8 May 2023

Oranga Tamariki cuts funding for 130 trusts working with youth

From Checkpoint, 5:19 pm on 8 May 2023

A Christchurch trust working with at-risk youth says it is a "real shame" Oranga Tamariki has cut its funding.

Youth Alive Trust is one of more than 130 affected by the cuts.

The programme has been around for more than three decades and runs holiday programmes for young people from low income families - who might otherwise miss out.

Youth Alive Trust manager James Ridpath said in the 10 years it had received government funding, 2000 young people had taken part in its programmes.

But Ridpath said Oranga Tamariki was redirecting its focus to work with the most high needs rangatahi instead of helping prevent people who may be heading in that direction with early intervention.

Ridpath said Youth Alive was about helping youth connect with each other, show them new experiences and teach them new hobbies.

"Really, keep them off the streets. Give them something proactive to do, something physical to do."

He did not claim the organisation was "the answer" but said its workers were one part of the village it took to raise a child.

"I realise Oranga Tamariki's hands are tied, they've got a new direction and head office made these decisions but it is a shame for ... the other 130 organisations who have lost that funding."

Ridpath said he did not believe Youth Alive fitted into Oranga Tamariki's new model as there was no referral system for those who took part in its programmes.

"Some are high needs and some of them have been involved in these ram raids and involved in crime but some of them are not high needs and are not at risk.

"If you put all the young people with high needs together, sometimes that can cause more trouble."

In a statement to Checkpoint, Oranga Tamariki deputy chief executive Māori Partnerships and Communities Darrin Haimona said it was currently going through a transformational change as it works toward the new strategic direction.

That change included transferring funding and decision-making to Māori and communities so they can help children and their families in ways they know will work. 

As part of that and following consultation and feedback, changes were made to the funding of 132 providers, involving around $5 million in the 2022/23 year. 

Oranga Tamariki provided around $500m in funding annually to 600 non-government organisations, strategic partners and communities.