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HomeAus & NZOranga Tamariki workers failed to listen to Hastings preschooler abused by parents

Oranga Tamariki workers failed to listen to Hastings preschooler abused by parents

'Quick read' news summary

Social workers failed to listen to a Hastings preschooler, who was left permanently brain-damaged after repeated assaults by his parents, a review has found.

The boy’s father, Whare Ramsey, 28, and stepmother Larissa Wainohu, 33, were jailed in October over the assault of the four-year-old in January 2020, which left him fighting for his life in Starship Hospital.

At the time, police said it was likely he would be left severely disabled and brain damaged due to his injuries.

An officer said the injuries were some of the most severe he had seen on a child during his 30 years in the police force.

Oranga Tamariki received its first “report of concern” about the boy in September 2018 but after consultation with family, decided the child was “safe” and no further action was required.

Following the second report, social workers brought in another agency to work with the family but again decided no further action was needed.

After the third report, Oranga Tamariki intended to make a home visit, but it was then advised the child was in hospital with a head injury – that first hospitalisation triggered the fourth report.

He was discharged to live with other family members while an assessment took place.

Oranga Tamariki’s internal practice analysis review has found there were clear plans in place and “good cooperation” with whānau involved in decision-making.

Under “identified strengths”, the report lists the number of hui ā-whānau undertaken, referrals to community providers, and Oranga Tamariki’s “clear rationale for returning the child home” for Christmas in 2019.

However, it also stated “areas for practice improvement”, including “the child’s voice could have featured more in the social work assessment”.

“Information was taken at face value when it could have been explored in greater depth, and contradictory information should have been explored further.”

The boy’s mother’s whānau was not included in any discussions.

The report

Social workers failed to listen to a Hastings preschooler, who was left permanently brain-damaged after repeated assaults by his parents, a review has found. At the time, police said it was likely he would be left severely disabled and brain damaged due to his injuries. Following the second report, social workers brought in another agency to work with the family but again decided no further action was needed.

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