Child Protection Policy

Last Review Date:
June 2021
Next Review Date:
June 2023


The purpose of this policy is to articulate the department’s commitment to supporting the wellbeing and safety of children and young people, and to provide links to advice for the department’s staff when considering issues related to children and child protection.
Several thousand children engage with a range of the department’s services each year. This policy formalises our commitment to protect the interests of children whose families we work alongside, regardless of the service through which that contact occurs.
This policy is a living document. It will continue to be regularly reviewed and updated as a result of operational experience, and in line with any amended or new legislation or associated policies.


This policy applies to all Department of Corrections staff who are defined as permanent, fixed-term, and casual staff, as well as secondees, consultants, contractors, and volunteers.

Department values and key principles

Table 1
Manaaki – We care for and respect everyone

The department will provide suitable and sufficient resources including information, instruction and training so that the protection and welfare of children that interact and engage with our services is a paramount consideration.

Principle 1: Abuse or neglectful treatment of children will not be tolerated, and any concerns of such treatment must be reported.
Whānau – We develop supportive relationships

The department will encourage and support the fostering of relationships with Oranga Tamariki, whānau, hapū, iwi, and any other agency partner to support the wellbeing of children engaging with our services.

Principle 2: Effective information sharing and consistent communication between staff, whānau, and other agencies is the foundation for sound decision-making for keeping children safe. We will work as a team and share information appropriately with regards to child safety.
Wairua – We are unified and focused in our efforts

The department recognises that everyone has a shared responsibility to promote the safety and wellbeing of the children. Everyone is expected to recognise and respond appropriately to instances of suspected or evidenced abuse and neglect.

Principle 3: Protection from abuse and neglect is a basic human right, and the department will strive to uphold this right for every child with whom it engages.
Kaitiaki – We are responsive and responsible

The department will create facilities, spaces, and engagements that have the safety and wellbeing of children as a key consideration.


Principle 4: The safety and welfare of a child is paramount when a child engages with all people including Department staff and services. We will endeavour to identify, eliminate or mitigate risks relating to child abuse and neglect through our services.

Principle 5: Where concerns have been raised by staff members and reported, we acknowledge the impact this can have on staff welfare, and support will be available

Rangatira – We demonstrate leadership and are accountable

Department staff will demonstrate a commitment to ensuring all children who interact with our service are safe and free from risk of child abuse and neglect. To do this we will encourage staff to utilise training to inspire positive whānau relationships and model pro-social behaviour to parents and children.

Staff will role model safe behaviour to others and encourage and support people to demonstrate child appropriate pro-social behaviour.

Principle 6: All staff have an obligation to be sure that every child engaging with Corrections is safe.

Principle 7: The department will consider concerns or complaints brought to its attention according to the law, the department’s policies and procedures and without bias.

Principle 8:  The department will actively work to upskill, promote and educate staff and the people in our care to mitigate risks to children.

Statutory responsibilities

The Department reports any concerns about suspected abuse and neglect to the appropriate authorities.

Statutory responsibility to investigate allegations of child abuse in New Zealand rests with Oranga Tamariki and Police.

Where a Report of Concern (previously called a notification) has been made to Oranga Tamariki or Police and an investigation is about to commence, Department staff must not:

  • contact the suspected individual for any reason other than sentence management; or,
  • discuss the case with anyone who is not connected directly with the investigation.


For the purposes of this policy, and to ensure compliance with the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, a child is a person under 18 years old.
Child Abuse
Defined in section two of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 as “the harming (whether physically, emotionally, or sexually), ill-treatment, abuse, neglect, or deprivation of any child.”

See appendix 1 for more information about potential indicators of abuse.

