New Zealand Law Society - New ministry, new legislation from 1 April

New ministry, new legislation from 1 April

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The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki comes into existence on 1 April 2017, when the Children, Young Persons and Their Families (Advocacy, Workforce and Age Settings) Amendment Act 2016 also comes into effect.

The new ministry will refer to itself as Oranga Tamariki. A number of legislative changes will potentially affect the work of family lawyers:

  • 17-year-olds will now be included within section 2, 3 and 3A definitions of "young person" in care and protection matters.  
  • The chief executive of Oranga Tamariki has largely replaced the statutory functionary references to a social worker. 
  • There are strengthened provisions about children’s views and participation provisions in new section 11.  This change enables support persons to attend court proceedings and FGCs to assist the child/young person to participate/express their views.
  • There is a new requirement in section 7 for the chief executive to provide children and young persons with an opportunity to express their views for the purpose of contributing to process and service improvement.

Minister for Children Anne Tolley says the new ministry will focus on five core services - prevention, intensive intervention, care support, youth justice, and transition support into adulthood.