)

Families who have experienced Oranga Tamariki first-hand say the organisation is not doing enough to help families or the children in their care.

It comes after a report last month, the first from Oranga Tamariki's new reporting system on child harm, found that more than 220 children who were removed from their families to keep them safe went on to be harmed in state care over a six-month period.

In the worst cases, children had been raped or beaten. Several incidents led to criminal charges.

Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Children, set up the new reporting system last year, to replace the patchy, narrowly-focused one used by its predecessor Child, Youth and Family.

The new system is one of broadest and most detailed in any jurisdiction. It records abuse committed against a child by anyone, not just the caregiver, and in any location, not just within the child's placement. It records all incidents of harm, accidental and intentional, and ranging from over-zealous discipline of a child through to severe physical or sexual assaults.

As of June last year, there were 6350 children and young people in state care in New Zealand. Between July and September, 130 of them were found to have been harmed. Between October and December, 97 were found to be been harmed.

Some of the incidents were historical but were first reported during this period. A few children were harmed more than once. They were mostly likely to have been abused by caregivers, though many of the sexual assaults were committed by other young people or unrelated adults.

Callers to Andrew Dickens Afternoon echoed the reports findings. 

Mohini told Andrew that she knows from personal experience Oranga Tamariki that they "are not getting any better", and are breaching their own policies.  

"Once they take a kid off the parents, they do not allow any other family members who ever showed interest, who they should have contacted in the first place, to be able to assist the little kid anymore." 

She says that one of her nieces was taken off her sister, and that Mohini and her husband asked to get in touch with who was looking after her, but she was not allowed to make contact. 

"How come, in the time it took to give the kid away, no one contacted us to ask if we wanted to keep the child?" 

Bob, who has family that work for Oranga Tamariki, doubts Mohini's story.

"The most important part she left out is why the child was taken away from the family in the first place?"

He says that his family members have seen horrific things through their line of work, and there are two sides to every story. 

Another caller, Sarah, says that her experience with the agency has been "amazing" and they have helped with her situation.

She admits that some social workers don't give you as much information as you would like, and that you can sometimes not get along with them which can cause difficulty, but Sarah believes they have got better. 

"People who have had bad experiences with them aren't going to like anyone from Oranga Tamariki." 

Sarah says that few people will speak positively about the organisation as they have had their children taken away from them. 

"Back in the day, they were taken away for just any reason, but now they can't just take them away for a silly reason. They are actually getting more and more reports about a particular case." 

ON AIR: The Devlin Radio Show

12PM - 3PM