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Children's Commissioner calls on Kiwis to work together to stop children being sent into state care

The Children’s Commissioner is calling on New Zealanders to work together to stop children being sent into state care.

Judge Andrew Becroft's comments today come after Oranga Tamariki yesterday launched an investigation into an attempted uplift of a newborn baby from its mother in Hawke's Bay.

The number of uplifts of Māori children increased from two to three per week to "three a week in the last three to four years," Judge  Becroft told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

"Numbers of Māori in state care overall have continued to increase, while for Pāhekā has come down," Judge Becroft said.

"What I want to know is that the practices, the policies, the processes are fit for purpose, and are actually reflecting the legislative dream, and the legislative vision – which is pretty clear, and that’s early intervention, a lot of assistance, community groups who young families trust with state involvement, prevention at all cost."

"It's really a transforming of the old, broken Child, Youth and Family from a reactive ambulance at the 'bottom of the cliff' SOS service, to one that is prevention-focused and assistance-focused.

"We're talking about a revolution - nothing short of a revolution is required."

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Minister of Children, Tracey Martin, made the announcement today after the incident last month. Source: 1 NEWS

Judge Becroft called Māori over-representation in the criminal justice system "a system-wide challenge for New Zealand" and "one of the most profound that we face."

He said three things are very clear in how to resolve the crisis, including "much earlier identification and involvement", "to work with whānau and wider family" and "to engage iwi, to engage hapū in a way that we haven't done before."

"Iwi and hapū are up for that. That is the very clear message that is being received."

"It's giving a practicality so that the state works with people in the community who family trust, who family know, because state intervention is one of the most coersive powers that we can exercise as a community. It has to be done with community support, working with whānau and family, and iwi are saying very clearly, 'We want to be involved.'

"Iwi up and down the country are saying, 'No more of our children in state care from now on.' I do think people are up for this revolution."

Judge Becroft said in order to get it right, the Government must work closely with iwi and Māori organisations.

"Iwi by iwi and Māori organisation by Māori organisation – the Government has to work with all of them - clear understandings in place, resources provided for. It's already started in the sense that family group conferences, which is the engine room of decision-making, in some parts of New Zealand, are being run by iwi and iwi-delegated, trained coordinators. That's a very good start."

"Professional intervention divorced from the community is never going to work."

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Judge Andrew Becroft’s office has conducted a review into the Government agency. Source: Breakfast