Physical Abuseᶧ
May involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child, including fabricating the symptoms of, or deliberately causing, ill health to a child.
Sexual Abuseᶧ
Involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts and non-physical contact – for example, sexual grooming. Sexual abuse may also include involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Emotional Abuseᶧ
The persistent emotional ill treatment of a child adversely affects their development, it may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless, unloved, and inadequate; or where inappropriate expectations are imposed upon them. In addition, it includes children who are regularly frightened, exploited or corrupted.
The persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development, such as failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, or neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
Contact includes but is not limited to:
  • face to face contact visits
  • booth visits
  • audio visual link (AVL) visits
  • written correspondence
  • communication via telephone call
  • being in the visits space when children are present
  • attendance at whānau days. and,
  • attendance at programme graduations.
Is defined in this policy as the different kinds of workplace activities/practices that Corrections staff undertake.

ᶧ Defined by Child Matters.

Related Departmental Policies and Procedures

Child protection refers to activities involved in the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect.  Part of this is about the department having procedures and practice frameworks that support the safety of children and young people. There are opportunities in other parts of our lives where opportunities can arise to take steps to identify and respond to child abuse and neglect.

Information about the definition and identification of child abuse and neglect can be found in the Community Probation Practice Centre. This includes information about dealing with disclosure of abuse, effective recognition of signs of abuse, response, reporting and recording.

This section identifies existing policies and procedural information held by Corrections which relate to the Child Protection Policy. It also refers to existing legislation and sources of further information in the Prison Operations Manual (POM) and Community Corrections Practice Centre which will assist with how to manage child protection matters.

Internal information

Provides instructions to department employees on the day-to-day activities relating to managing a prison. Specific links to POM that support this policy and the protection of children visiting our prisons are below:
Young people (aged 14-17) in our care
Some youth on sentence or in prison are still legally considered to be children, and we need to consider the interface with Oranga Tamariki about their pathway.
  • Young people in custody
  • Working with Youth - Probation Practice Centre, includes the transition to adulthood service - Oranga Tamariki
Mothers and Babies units
We have obligations under this policy for any children, including in the Mothers with Babies units in prisons.  These are links to information about those units and managing pregnancy and babies for women in our care
  • Female and pregnant prisoners
  • Mothers with Babies facilities
Community Probation and Case Management Practice Centres
Online home of the Integrated Practice Framework and the related tools designed to support practitioners to work effectively with people serving sentences and orders in the community.
Relationship Agreement between Corrections and Oranga Tamariki, including how to contact them.
Establishes and promotes a collaborative relationship between our agencies and focuses our collective efforts on how we can work together to improve outcomes for children and their families, and reduce reoffending.

Keeping children safe when they engage with our services

The basic principles for dealing with disclosure are:

Respond to the person
Believe what you are told and what you see.
Take down all initial statements, observations and concerns immediately to avoid misinterpretations or confusion later. Record any decisions made and actions taken.
Do not make decisions alone, contact your manager, practice leader, or another agency that has a child protection focus.
Make sure the child is safe
Always act in the short term to secure the immediate safety of the child. If in doubt contact Oranga Tamariki on 0508 293 5465 or email  Reports of concern should be done through REFER online
If you think there is an immediate risk of the child being abused call the Police via 111.
Decide to act on your concerns. Do not leave it to someone else or hope it will not happen again.
Get support
Get support for yourself. There is support available through the EAP service and your immediate manager. Visit or call 0800 327 669.

All staff have a professional obligation to maintain the safety and wellbeing of children that the people in our care are in contact with and to report suspected abuse so it is brought to the attention of the relevant agencies, and so the child can have the required amount of support and protection. Staff must consider the impact of their decisions on the safety and wellbeing of children.

Related Legislation and Regulations

Section 73 sets out that a prisoner is entitled to private visitors.

