“Labour’s determination to pass their broken Oranga Tamariki Oversight Bill, despite enormous opposition from those who it affects most, is a disappointing outcome for the vulnerable children who should be at the centre of this law-making process,” says ACT’s Social Development spokesperson Karen Chhour.

“ACT, alongside all other political parties and numerous advocacy groups, called on the Government to stop this bill and start again. When Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni refused we proposed five amendments that would improve it, so it wouldn’t cause more damage to vulnerable young peoples’ lives. Only one of them was accepted by the Minister.

“Unlike Sepuloni, ACT has engaged and consulted with care-experienced youth.

“Reports have described the bill as creating a "vicious cycle" of increasing harm to children and young people.

"I can tell you from my experience in dealing with child, youth and family growing up, the worst thing you can do as an organisation is lose the trust of our youth, because to come forward takes huge courage and why would you come forward if you don't trust the system?

“This bill is an example of why I came to Parliament, to stop Wellington bureaucrats making the same mistakes of the past. Sadly, Labour has refused to listen.

“We need real change to make a difference for the next generation, not the token lip service coming from this Government.

“I have a Member’s Bill that says OT and its governing principles should be colour-blind, utterly child-centric, and open to whatever solution will ensure a child’s wellbeing. My bill would ensure this happens, placing more value on the best interests of the child rather than their nationality.

“ACT has stood alongside vulnerable New Zealanders in fierce opposition to Labour’s bill. The Government had a chance to listen to those at risk but refused. Unlike this Government, ACT will take on board the Royal Commission’s findings and the feedback of those with lived experience, ensuring a better system for the children who need our support.”

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Karen Chhour