The Government has released details of the changes it will be making to Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children, after it accepted all recommendations made by a ministerial advisory board. The board made three overarching recommendations for the overhaul of Oranga Tamariki, focusing on Māori community involvement and prevention of harm.

1.    The first recommendation made by the board was that in order to prevent harm to tamariki and their whānau, collective Māori and community responsibility and authority must be strengthened and restored.

This will involve Oranga Tamariki undertaking an engagement programme with Māori communities. Over time, Māori and community groups will then take on Oranga Tamariki’s services and support. This will lead to a focus on harm prevention, which the board believes Māori collectives and communities are best placed to lead.

2.    The second recommendation made by the board was that the purpose of Oranga Tamariki must be clarified in order to allow it to work collaboratively with Māori, community organisations and other government agencies.

This will in turn help Oranga Tamariki to determine what can be led by Māori and the community. The board found that the current systems are not suited to the whānau and tamariki Oranga Tamariki serves, and there is a need to reinforce the social work focus within Oranga Tamariki.

3.    The final recommendation was for a national Oranga Tamariki governing board to oversee these changes, which are necessary to improve outcomes and prevent harm.

This will give guidance to Oranga Tamariki in devolving its authority and resources to Māori collectives and community groups and will ensure these groups are supported to lead prevention and other programmes and services.

A large part of these recommendations focuses on the increased role that whānau, hapu, and iwi will have when these changes are made, and Oranga Tamariki has indicated it will begin implementing them immediately.

It is therefore important for these groups to understand what their roles and responsibilities will be.