“The salaries for senior staff at Oranga Tamariki have increased by 55 per cent in the past five years but we’re not seeing improved results for children in need,” says ACT’s Children spokesperson Karen Chhour.

“Written Parliamentary Questions from Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis show that salaries for senior staff have increased from $11.84m to $17.50m in five years, with an average salary of $208,000. The number of employees defined as senior leaders has increased from 54 to 84.

“Nothing sums up the Wellington bureaucracy better than the contrast between frontline staff and senior bureaucrats at Oranga Tamariki. Community social workers had to threaten strike action this year to get pay equity, while at the same time the money being spent on senior leaders’ salaries was increasing dramatically.

“The priorities are all wrong at Oranga Tamariki, the increase in senior leaders and salaries has not translated to better care. 67 children and young people known to Oranga Tamariki have died in the last five years alone.

“Yesterday another damning report into Oranga Tamariki was released. Last week it was revealed that abuse complainants had been left waiting for two years with no resolution to their complaints, while it has also been reported the designated helpline is often left unattended. The phone is literally off the hook between Oranga Tamariki and at-risk youth.

“Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis needs to take charge of the department, demand accountability and get it back on track.

“New Zealand needs real change and that should start with government departments focussing on their core roles and showing restraint when it comes to spending other people’s money.

“Oranga Tamariki needs to be serving our most vulnerable children and giving them the best chance in life. There’s no more time for excuses and apologies, they need to start delivering.”

WPQs can be found here and here

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Karen Chhour