Te Hiringa Mahara to continue to advocate for young people after Oranga Tamariki Bill passes third reading

The Oversight of Oranga Tamariki System and Children and Young People’s Commission Bill, intended to strengthen the oversight of Oranga Tamariki and improve the care and support provided to young people in care, has passed its third reading in Parliament.

Te Hiringa Mahara – Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, as kaitiaki (guardian) of mental health and wellbeing, monitors the wellbeing outcomes of young people with experience of care now and will do so in the future. It will continue to advocate for their right to be heard and to influence decisions made about them, Board Chair Hayden Wano said.

“We have listened to the voices of communities, iwi, hapū, whānau and young people with experience of care who have contributed to the legislative process. We know there is compelling evidence of harm experienced by young people in care,” Mr Wano said.

“Young people who experience State care are a priority for us and in 2023 we will release insights about the collective voice of young people calling for better support of their mental health and wellbeing.

“This work will add weight to our belief that the voices and knowledge of young people should be central to the design of systems that determine their wellbeing, as we work towards long-term transformation of mental health, addiction and wellbeing systems in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

The numbers of young people involved are significant, he said. 

“There are 4,800 children and young people currently in the care and protection of Oranga Tamariki. Of those, 57 per cent are Māori, 11 per cent are both Māori and Pasifika and 6 per cent are Pasifika.

“An effective oversight system is needed that addresses the significant inequities and improves wellbeing for tamariki and rangatahi. We will be carefully monitoring the effectiveness of whatever oversight system is put in place as part of the drive for tangible improvements in the care and support that is provided to young people in State care.”