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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/practice-approach/practice-standards/ensure-safety-and-wellbeing/wellbeing/
Printed: 26/04/2024
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Last updated: 01/07/2019


Any person can report a concern to Oranga Tamariki if they believe a tamaiti has been, or is likely to be, harmed, ill-treated, abused, neglected or deprived, or if they have concerns about the wellbeing of a tamaiti.

Upcoming changes for this content

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 content. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice approach

What is wellbeing

The wellbeing of tamariki and rangatahi brings in consideration of a holistic view of their strengths, protective factors, and needs across a number of domains.

  • Having what they need
    • material needs such as food and clothing
    • safe, stable, warm housing
  • Connection and contribution
    • healthy relationships, and positive sense of identity
    • connection to culture, belief, identity, whakapapa (genealogy) and whanaungatanga
    • caring for others
    • prosocial attitudes and influences
  • Being loved, safe and nurtured
    • safe and loving whānau, homes and communities
    • safe from avoidable accidents, and intentional harm (including neglect and abuse)
  • Respect and acceptance
    • feeling accepted, valued and respected — at home and in communities
    • sense of belonging and having a say in the world around them
    • freedom from racism and discrimination
  • Learning and developing
    • the skills needed to accomplish goals meaningful to them
    • positively engaged and achieving in education
    • having life skills, including making choices about further education and employment
  • Happy and healthy
    • mana is strong
    • skills and support to heal and maintain wellness
    • healthy environments

This scope of wellbeing is consistent with the scope of domains covered by the Tuituia assessment. Note that our legislation also states that wellbeing, in relation to tamaiti and rangatahi, includes their welfare.

Responding to notifications of wellbeing concerns

Anyone with worries about the wellbeing of tamariki and rangatahi may report their concerns to Oranga Tamariki.

Concerns about wellbeing could range from worries about whether tamariki and rangatahi have their everyday living needs met right now (such as enough food for tea), through to concern about achieving their longer-term development potential (for example, achieving at school).

Our response will depend on the impact of harm that the wellbeing concerns present for te tamaiti. In most cases tamariki and their whānau or family can be redirected to other agencies and will not need statutory involvement to address wellbeing concerns.

A child and family assessment is only necessary and desirable where wellbeing concerns indicate:

  • te tamaiti or rangatahi may be suffering, or may be likely to suffer, serious harm as a result, or
  • wellbeing concerns are complex or wide ranging, and may require more information to be gathered before determining the response.

Investigation of report of ill-treatment or neglect of child or young person — section 17 of Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

When thinking about whether further statutory assessment or investigation is necessary or desirable in relation to wellbeing concerns we consider:

  • whether serious harm or risk of serious harm is indicated
  • what protective and strength factors are present
  • the extent to which the risks are being managed or are able to be managed.

When reported wellbeing concerns do not indicate serious harm or risk of serious harm that requires a statutory response, existing pathways will enable tamariki and their whānau or family to be linked to support and assistance. These include advice on alternative support and access to support, referral to other agencies, partnered response, Strengthening Families, and Children’s Teams where these are in place.

In choosing the response, we can be guided by these prompts:

  • What are the range of concerns?
  • Are the concerns new or have they existed over time? Are they escalating?
  • Do the concerns relate to a single area of wellbeing or are there multiple areas of concern?
  • Has support to address the concerns been provided previously and how receptive were whānau or family to this support?

It can also be helpful to consider what type of support might be appropriate to address the concern:

  • What organisations, agencies, community groups or other parties are usually involved with providing support for the concerns raised? Are they involved yet?
  • Who or what organisation, agency or community service is best placed to respond in this case?
  • Are there strengths and resources in the wider whānau or family and natural support networks that can be drawn on to meet the needs?
  • Can the concerns be addressed by a universally available service (such as budgeting support)?
  • Are there multiple needs which could be responded to by a social, community, cultural or iwi service provider?
  • Could several groups, agencies or other parties working together (such as through a Strengthening Families process) provide the support needed to meet the needs?

Range of wellbeing concerns and pathways

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