Saturday October 21, 2017   Last updated 19:51PM
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Maori culture a circuit breaker for youth homes

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The Children’s Commissioner says reorganising youth justice facilities to bring a more Maori focus could be a circuit breaker.

Judge Andrew Becroft’s latest report on state residential facilities is highly critical of the way they are run and questions whether they are fit for purpose today.

He says the five care and protection homes hark back to an older era and should be replaced with more low key, family-based homes with good house parents and experts on call.

The four youth justice facilities are bare and spartan with 70 percent of residents being Maori.

That compares with only 20 percent of rangatahi being Maori, making it the worst example of ethnic disproportionality in the criminal justice system.

"The youth justice residences are really run on a European model wth some cultural add ons and the challenge is we could completely refocus the way we do it, we being a te ao Maori world view, we work with iwi, iwi leaders are involved, and the delivery is through a different cultural lens. I think we've got to that now. I think that might be the circuit breaker," Judge Becroft says.

Most of the young people who end up in residential care come from backgrounds of abuse and neglect, financial stress, chronic family violence, and dislocation from education, community and culture, so it is a small group with complex needs.

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