World

Oranga Tamariki badly mismanaged $60m sexual abuse programme, review finds

May 26, 2022 9:00 am

[Source: RNZ]

Changes to a $60 million programme to help sexually abused children have been badly mismanaged by Oranga Tamariki, an independent review has found.

A review released to RNZ shows its team doing the work to fill glaring gaps in services was so “dysfunctional”, “inadequate” and “confused” it had to be shut down.

But all this happened behind closed doors, the public was told everything was OK and even getting hold of the review was difficult.

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Oranga Tamariki was given the job in late 2019 of making big changes to two types of services for children, as part of a ten-agency government strategy to combat family and sexual violence – launched with fanfare publicly just last December.

The two types of service fund community providers, for either crisis support to, say, an abused child going through a court process; or for means to address harmful sexual behaviour that, say, a teacher spots in class.

Demand for such help is ramping up many times over, while services remain scarce and poorly funded

The Children’s Ministry set up a special team to identify the gaps and deliver kaupapa Māori co-designed services, even as existing services continued, under new funding of $60m from 2019 for four years.

It has now been revealed that this went so badly the team was shut down 20 months later, in August last year.

Four months after that, in December 2021, when RNZ asked the Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes how it was going, he said he was satisfied the ministry was progressing the sexual violence programmes “as intended”.

But it wasn’t.

Independent assessors had scrutinised it in April 2021.