Second care reform Bill passes third reading

  • Anne Tolley

The second stage of major reform to New Zealand’s care and protection system reached a key milestone today with the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Bill passing its third reading, says Minister for Children Anne Tolley.

“I am proud to see the passing of this critical legislation which will provide the foundations for a child-centred care and protection system,” says Mrs Tolley.

“The Bill has benefitted from strong engagement from the public, iwi, and organisations. I want to particularly thank all the young people who have shared their stories and contributed to this legislation.

“This is the second significant step in our major reform programme which will improve the outcomes for vulnerable children and young people. It is part of our four to five year major transformation programme.

“It supports the new operating model of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki which is focused on harm and trauma prevention, early intervention, quality care, and support to independence.

“The changes we have achieved through the passing of this legislation will ensure that vulnerable children and young people have the best chance to have safe, stable and loving homes which will help them to grow into successful independent adults.”

The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 will be renamed the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, with an accompanying title of the Children’s and Young People’s Well-being Act 1989.

A small number of amendments will take effect following Royal Assent, while the majority will come into force by 1 July 2019.

The legislation:

  • changes the purposes and principles of the Act to better ensure children and young people are at the centre of decision-making, while considering them within the context of their family, whānau, hapū, iwi, and communities.
  • allows young people in care to remain or return to living with a caregiver until the age of 21, with transition support available up to age 25.
  • strengthens information sharing provisions to help keep vulnerable children and young people safe from harm or make arrangements for their well-being.
  • extends the youth justice system to include most 17 year olds (excluding those charged with specified serious offences).
  • enhances the complaints processes.

Budget 2017 invests an extra $434.1 million to support the Ministry’s transformation to the new operating model and to meet cost pressures.