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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/care/caring-for-tamariki-in-care/supporting-tamariki-with-their-health-needs/legal-provisions-for-medical-examinations/
Printed: 19/05/2024
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Last updated: 09/11/2020

Legal provisions for medical examinations

An overview of the 3 provisions of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 where we or the court can arrange physical, psychological or psychiatric examinations for tamariki or rangatahi, or their parents, guardians or caregivers.

Upcoming changes for this guidance

This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from ​Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this guidance. The following resources provide support:
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Requesting a medical examination for te tamaiti or rangatahi

Section 53 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 (the Act) allows social workers, with the consent of any parent or guardian, to arrange a medical examination for any tamaiti or rangatahi who has a warrant issued for them under section 39 or who has been placed in our care under section 40 or 42 of the Act.

Where we haven’t been able to get consent, after reasonable effort, and we still want to arrange a medical examination for te tamaiti or rangatahi, then we should ask our supervisor for advice.

If the medical examination is completed without parental or guardian consent, we must prepare a report to our regional manager (or delegated authority from the chief executive) within 3 days of the examination being carried out. In this report we should describe why we needed to have the medical examination done and how we tried to get consent.

Medical examination of child or young person at request of chief executive – section 53 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

Consent for medical examinations and treatment

Court-ordered medical examination of te tamaiti or rangatahi

Under section 49 of the Act, we can apply for a court-ordered medical examination before or after making an application for a care or protection order. To make this order, the court must be satisfied that we have reasonable grounds for suspecting te tamaiti or rangatahi is suffering ill treatment, abuse, neglect, deprivation or serious harm, and that a medical examination needs to be carried out as soon as possible to find out whether harm has occurred. The court can impose restrictions on the nature of the medical examination and the procedures used, and the health practitioner who does the medical examination must provide a report to the court.

Court may order medical examination of child or young person – section 49 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

Court-ordered medical, psychiatric or psychological reports

Under section 179 of the Act, the court may, if applied for by any party to the proceedings or on its own, order te tamaiti or rangatahi, or a parent, guardian or caregiver to have a medical, psychiatric or psychological report at any stage of the care and protection proceedings. Before this order is made for a parent, guardian or caregiver, we require that person’s consent.

Medical, psychiatric, and psychological reports – section 178 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

We should talk with our colleagues and supervisor when we think a medical examination is needed.