Safety of Children in Care Report finds 103 children harmed from January to March 2019

Ryan Bridge 23/07/2019

Hoani Lambert, Oranga Tamariki Deputy Chief Executive joins Magic Talk Drive to talk to Ryan Bridge following the release of the Safety of Children in Care report 2019.

This report covers the three month period from January to March 2019, in which 103 children were harmed.

Ryan begins the interview by asking if this is good enough? Hoani admits that it is not, “No, and it’s a continuation of what we have seen in other quarters.”

A single child being harmed, whether in care or not is not good enough.

The alarming statistic prompts Ryan to ask who is responsible for causing harm to children, is it the parents and caregivers?

“It’s a combination, really”, Hoanis says, “in the case of 19 children who experienced sexual harm there were no parents, no caregivers involved, they were relationships that had been formed outside of the caregiving arrangements.”

Hoani explains that children over the age of 16 may consent to relationships with older individuals, though as a result of the power imbalance inherent in those relationships, the agency considers that sexual harm.

Breaking down the figures Ryan asks who is the cause of most of the statistics parents or caregivers?Hoani tells Ryan how of the 16 cases of neglect 14 were as a result of parents and of the 33 cases of emotional pain most were parents.

When Ryan asks what will be done differently to address these statistics, Hoani mentions that they are “piloting a new intensive intervention service in five locations.”

“The service will involve Community Whanau Worker, working with low caseloads and high intensity with these families to make sure they are getting the support they require.

That's a big shift for us as an agency. We think it's one that will make a big difference.

H explains, “the idea of this service is not just to identify the harm but to stop it happening initially.”

Ryan then wants to know what happened in the 103 reported cases. Hoani tells Ryan how a social worker investigates each one and removes the child if it is unsafe. He also tells Ryan that the most regrettable cases are those that are avoidable.

“We see issues with us not providing the requisite training and support for our caregivers to manage challenging behaviours that these children present.”

He says, “these children it's not their fault they are presenting these behaviours.”

Many of them have experienced high level trauma early in life.

Given the performance of prior agencies Ryan ask why should the public trust Oranga Tamariki will do any better?

“There's no other agency in the world that provides this reporting on a regular basis nor such a comprehensive report.”

“We are holding ourselves to account not something our predecessors done nor other agencies around the world.”

Listen to the full interview above.