With more than 300,000 children living in poverty in New Zealand, an increase of 45,000 since 2015, the country’s government has chosen to replace its Child Youth Family system (CYF) with the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki. The new ministry will begin operating by April 2017. It will aim to address the well-being of vulnerable children and help ease their transition into adulthood.
According to the UNICEF country executive director, New Zealanders have developed a lack of empathy for the country’s most vulnerable individuals, and child poverty has become a pattern in the island nation of 4.5 million.
The new ministry was named to reflect the fact that six out of 10 children in state care are Maori, aboriginal New Zealanders. According to children’s commissioner and judge Andrew Becroft, the new ministry’s Maori name represents the most vulnerable 20 percent of New Zealand’s children.
According to Social Development Minister Anne Tolley, “The new ministry, new name and completely new operating model reflects our determination to remain absolutely focused on the individual needs of each child.” Tolley said the new ministry will be responsible for child care and protection, youth justice services and community investments associated with vulnerable children.
Oranga Tamariki has received an initial primary investment of $200 million in New Zealand’s 2016 budget. The ministry has five focal points aimed at prevention, intensive intervention, care support services, transition support and a youth service dedicated to restricting reoffenses and providing trauma counselling for beneficiaries.
On September 13, State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes announced the appointment of Gráinne Moss as establishment chief executive of Oranga Tamariki. Moss is expected to serve a five-year term as chief executive once the ministry is fully established on April 1, 2017.
New Zealand’s treatment and protection of children is scheduled to come under review, with its five-year U.N. scorecard due.
– Shanique Wright