Larger Māori role sought in the care for at-risk youths

The child commissioner wants to phase out housing units for juvenile justice cases and place young people at high risk in community homes.

In the juvenile court house, Te Au rere a in Tonga, in Palmerston North.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Child Commissioner Andrew Becroft today published a report outlining his vision of the state-care system to be revised and redesigned with a Kaupapa Māori approach.

Two thirds of the 6300 children and young people in state care are Māori and the former Judge of the Youth Court said they should have specially designed services for them.

He wanted to embrace a vision outlined in the 1989 Oranga Tamariki law for dealing with young Māori, which he said was never fully realized.

Judge Becroft said he wanted to move away from institutional residences and to care for the children and community housing that could be run in collaboration with Māori organizations.

"The evidence is clear that in most cases young people who would have been offended should be placed back in their own community, with plans to support them and their families for change.

"We recognize, however, that a much reduced provision of residential care will probably always be necessary in juvenile justice."

Judge Becroft said that this could take away the possibility of keeping young people in police cells by the Juvenile Court.

The commissioner told it Morning report Care and protection residences housed children who behaved in such a way that it meant that they were difficult to manage, which in his view was counterproductive and that the institutions had to be closed.

"What we are saying is that the degree of expert care can not be compromised, but it does not have to be in an aggregated situation where those children are grouped together," he said.

"Behavior there has been strengthened and intervention is more difficult.

"Houses of two, three or four children in the communities are likely to cost more in the short term, but in the long run this will yield much better results and save the community and ensure that every child has the most productive opportunities available to them . "

He said that the larger care and protection residences must be closed in case of emergency and that this can be achieved "very quickly".

"Our plea for Oranga Tamariki is to redouble efforts and do everything possible to leave that form of institutionalized care, just as we did with orphanages, which are now a relic of the past. can transfer to history. "

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