4 Apr 2017

Keep it in the family

From The House, 10:35 pm on 4 April 2017

Children and family advocacy groups say a bill aimed at creating a child-centered model risks ignoring the significance of family to a child.


Anne Tolley

Minister for Children Anne Tolley says the newly created Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki will be child-centered. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly



Last week Minister for Children Anne Tolley and Prime Minister Bill English launched the Ministry for Vulnerable Children - Oranga Tamariki signalling the end of Child Youth and Family.


On Tuesday Ms Tolley told the House it signals a move towards a more child centred care and protection system “focused on prevention and early intervention.”


“[It] will work with families and whanau to ensure children and young people get access to the care and support they need,” she said.


But not all agree that proposed legislation will enable this to happen.


Bill English and Anne Tolley meet youth advocates at the Oranga Tamariki launch.

Bill English and Anne Tolley meet youth advocates at the Oranga Tamariki launch. Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell


Over 300 submissions have been made to the Social Services Committee  on the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Bill with many concerned that it won’t help children stay connected to their family.


“Disabled children belong in families and families need to have a strong say in supporting them for their whole entire lives. Paid support comes and goes but families remain,”said IHC New Zealand director of advocacy Trish Grant.


She said there is a risk the legislation will fail to acknowledge the importance of family input to any decisions surrounding the well-being of a child.


“On one hand we want families to be stronger, have resilience, be well supported and communities to look after their own,” said Ms Grant,


“On the other hand with this Bill the real problem’s attached to undermining the importance of families, whanau, hapu and iwi in being able to make decisions”.


The committee is continuing to hear submissions and is due to report back to the House in June.


Return to the trenches


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Photo: RNZ


After a week’s break, the first day back in the trenches was a chance for the opposition to renew questioning in areas where they feel the government is on the back foot; as well as advancing new lines of attack on fresh issues.

Question Time was their chance for the big push.

The first probing advance was on the government’s Afghanistan flank, looking for defensive holes following the investigation published by Nicky Hagar and Jon Stephenson, and after the Prime Minister yesterday ruled out an inquiry into the conduct of operation Burnham.

The questioning took a sudden turn for the dramatic when the Prime Minister said that to answer why decisions were taken by the previous prime minister, one “would need to go back and have a look at what the technical aspects of the decisions were” before apparently realising that he sounded like he was arguing for an inquiry rather than against one.

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