Risk & # 39; s children have to wait months for results of investigations into abuse and neglect, according to family law lawyers.
When a judge orders a section 132 report (which pays attention to care and protection issues involving a child, including the results of investigations into abuse or neglect), Oranga Tamariki is legally obliged to say within 7 days which action want to do business and submit the report. within 28 days.
According to lawyers, families in some regions have been left in the dark for months.
A man from Lower Hutt who had to fight for three years to get custody of his daughter – despite the fact that the local Childhood and Family Office (CYF) received numerous reports of drug abuse and violence in her mother's house – said he did not believed had changed at the local office except the name – Oranga Tamariki.
The father, who can not be called to protect the privacy of his child, despite internal and external reviews of his case, ordered by the former Minister of Social Development Anne Tolley, said the same staff still the same work.
He filed a petition in 395 signatures with the parliament a year ago, calling for an independent investigation into Hutt's office in the agency and cases where "persecution by social workers was claimed".
"Before I personally went through it, I looked at people who had gone through hell with CYF and thought: there must be a reason why, certainly, this does not happen to innocent people." But after I have gone through it myself. , it is so easy to understand. "
He first raised his concerns about the welfare of his daughter with CYF in 2013, but then she was exposed to further drug use and violence, including witnessing her mother who had been raped on the knife and on another occasion from a car was thrown.
The child, now five, has been in full-time custody since 2016.
"How many children are we willing to lose in New Zealand before someone is willing to step in and do something about it?"
Information released to RNZ according to the official information law has been published three times this year.
Lawyer Chris Nicholls of Family Law said he had things that had been waiting six months for intervention.
He said he heard that in a recent count 100 cases of suspected abuse in the Hutt Valley had not been assigned to a social worker.
RNZ understands that in Kaitaia six months are currently waiting to convene family group conferences and that there are long waiting times for Northland regarding section 132 health and safety reports.
Law Society's family law section chair Kirsty Swadling said there were anecdotal reports of long waits for family group conferences from around the country, including South Auckland, Wairarapa and Northland.
"You can have a child who has been withdrawn from his or her family without notice and until that FGC (family group conference) is held, nothing else happens.
"So it means that the child and the parents stay in the dark for far too long."
Lawyer in Auckland, Gareth Bodle, said his local Oranga Tamariki (OT) office was extremely professional and responsive – but that was not always the case.
"There are some OT sites across the country that are really well managed and when they say they are going to do something, it is done, other sites are just terrible."
That caused enormous fear for families, he said.
Child Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft said that the long waiting times were "totally unacceptable".
"No one is happy with the situation."
However, it would be at least a five-year project to build Oranga Tamariki.
The design and development of the work at national level was impressive and those responsible were determined to make it better, he said.
But for its implementation, some challenging questions about resourcing and the competence and competence of frontline employees & # 39; needed.
Oranga Tamariki vice president Alison McDonald said the ministry took all concerns "very seriously".
"We always do our best to encourage whānau involvement in choosing a time and place for the conference."
Oranga Tamariki was also determined to meet the court timetable for completing all section 132 reports, she said.
In the past 12 months, it had recruited 340 additional social workers and introduced a number of new roles.
"We have come a long way, but we know that there is still a lot of work to be done," said McDonald.