This weeks news of inappropriate sexual behaviour within Oranga Tamariki Youth detention centres, although shocking, damming and a national disgrace, comes as no surprise.

Previously Oranga Tamariki has already handled 19 claims relating to abuse which were left to be investigated internally so the victims would not have to engage with another agency.

I find it disturbing the government department, that the claims were raised within, was left to investigate these allegations.

The Minister, Kelvin Davis, while he was in opposition, knew there were serious issues within Oranga Tamariki and five years later, more serious claims surfacing, and a commission of enquiry is still not completed.

Appointing ex Police Commissioner Mike Bush to head the investigation, highlights serious concerns as well. What needs to happen is an independent enquiry undertaken by a KC from Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom, someone who is truly independent and not linked to any of the so-called old boys’ clubs.

Here we have a government disposing of the Childrens Commissioner’s office when the commissioner is exactly the person that raised the alarm saying herself “youth detention centres are prison like and under resourced also highlighting sexual misconduct wasn’t the only concern she had about these facilities, also saying “in my view, you wouldn’t ever put a child in a place that looks like.”

I ask everyone “why are we still villainising our Tamariki and calling for them to be further institutionalised, criminalised, punished and now abused and sexually violated.

Jackie Foster
Social Justice Aotearoa

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