Minister for Children Anne Tolley has welcomed New Zealand’s first independent connection and advocacy service for children and young people in care, which will be called VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai.
The service, which was a recommendation of the expert panel which advised the Minister on the overhaul of care and protection, will begin operating as a new NGO in April 2017. It will help children and young people across the country who are in care to connect with each other, and will ensure that the views of young people are included in the development of policies and services in the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki.
VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai has been developed in partnership between young people with experience of being in care, the government, the philanthropic sector and NGOs. Legislation was passed in Parliament at the end of last year to enable its establishment.
Initial government funding of $1.2 million has helped set-up the new service, with a further $6.9 million to be contributed by the government through to June 2019, to help build its capability.
“I am delighted that, for the first time, young people in care in New Zealand are to have an independent advocacy service to represent them,” says Mrs Tolley.
“The voices and needs of young people need to be at the very centre of all decision-making in the new model for care and protection, and this service will play a vital role.
“In addition, a Youth Advisory Panel made up of young people in care or with experience of being in care, will continue to advise me on all aspects of the overhaul and the implementation of a completely new care system.
“There are no quick fixes. The radical overhaul of care and protection is going to take a huge amount of work over a number of years. But it needs to take place and we are determined to make this succeed for our vulnerable young people.”
Published as per Beehive Press Release. Image