The brave new world of Oranga Tamariki

‘Stand up and you stand alone'

Last week Newsroom revealed details around Oranga Tamariki CEO Grainne Moss’ sudden exit from her previous role at Bupa and asked how, within months of receiving a payout, she had managed to secure a top job in the public service.

Influential Māori leaders have been calling for her resignation for more than a year, with the heat turned up again this month after the release of the Children’s Commissioner report into the agency’s uplift practices.

In the second part of this investigation we talk to current and former staff from Oranga Tamariki who share serious concerns over a culture in the government agency that they say can put tamariki at risk. Melanie Reid, Cass Mason and Bonnie Sumner report.

Imagine an eight-year-old girl, alone in a teenage residential home, clutching her only two possessions - an old doll and a framed picture of Dora the Explorer.

The other members of the house are all much older than her - several tough teenage girls, many living with mental health challenges due to their own histories of abuse and neglect. They deface her Dora poster and throw her doll into a tree.

The girl is scared and lonely and she cries and cries.

Now imagine you’re a new social worker at Oranga Tamariki, one with 13 years of extensive professional expertise and experience in child and adolescent mental health, trauma and abuse, who has been drawn to the rebranded child welfare agency and its promise of a vision for helping Aotearoa’s tamariki.

The social worker knows there is no way the eight-year-old should be placed there and when she raises this with her supervisor, she simply replies: “I’m sick of hearing about that kid and all her crying.” The girl is left in the home.

“This was a financial decision made over the wellbeing of the child. The child could easily have been taken to a motel with a relieving caregiver until a placement could be found,” the social worker tells Newsroom.

She gets another case, one where she is asked by the supervisor to complete a caregiver assessment so a girl can be returned to the care of a family.

But one of those caregivers had only a year earlier been convicted and jailed for pointing a loaded gun at that child’s head and repeatedly beating her with an implement.

The social worker completes a complex assessment and recommends the application be declined.

Link to full article: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/the-brave-new-world-of-oranga-tamariki


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