A new report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner is calling for a change of the current state care system for at-risk young people.

The report Maiea Te Tūruapō, Fulfilling the Vision argues for the phased-out closure of the current care and protection residences as part of a shift towards a kaupapa Māori driven approach.

In an interview on TVNZ’s Breakfast, Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft says he wants to see smaller community homes based in the regions set up ‘close to young people’s homes and families’.

Oranga Tamariki’s Hoani Jeremy Lambert says that around two-thirds of young people in state care are Māori, so the system needs to change to be inclusive of Māori culture and identity.

“It's very important that we are supporting their connection to their whānau, hapū and iwi, and, also to their identity.”

But Paora Moyle, a social worker of over two decades of experience and who was raised in the state care system, says there’s nothing new in the report, and that while it sounds good, implementing it is another matter.

“You can ‘whanau’ and ‘hapū’ and ‘iwi’ til the cows come home, that doesn't make the legislation drive practice, it's people who drive the practice, it’s people who make the decisions, the considerations.

“And when you only have to consider a child to be placed with whānau, hapū, and iwi, and you’ve got the majority of social workers who do not know how to chase or investigate the whakapapa or links of the child who are largely Māori, then I come back to, you can say it to the nth degree, but it doesn’t mean that [for] those children – the outcomes are going to be any better.”

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