Question Three

Describe any developments in your practice regarding the way you respond to allegations of harm in relation to tamariki Māori.

The Monitor’s December 2019 report highlighted gaps in the service response that could be offered to tamariki Māori when an allegation of a risk of harm caused by abuse or neglect had been made. The Monitor sought to understand the subsequent work each agency had completed in this area.

All agencies provided evidence that they continue to develop policies, procedures and practice enhancements to support better outcomes for tamariki, rangatahi and whānau.

Open Home Foundation

Open Home Foundation reported it is strengthening its approach towards providing support. Policy and practice documents are being updated as part of a wider plan to improve its response for Māori.

Te Kaiwhakahaere Matua11 has spent time at each of the service centres to upskill staff on the cultural supports available for tamariki. This included working with teams on the importance of mana tamaiti (the child’s rights) and their role in enhancing this for all tamariki and rangatahi in care. Current practice includes consulting Te Kaiwhakahaere Matua in any case where the child at the centre of the allegation of harm is Māori.

Open Home Foundation is also investigating how to update the client management system to automatically alert Te Kaiwhakahaere Matua and Kaitiaki12 when a service centre is working with tamariki Māori or rangatahi Māori and their whānau so any cultural support needed is identified at the start of the process.

Dingwall Trust

Dingwall Trust reported that it does not draw a distinction in how it responds to abuse or neglect of children or young people based on legal status or a child’s ethnicity, stating that these do not affect its duty to respond.

Dingwall Trust described having “robust cultural practices in place”, which it is working to enhance through the development of an organisation-wide cultural approach. It is seeking cultural support and guidance before engaging a cultural audit. This will feed into the development of its organisational strategic plan.

Barnardos

Barnardos reported it is developing strategic relationships with iwi to better meet the individual needs of tamariki Māori. A new cultural advisor role has been established in Christchurch to provide all staff with cultural support in situations where there is an allegation of a risk of harm caused by abuse or neglect.

Oranga Tamariki

The Monitor’s initial report highlighted the policy and practice developments already completed by Oranga Tamariki regarding its response to allegations of harm or neglect for tamariki Māori in its care.

It reported that it had implemented new Quality Assurance Standards relating to Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, which underpin the development of all policies, practices and services that impact tamariki and whānau Māori13. It also reported further practice enhancements to the guidance on “Working with tamariki and rangatahi in care when allegations of a risk of harm caused by abuse or neglect is against a person in their home” as follows.

  • To emphasise obligations to provide support to tamariki in culturally appropriate ways and the appropriate use of tikanga at particular decision-making points, especially when decisions might be to place a child elsewhere.
  • To recognise the significance of the maintenance of whakapapa connections and the ability for whanaungatanga responsibilities to continue to be exercised during the process of managing the allegation.
  • To recognise the impact of allegations of abuse or neglect (whether founded or not) through the cultural lens of a violation of tapu14 and promote tikanga and restorative responses.

__________

11. Refers to the General Manager Māori.
12. Kaitiaki is a guardian.
13. Oranga Tamariki Practice Centre – https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/care/caregivers/allegations-against-caregivers/working-with-tamariki-and-rangatahi-when-allegations-of-abuse-neglect-or-harm-are-made-against-their-caregiver
14. From the Oranga Tamariki Practice Centre – “tapu of te tamaiti or rangatahi (the personal sacredness of te tamaiti or rangatahi)”.

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