ACT, Greens slams Government's Oranga Tamariki Oversight Bill says it's "insulting", young Kiwis have been 'let down'

ACT has slammed the Government's Oranga Tamariki Oversight Bill saying "it's easy to raise confident, happy children, but it's really hard to fix broken adults".  

The Bill proposes the disestablishment of the Children’s Commissioner and would put in place an independent monitor of Oranga Tamariki. 

It comes after a new report released on Tuesday morning on the Government's proposed changes to Oranga Tamariki found it risks creating a "vicious cycle" of increasing harm to children and young people. 

The report said establishing an "Independent Monitor of Oranga Tamariki" as a government department won't be independent enough from politicians.

The report suggests the complaints function should sit with the Children's Commissioner, along with the monitoring and advocacy roles where no abuse could be "swept under the carpet".

ACT Children's Spokesperson Karen Chhour opposes the bill and told AM on Tuesday it'll stop children from coming forward. 

"I can tell you from experience, dealing with child, youth and family growing up, the worst thing you can do as an organisation is losing trust in the youth because to come forward takes huge courage and why would you come forward if you don't trust the system," Chhour told AM co-host Ryan Bridge. 

"I think 90 percent of what's going to make this system work is trust and all this bill is going to do is destroy the trust that our youth have currently with the Children's Commissioner." 

Child Youth and Family was dissolved in 2017 and replaced by Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children. 

Growing up, Chhour dealt with child youth and family and said she "survived not because of the system but in spite of the system". 

"That's the whole reason I came to Parliament, right … and I 100 percent every day realise how lucky I am to be standing where I am today, trying to advocate for the next generation so they don't go through what I went through," an emotional Chhour told AM. 

"These things last, they stick with us. When we're let down as youth, that doesn't just go away overnight. It's easy to raise, a confident, happy child, but it's really hard to fix a broken adult and we see this in every area of society. 

"If you don't think it affects you, of course it does. It affects education, it affects crime, it affects every area of our lives growing up and if we get it wrong at the beginning, as sure as heck hard to fix it in the end."

Green Party spokesperson for Children Jan Logie, who appeared alongside Chhour on AM, said the public concern is widespread, and she's calling on the Government to listen to the experts. 

"It doesn't make sense to me and frankly, I don't care, they just need to listen and do what's best for our kids," she said. 

"The evidence is there, the public concern is widespread. We had a report just a couple of weeks ago that told us this is in breach of Te Tiriti and the UN Convention on the Rights of indigenous people in form as well as in process. 

"They've just got to stop and go back and start building the relationships with Māori, with our child rights advocacy groups, and most importantly, with the kids in care, and work this out together to ensure the safety of our children, because we know that there are actually increasing reports of harm within Oranga Tamariki. So this is not something to take lightly." 

Watch the full interview with Karen Chhour and Jan Logie above.