Complaints and investigations
Reports to Oranga Tamariki or the police that a child is being harmed or neglected
Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 15
Anyone can contact Oranga Tamariki or the police if they think a child has been harmed or abused or neglected (including emotional harm), or if they have concerns about the child’s wellbeing. Oranga Tamariki also get reports from people worried about a child’s behaviour.
Sometimes reports come from members of the community. In some cases they may come from officials in the government or courts – for example, the Family Court if it’s concerned about a child who’s involved in a case at the court.
Reports to Oranga Tamariki can be made to their National Contact Centre phone line (0508 FAMILY – 0508 326 459). The National Contact Centre also gets emails, letters and faxes.
How reports of harm are assessed and investigated
Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, ss 15, 17, 49
When someone reports abuse to Oranga Tamariki’s National Contact Centre, a social worker at the centre will assess the report and decide what should be done.
Sometimes they may decide that the report doesn’t need any further assessment or action. But they may instead decide that it should go to what they call a “child and family assessment”, or to an Oranga Tamariki investigation. Any case that could possibly be a criminal assault or other criminal offence will be investigated.
Once it’s decided that the case will need to go on to some further step like an assessment or investigation, Oranga Tamariki calls the report a “report of concern”.
Oranga Tamariki will do a child and family assessment, and not an investigation, when they think the child’s safety or wellbeing may be at risk but they don’t think there’s any need to involve the police or a criminal-type investigation.
The assessment will look at how safe the child is and what their care and protection needs are. It will look at the strengths that the child and the family/whānau can bring to the situation, and the services that Oranga Tamariki could provide to help.
The social worker or the police can also apply to a Family Court Judge for a court order for the child to have a medical examination. The judge can order an examination if they are satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect the child has been harmed, abused or neglected.
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