“Outlook determines outcome. If we see only the problems, we will be defeated; but if we see the possibilities in the problems, we can have victory.” Warren Wiersbe

Tēnā koutou katoa,

Welcome to the first issue of Policy Watch for 2021. In this edition you’ll find notices of upcoming events including hearings for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into abuse, updates on Oranga Tamariki and the government’s work on social sector commissioning. We also feature a number of requests for feedback and input from the social services sector.

2021 Legislation Programme…Still Waiting

With the end of February in view, we are still to see Parliament’s legislation programme for 2021. Unlike other years, this programme will encompass the entire three-year parliamentary term rather than solely the current sitting year. We are keenly watching for the programme and will update you on matters of interest once it is published.

The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry Faith-based Redress Hearings – Phase Two

The second phase of the Commission’s faith-based hearing will take place weekdays from 15 to 30 March 2021, in the Commission’s Auckland office (414 Khyber Pass Road).

This Phase Two hearing will focus on evidence on redress processes from witnesses called on behalf of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand, Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, and the Salvation Army New Zealand. It follows on from the first hearing late last year where survivors of abuse detailed their experiences of seeking redress, including on aspects such as compensation, counselling and apology.

The hearings will be live streamed through the Commission website, with witness statements and video testimony published shortly after the appearances of witnesses. Follow this link to the Commission’s website.

In other Commission news, the first public hearing for the State Residential Care investigation is scheduled for 3 to 7 May 2021. The May hearing will focus particularly on experiences of abuse in the Kingslea Girls Home (Christchurch) and Moerangi Treks (Urewera). The investigation team also wants to hear from survivors or witnesses of abuse at these residences:

  • Kohitere Boys Training Centre 
  • Hokio Beach School  
  • Epuni Boys Home 
  • Ōwairaka Boys Home 
  • Bollard Girls Home 
  • Whakapakari Youth Trust (Great Barrier Island)
  • Family Homes throughout New Zealand.

Follow this link for more information on the State residential care hearings.

Social Workers Registration Process Closing Soon

Nearly 10,000 social workers around Aotearoa New Zealand are now registered. And there’s still time to make the mandatory registration deadline of 27 February.  The Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB) has bolstered its team to ensure it can process the influx of applications.

If you or your employees have question, follow this link to the SWRB website. You can also call SWRB on 0508 797 269 or email at applications@swrb.govt.nz, and join Q&A zoom sessions on a Thursday from 1pm at the following link – https://bit.ly/31H8XEq.  

Launch of Scope of Practice for Social Workers

Mandatory registration of social workers was one of a number of requirements introduced by changes to the Social Workers Registration Act 2003. Those changes also required a General Scope of Practice to be developed as a high-level description of social work in Aotearoa New Zealand. Applying across all fields of practice for registered social workers, the Scope was launched today by SWRB. Follow this link to learn more about the Scope.

Contribute to Progressing Open Government

Aotearoa New Zealand is a member of the Open Government Partnership, an international agreement between 78 countries to try to make the decision making of governments more open, transparent and accountable.

Every two years, the New Zealand Government publishes a National Action Plan outlining the steps to be taken to progress the journey towards that goal. Te Kawa Mataaho The Public Service Commission is inviting your thoughts and ideas to help develop the latest Action Plan. Any contributed reflections or ideas published will be included anonymously.

If you’re interested, the Commission has launched an online channel where you can contribute your ideas. Follow the link here.

Social Sector Commissioning

As part of the government’s goal of improving how it works with social service providers, it is planning wide community consultation on Social Sector commissioning in the first half of this year.

An official update was released in August 2020 to describe the improvement work underway across government agencies, mahi being jointly led by the Ministry of Social Development and Oranga Tamariki. In line with the government’s commitment to the ongoing development of strong partnerships with the sector, the update proposed six foundation principles:

  1. Individuals, families, whānau and communities exercise choice
  2. Māori-Crown partnerships are at the heart of effective commissioning
  3. The sector works together locally, regionally and nationally
  4. The sector is sustainable
  5. Decisions and actions are taken transparently
  6. The sector is always learning and improving

In the latest Kia Mauri Ora magazine produced by Social Service Providers Aotearoa(SSPA), the lead ministries outlined three areas of focus for 2021:

  • Developing funding principles and consistent costing approaches
  • Strengthening local, regional and national decisionmaking
  • Finding the right opportunities for rationalised monitoring and more flexible contracts.

NZCCSS will keep you updated on developments. Follow this link to learn more.

Oranga Tamariki Advisory Board Appointed

Late January, Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis established the Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board to advise him on the agency’s relationships with families, whānau, and Māori; professional social work practices; and organisational culture. Board appointees are Matthew Tukaki (chair), Dame Naida Glavish, Shannon Pakura and Sir Mark Solomon.

The Board’s establishment follows the announcement on January 22 by Gráinne Moss to step down from her roles as Secretary for Children and Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki. Mrs Moss leaves the organisation at the end of this month.

Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes has appointed Sir Wira Gardiner (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pikiao, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and te Whakatōhea) as Acting Chief Executive. Sir Wira was the founding director of the Waitangi tribunal, head of the Iwi Translation Agency and founding Chief Executive of Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Māori Development.

Oranga Tamariki Section 7AA Workshops

The Tiaki Tamariki Whakamana Whānau programme is a workshop series that supports Oranga Tamariki-funded providers to respond to Section 7AA. NZCCSS is working with SSPA and training providers Haua Partnerships to deliver the series, currently, in nine regions across the North Island.  Feedback from the five regions where the series has launched, is that attendees are finding the workshops helpful.

Registrations are still being taken for the launch of the workshops in remaining regions, Hawke’s Bay (19 Feb), New Plymouth (2 Mar), Whangarei (4 Mar), Tauranga (date tbc).

Follow this link to find out more on the workshops or to register.

Input Sought for Information Sharing Surveys

The Ministry of Justice and Oranga Tamariki are seeking sector input on how well information sharing provisions introduced by recent legislative changes are working.

The Family Violence Act 2018 introduced information sharing laws to allow the family violence sector to collect, use and disclose personal information for specified purposes. The new laws took effect in July 2019. The changes require those in the family violence sector to consider sharing information if it may help protect a victim from family violence, or if they receive a request for information.

The Ministry of Justice is seeking to find out if the family violence sector is using the information sharing provisions and the guidance it provided. It also wants to know how it can better support information sharing in the family violence sector. The Ministry has created a short online survey and invites your views. Follow this link to take part.

Oranga Tamariki is running a survey about information sharing provisions in the Oranga Tamariki Act, which also took effect in July 2019.  You may also like to complete that survey by following this link.