14 Nov 2020

Former minister for children Tracey Martin takes aim at Oranga Tamariki social workers

10:54 am on 14 November 2020

Former minister for children Tracey Martin says the current calibre of social workers at Oranga Tamariki is not good enough.

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Former minister for children Tracey Martin. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

Martin made the comments in reflection of last year's controversial video of Oranga Tamariki workers attempting to uplift a newborn baby from its mother at Hawke's Bay Hospital's maternity unit.

She said the video highlighted that there is both really good social worker practice and really lousy social worker practice in this country.

"We've got 16 providers, there's a huge variation of the way that our social workers are trained and the calibre of many of our social workers is not good enough and I'll tell you what, you'll hear people scream now that I've said that out loud," she said.

Martin said nobody in the current government had responsibility for social worker training, but it needed to be addressed.

The reason why the government did not have any influence over social worker training was because it was actually the responsibility of the social worker registration board to set the standards by which they would register social workers, she said.

"The problem is, it's 100 percent funded by social workers, it's had this legislation put on them, they have no resourcing for policy development, or even to influence and set those standards.

"So this government, if I was making one recommendation, is give a minister responsibility to argue for a budget bid for a time limited resource for the social worker registration board to create the policy and the standards that we're going to hold all social workers in this country."

She said she held the delegation for social worker training as the associate minister for education, but was not able to make progress.

"I tried to have conversations with TEC (Tertiary Education Commission), found that particularly difficult and it took three years to realise that why I was meeting those barriers was because the tool was actually over here with the social worker registration board."

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