Corrections Regulations 2005

Section 106 states the conditions that must be in place when a visitor under the age of 18 visits a prison.
Important legislation relating to children and young persons who need care or protection, or who offend against the law.
- Link to s. 15 and 16 of the OT act
Makes significant changes to protect vulnerable children and help them thrive. It supports the Government in setting priorities for improving the wellbeing of children, and ensures that agencies work together to improve the wellbeing of children.
Care of Children Act 2004
Promotes children’s welfare and best interests by helping to ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place for their guardianship and care – including parenting arrangements and orders.
Family Violence Act 2018
Provides information on information sharing for agencies such as the department (s. 20-25), and the laws governing Protection orders, police safety orders, occupancy, tenancy and furniture orders. It also covers safety and non-violence programme provision.
Privacy Act 2020 and information sharing guide (2019)
The personal information that department staff handle about offenders, staff, contractors, visitors, and others is governed by the principles of the Privacy Act. Section 6 sets out the Privacy Principles.

Sharing information safely: Guidance on sharing personal information under the Family Violence Act 2018 [PDF, 3.4 MB]

Guide to sharing information under the Family Violence Act 2018 [PDF, 540 KB]

Allows (but does not require) information sharing in certain instances.
Is a comprehensive human rights treaty that specifically enshrines children's rights in international law.

It was adopted by the United Nations in 1989 and defines universal principles and standards for the status and treatment of children worldwide.

Key Accountabilities and Responsibilities

Table 2
Person / Party
Deputy National Commissioner
  • Demonstrate that the Policy is working effectively through reporting   of compliance to the Policy when required
  • Reviews this Policy in accordance with the next stated review date
  • Responsible for the production and maintenance of any supporting   procedures nationally
  • Promotes awareness of this Policy
  • Makes available Child Protection Training for all staff
Regional Commissioner
  • Monitor the support and administration of the policy within the   region.
  • Responsible for the production and maintenance of any supporting   procedures regionally
  • Responsible for ensuring all staff are aware   of the availability of child protection training.
Prison Director
  • Responsible for having monitoring and reporting arrangements in place to keep children safe when visiting the prison environment.
  • Have an established Child Protection Policy   process for decisions on child visitor applications for offenders who have CPP alerts.
  • Responsible for ensuring any concerns raised to management staff at their site are promptly and appropriately acted on, including involving other agencies including Police and Oranga Tamariki as appropriate.
  • Promotes awareness of this Policy
District Manager
  • Responsible for the effective implementation of this policy and practice at all sites within their respective districts.
  • Responsible for ensuring any concerns raised to management staff are promptly and appropriately acted on, including involving other agencies including Police and Oranga Tamariki as appropriate.
  • Promotes awareness of this Policy

(Permanent, fixed-term, and casual staff, as well as secondees, consultants, contractors, and volunteers)

  • Can recognise potential indicators of abuse or neglect.
  • Are aware of the risk that people may pose to children.
  • Promptly record factual accounts of any concerns they have or that are brought to their attention.
  • Promptly refer those reports and concerns to managers and external agencies if appropriate.
  • Promptly raise concerns and share   information with their manager so that a full risk assessment for the child   can be completed if appropriate.
  • Proactively involve whānau/family, the wider community (if safe) and other professionals to be confident that children are   kept safe.

Monitoring and Assurance

The policy owners have overall responsibility for monitoring the effectiveness of, and compliance with, the Child Protection Policy.

Success measures for this policy are:

  • All concerns and incidents of abuse and neglect are reported, and there is a process for following up cases of ongoing risk (through REFER).
  • Staff report they are informed and trained to identify and report cases of potential abuse and neglect.
  • Recommendations from Operational and Event Review outcomes are tracked, administered and reported on.

Tools and processes used to assess compliance and to monitor effectiveness include (but are not limited to):

  • The number of Reports of Concern reported through REFER online.
  • Quality checking and thematic review of Reports of Concern, determining next steps in relation to training needs.
  • Analysis and review of harm events, notifiable events and sentinel events including lessons learned and findings.
  • Training; delivery and uptake.
  • Any guidance, publication or processes delivered through Frontline and Tātou
  • Quarterly reporting to Audit, Integrity, Risk and Security team.