This report considers the statutory response to children aged 10 to 13 years whose offending causes serious concern for their wellbeing. This has led Police to refer them to an Oranga Tamariki Youth Justice Coordinator for a Family Group Conference (FGC) in accordance with section 14 (1) (e) of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 (the Act). To gather the evidence to inform this thematic review, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) undertook 93 interviews with individuals or groups – in eight locations across Aotearoa/New Zealand. The purpose of the interviews was to assess what was working well to support positive changes; and to understand what gets in the way.
- Police, Oranga Tamariki, Health, Education, community agencies and iwi explained that the system is complex and often poorly understood
- There is a lack of consistent and effective collaboration and partnership within Oranga Tamariki between their Services for Children and Families, and their Youth Justice Service divisions
- Strong and effective collaboration is lacking between the government and community agencies involved
- Initial early intervention which takes into account the challenges faced by many of the families and whānau of children with offending behaviour, is too often missing
- Children with offending behaviour are frequently disengaged from education, and there can be significant difficulties in re-engaging them
- Most children in this cohort are Māori and many key stakeholders we interviewed, including whānau, told us that culturally focussed responses have been poor
- There is a need for strategic leadership that focuses on improving those parts of the child offender process that currently are not responding well to the needs of children and whānau.