Children in care
Note: The Oversight of Oranga Tamariki System Bill passed its third and final reading on 23 August 2022. The information on this page will be updated to reflect the Chief Ombudsman’s enhanced role.
Concerned about the safety of a child or young person?
If you are concerned about the immediate safety of tamariki or rangatahi, please call Oranga Tamariki on:
- Freephone 0508 326 459 or
- New Zealand Police on 111
The Children in Care team
Tamariki and rangatahi, their family/whānau, caregivers and others involved with Oranga Tamariki can speak with an investigator from the Ombudsman’s Children in Care Complaints team.
They can help by giving you advice and will talk with you to understand how the Ombudsman can help you about resolving or investigating your complaint. Investigators are trained and experienced in responding to and investigating complaints about Oranga Tamariki.
They understand that it can be difficult when making a complaint. The Ombudsman encourages tamariki and rangatahi to have support people with them during this process. It must be someone they can trust; for example whānau, a support person or a friend.
If you do not have a support person and would like one, discuss this with an investigator.
Rest assured, your privacy and mana will be protected and any information you share with the Ombudsman is confidential.
Speaking to us
You’ll always be treated respectfully and courteously when you speak to us. We’re here to help you so when you speak to us:
- treat us with respect and courtesy
- help us to help you, such as when we need more information from you
- understand that the Chief Ombudsman does not tolerate any kind of abuse of his staff
Who can make a complaint
You can make a complaint to the Ombudsman if you are unhappy about a decision or action that Oranga Tamariki has made that you feel is unfair or not right. The Ombudsman receives complaints from:
- children, young people, tamariki and rangatahi, family/whanau, and extended family who are or have been involved with Oranga Tamariki.
- caregivers who are or have been involved with Oranga Tamariki.
- professionals or advocacy groups who are or have been involved with Oranga Tamariki.
How to make a complaint
There are many ways you can speak to the Ombudsman about Oranga Tamariki:
You can make a complaint by:
- Making an online complaint
- Free phone: 0800 802 602
- Email: [email protected]
- Postage: The Ombudsman, PO Box 10152, Wellington 6143
- If you’re complaining on behalf of tamariki or rangatahi, find out how you can be a representative. You must be someone the tamariki and rangatahi can trust; for example whānau, a support person or a friend.
What will happen when you make a complaint?
Here’s what will happen after you have made your complaint to the Ombudsman:
- If you have sent your complaint in writing, you will receive a reply that your complaint has been received.
- An investigator will make arrangements to contact to you about your complaint. If it is easier for you to tell the investigator what has happened in person, virtually, by phone or in writing, please let them know. Please let them know if you need a support person.
- It is helpful if you can be specific about what actions and decisions Oranga Tamariki have made that you are unhappy with. The investigator may ask you questions to get information to help them understand your complaint.
- Your information and possibly information from Oranga Tamariki about your complaint will be assessed by an investigator. This will help the Ombudsman to decide next steps.
- The investigator will keep you updated at key stages of the Ombudsman’s complaint.
- The Ombudsman will decide if your complaint can be investigated. If he can’t a full explanation will be given, along with other options that may be helpful. Most complaints can be resolved simply by talking to you and Oranga Tamariki. If Oranga Tamariki can help to resolve your complaint, an investigation may not be necessary.
- If the Ombudsman decides to investigate, you’ll be assigned an investigator who will work with you to find out all the relevant information needed to investigate your complaint.
What happens when an investigation begins
The Ombudsman will work on getting a fair outcome for you and Oranga Tamariki. Your complaint will be investigated to enable the Ombudsman to form an opinion about whether Oranga Tamariki acted reasonably or unreasonably.
Below are some of the published outcomes of complaints that the Ombudsman has investigated. In the published material below, all personal information has been removed to protect the privacy of the complainant.
- Full Report: He Take Kōhukihuki | A Matter of Urgency
- Treatment of disabled mother and removal of newborn child
- Full Practice review of social work practice after notification of investigation
- Complaint about the reimbursement of costs when attending the Chief Executive’s Advisory Panel
- Complaint from a young person in a Care and Protection Residence
- Cancellation of access between mother and son due to COVID Alert Level 4 lockdown
- Call to avoid the pending removal of a newborn baby