29 March 2022  Media Releases

Distressing report shows major work needed to ensure our children are safe

Today’s release of the Oranga Tamariki Safety of Children in Care Report showing our mokopuna, our children are suffering an increase in abuse in state care is sad and distressing, says Judge Frances Eivers, Children’s Commissioner.

“The statistics in the report showing an increase of harm against our mokopuna, our babies, children and teenagers in Oranga Tamariki care is an indictment on the system of care. At a time when the state needs to be improving the outcomes for our young people, we as a country are moving backwards.

“Behind every statistic is a mokopuna, a child being harmed or hurt and a family, a whānau under stress, and that is shameful.

“I am especially concerned that physical harm has increased in the context of young people being physically restrained often where there is no mandate to use force and often the holds were applied incorrectly, and the young person was harmed as a result or when unlawful physical actions were used by the staff member.

“Under my powers as Commissioner, I will request Oranga Tamariki to report further on the degree of harm experienced by children. I look forward to this dialogue with Oranga Tamariki.

“This is an indictment on the systems and processes in our care facilities and indicates an urgent need for significant systemic improvement,” says Judge Eivers.

The report also identifies the seriousness of physical harm by parents towards mokopuna, children who have returned home, and shows no improvement on last year’s report.

Since taking up her appointment in November 2021, Judge Eivers has identified family violence as a key priority area. “The release of the report highlights just how crucial it is that this area, alongside education and mental wellbeing is a key focus area for me as Children’s Commissioner.

“I will be ensuring a laser like focus in my advocacy in this area.

“Our mokopuna, our children deserve better. The release of this report is the wake up call for us as a country to address this huge issue. The Abuse in Care Royal Commission is hearing the stories of mokopuna, children who have been harmed while in state care, and we need to take notice of what they say. Our aim must be for no child to be harmed.

“Aotearoa can and will do better, we owe it to our mokopuna and rangatahi to acknowledge this failing and act,” says Judge Eivers.