20 May 2024

Oranga Tamariki proposal to cut critical records unit 'incredibly disrespectful' - advocate

1:26 pm on 20 May 2024
Oranga Tamariki

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

An advocacy group for children in the care system says there has been no consultation amid Oranga Tamarik's proposal to wipe out a unit that looks after critical records.

The proposal is part of the government's public sector cuts.

Lisa McLaren from VOYCE - Whakarongo Mai told Midday Report the lack of consultation was very disrespectful.

"These files are our life story, our whakapapa," she said.

"These are the stories of us being cared for by Oranga Tamariki or Child, Youth and Family."

McLaren said the proposal to cut the unit responsible for critical records was unacceptable.

"When you're looking at making cuts I would say to suggest that information management is something that we can simply do away with is just incredibly disrespectful, and no matter how old we are we should be able to expect that our case files, our life stories are protected and accessible," she said.

"And when we think about people who have been in care trying to put the pieces of their life together, it's simply unacceptable.

"Even any funding cuts, personally, are outrageous to me in any part of the child ministry.

"For a system that desperately needs help, any budget cuts to me are outrageous but especially in record-keeping."

Oranga Tamariki is looking to disestablish 447 jobs next month, or nine percent of staff, and must find 6.5 percent in savings from July.

Chief executive Chappie Te Kani has proposed disestablishing the position of manager information management, as well as the positions reporting to that person.

Chappie Te Kani

Oranga Tamariki chief executive Chappie Te Kani. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

That includes the six record-keeping jobs.

The restructure would shift records management to a new unit, with new business integration leads taking responsibility for it.

Survivor Keith Wiffin said Oranga Tamariki had not consulted with any survivors of abuse in state care before the proposal either.

"It will be distressing to hear that to survivors because records, and the safety of them, are extremely important to them," he said.

"They are quite often incomplete and flawed, but they are validation for survivors, so any downgrading in terms of their safety and protection will be an insult to survivors."

That being done without any consultation with survivors, as far as he was aware, was "really disappointing".

"It is extremely important to survivors that they have those records looked after, and it is also part of the country's social history - a very big part of.

"They are a taonga."

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