Children’s Commissioner Judge Frances Eivers welcomes the investigation launched by Oranga Tamariki in the wake of two separate Police investigations.
“I’m extremely disappointed to learn that – yet again – harm has come to mokopuna in the care of the state.
“The events under investigation at a Youth Justice facility came to light through an unannounced monitoring visit from my Office.
“I acknowledge however that when alerted, Oranga Tamariki’s response was decisive. It was a weight off my mind when I was advised that immediate action had been taken and that the NZ Police were involved.
“Over the years, so many concerns the Office has raised regarding the residences have remained unaddressed, including our concerns about the Care and Protection Residence involved.
“In my view the recent events are an outcome of the residences not receiving the focus, oversight, or resourcing that mokopuna deserve.
”I truly hope that the only positive outcome from the highly distressing events of recent days is that guided by the findings of the independent investigation Oranga Tamariki revisits the issues apparent within residences, and take action, with specific timeframes and measurables, to address the problems that have been long apparent.
“The safety of our mokopuna is paramount. Something has to change to ensure that mokopuna in the care of the state are safe, and not further harmed by the system tasked with caring for them.
“I have been clear that the current residential care system is not therapeutic, or rehabilitative. At the core of the new investigation is the fact that residences are not even safe. I believe the residences need to be shut down and replaced with a system that’s fit for purpose.
“My Office is committed to working with Oranga Tamariki and the independent investigation team to ensure they are aware of what we view to be the compounding issues across the residences that have been repeatedly seen in the Office’s monitoring reports over time.”