Oranga Tamariki launches new monitoring system

Oranga Tamariki, the government department in New Zealand responsible for the wellbeing of children, is rolling out a new monitoring system as new research into youth highlights the need for systemic change. 

It's hoped the new monitoring system will allow the Government to tailor policies to protect them. Oranga Tamariki chief executive Grainne Moss says the Ministry is confident people - both adults and children - will speak up.

"We are finding children coming forward and we're seeing them regularly. The other thing is that caregivers know that if they are struggling to keep a child safe then we will support them when they come forward," she told Newshub. 

Ms Moss says the changes are pivotal: "What we've got is a consistent and systematic way of dealing with it, so that does mean we will be responding to all the concerns for children in care and in a more consistent and immediate fashion than we did."

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft spoke about the new monitoring system to Duncan Garner on The AM Show Wednesday morning, saying it is "clearly going to contribute to our overall vision that no children in care are abused or neglected."

"Real-time means it'll be immediately reported to a central agency. We'll know as soon as the information comes in… what's going on and what's happening."

"This is Oranga Tamariki going on to the front foot saying we need better and more robust stats and we need to do something about it. And I hope those stats will drive excellent practice. We need to do better for children in care and this should help."

There will be new innovations, he explained, including an advocacy service for all children in care, which will allow every child to log a complaint. But more importantly, he adds, more social workers are needed who are "attuned to the sorts of hints children will drop".

Worrying survey

The Ministry's new reporting system comes amid calls by youth campaign groups ActionStation and Ara Taiohi to put the wellbeing of young people first. 

A survey by ActionStation and Ara Taiohi has unearthed a range of concerns, says Laura O'Connell Rapira, director of ActionStation, including around the environment, education, body image, economic security and affordable housing. 

"One of the quotes that stuck out in my mind was a 12-year-old who said, 'I'm worried about our survival because of climate change'," Ms Rapira told Newshub. 

ActionStation gathered the views of more than 1000 young people aged 12-24 on youth wellbeing. 

The research was commissioned by Ara Taiohi, and chief executive Jane Zintl said the aim is to encourage decision-makers to engage with young people in the "redesign of our communities, democracy, and economy in ways that support New Zealanders' wellbeing".

The research found that young people want better access to mental health services and education and support. Young people also highlighted concerns about economic security, unaffordable housing, student debt and want to secure meaningful work. 

New Zealand's young people want to see an end to racism, sexism, and racism according to the research. They are also worried that not enough is being done to protect the environment.  

Ms Zintl praised the Government for plans to develop a Child Wellbeing Strategy to make New Zealand the "best place in the world to be a child". 

But she said while this is admirable and an "excellent goal", the researchers want to gain an understanding of what it would look like for New Zealand to be the best place to live for all. 

"Through this research we aim to help answer at least part of that question by asking our young people about what wellbeing looks like, and how those in power can help support young people to flourish," said Ms Rapira.