18 Apr 2024

Oranga Tamariki job cuts: 'We can't establish what their endgame is'

9:20 am on 18 April 2024
Oranga Tamariki

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Oranga Tamariki has failed to explain how hundreds of job cuts will achieve a better outcome for children, says a children's advocate.

Almost 450 jobs are set to be cut at the ministry as part of the governments cost cuts.

The losses make up about 9 percent of Oranga Tamariki's workforce.

In a slide shown to staff, one of the key proposed changes included "embedding the work of enabling communities".

VOYCE Whakarongo Mai chief executive Tracie Shipton said she was struggling to understand how children and their families will be better off.

"What we can see is that they're taking out a layer of the organisation and they're pruning back to meet with government cuts, but what we can't establish is what their endgame is.

"When you talk about enabling communities and devolution to community, you'd have to involve that community in that discussion and that's not what we see happening," Shipton said.

Shipton said although its presentation slides talked about enabling communities, none of this was happening.

Oranga Tamariki chief executive Chappie Te Kani said yesterday that front-line staff were exempt from the changes.

"This change goes to our core as a ministry. It fundamentally moves us away from where we are, towards the kind of ministry we need to be," Te Kani said.

He also said the changes will create clear lines of accountability, simplify the structure and enable faster decision making.

But Shipton said the proposal was unclear and did not provide any purpose.

"What is the ministry they're meant to be? If you're actually transforming a ministry, we should know what you're transforming it into. We should know, and young people in care and their families should know what you're trying to achieve. Telling us you're going to achieve it without telling us what it is, is a difficult thing," Shipton said.

Veteran Māori health advocate Lady Tureiti Moxon also criticised Oranga Tamariki's proposed re-structural, saying it made no sense, and describing it as "higgledy-piggledy".

"If you have a look at this proposed structure change, it's almost like it's secret squirrel stuff and they're saying a lot without saying anything. It's just a whole lot of words that somebody obviously knows what it means but doesn't mean a lot to anybody else," Lady Tureiti said.

Lady Tureiti said she's in favour of simplifying the structure but Māori have to be part of the changes.

The ministry is also disestablishing the Treaty Response Unit and shifting current responsibilities to other areas.

"Māori get pushed back into oblivion as if we don't matter, we don't count and our views are irrelevant, Te Tiriti O Waitangi is there as a covenant of the foundation document of our country. And what they're going is they're invisibilising and saying it doesn't matter anymore. Well, it matters, it's always mattered," Lady Tureiti said.