“If we’re to create a better future for vulnerable children, we need greater leadership from the Minister for Children who is not across the issue,” says ACT’s Social Development spokesperson Karen Chhour.

“When asked in Parliament what lessons he has learnt from the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care to date, he couldn’t list a single point, instead just saying “we’re on the right track”.

“But we’re not on the right track. Recently a boy was abused by his father and stepmother and yet Oranga Tamariki returned him to his abusers six months later, where he was almost beaten to death. How can we have any faith in an organisation that returns children to their known abusers?

“Davis’ glib response is offensive to survivors who already feel like the Government doesn’t want to listen to them following the Oranga Tamariki Oversight Bill process.

“What’s even more disappointing is that for the past two weeks there has been a public hearing with the Royal Commission highlighting many of the lessons we need to learn. Top of the list was to start listening to the experiences of survivors, tamariki and whānau. Something Labour still can’t get its head around.

“Instead Labour’s actions have been to pass a flawed bill that advocacy groups and survivors begged them to not proceed with out of fears it would make the system worse.

"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?

“Minister Davis failed to adequately answer how many children within New Zealand have been killed or hospitalized by abusers in recent years. If the Minister does not know, how can he possibly be satisfied that its processes are sufficiently identifying vulnerable kids?

“Something needs to change, but it can’t be change for changes sake or we will be repeating the same mistakes of the past.

“To fix Oranga Tamariki the Government first needs to start listening and taking on board the Royal Commission’s findings. And it should adopt my Member’s Bill that says Oranga Tamariki 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.”

More from

Karen Chhour