Revealed: Violence in Oranga Tamariki care and protection residences increasing

Newshub can reveal violence in Oranga Tamariki care and protection residences is increasing.

The number of times children assaulted each other or staff in the past financial year is almost 10 times the amount in 2017.

A young girl who Newshub spoke with had a tough experience.

"I've never felt safe in Oranga Tamariki's care."

That's because one day she was attacked by an older girl in a place she called home.

"She grabbed like this bench table and she like, it was pretty much, she swung it like it was a bat and she like swung it to my jaw and when she did that my brackets fell out of my mouth from my braces." 

She says staff were with her in the room, but couldn't stop it.

"It kind of stuffed my jaw up because I need jaw surgery now."

Something no parent wants to hear.

"Disgusted but also not surprised," the girl's dad told Newshub. 

"They are totally disorganised, that's probably the nicest thing I could say about them. They've got no idea what's going on even within their own residential units".

Documents show in the most recent financial year there were 56 assaults recorded in the four care and protection residences - 9 times the amount in 2017.

Out of the 180 total assaults since then, 75 percent are tamariki using violence on staff.

"These types of large concrete jail-like residences, care and protection residences are not therapeutic, they need to go", says Assistant Māori Commissioner for Children Glenis Philip-Barbara.

Christchurch's Te Oranga facility has had the most violence. It temporarily shut down earlier this year after it was revealed staff used physical force to restrain a youth.

A review was subsequently initiated into all residences.

Children's Minister Kelvin Davis said in a statement the review found no systemic concerns but recommendations were made about how to reduce the risk of violence.

"I also asked the Ministerial Advisory Board to visit all Care and Protection and Youth Justice facilities across the country to ensure young people were being cared for appropriately and supported. They too made a series of recommendations to improve monitoring, which have been accepted by Oranga Tamariki and I am confident these will be implemented shortly."

Oranga Tamariki says "it follows an internal princess in a case of an assault". 

"The health and safety of the tamariki and staff are assessed as a priority."

Work is also progressing to replace Oranga Tamariki's facilities with 10 specialist group homes.

"We need to be recruiting people who are experts in connecting with these kids and we need to be meeting those mental health needs," Philip-Barbara says.

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