Are you missing out? Is good policy what you need?

Are you missing out on the benefits of having good up-to-date policies and procedures?  In this post, we look at the value of good policy and procedures for organisations of all types.

If you want to get more out of your operating expenses and want more time to spend on other things, then read on.

Policies are multi-functional

Organisational policies and procedures are not just about compliance. They are multi-functional:

  • They are like a will. They help avoid the chaos and distress of uncertainty about what to do about a situation.
  • They double as a how-to guide for staff when faced with new responsibilities, roles and challenges.
  • If you’re expanding into new areas or building new collaborations, policies and procedures can be used to reflect agreement on the important stuff like communication, reporting, information-sharing, expenditure and income allocation.
  • They help you manage risks, for example of litigation, penalties, health and safety issues and risks to reputation.

Great bang for your buck. Yet, so many organisations and businesses are not reaping these benefits.


Too often organisations’ policies and procedures sit in old electronic and paper files, pulled out just for audits then put away again.

To state the obvious, this is dangerous! It’s a bit like not maintaining the structure of your house or whare. Eventually, rot can set in and more damage occur.

Unfortunately, we hear of lots of such calamities. Some publicly-aired ones include:

  • injuries in childcare centres where there was no policy and procedure to guide action and as a result, errors were made;
  • injury to a person being transported by an agency without sufficient safeguards in place;
  • abuse perpetrated against children and disabled people in residential settings where processes for reporting  concerns were inadequate; and
  • a failure to provide adequate medical treatment where there was no policy and procedure on informed consent and client-centred practice.

Time waster

Without good organisational policies, you’re also likely to be wasting a lot of needless time and energy, for example:

  • repeatedly telling staff what to do and having them tell you that they don’t know what to do
  • dealing with complaints
  • solving recurring problems with ad-hoc responses
  • doing fix-its on solutions that were made up by staff because they couldn’t access good guidance.

It’s wasted time; time that could be better spent on yourself or whānau or on other organisational priorities.

What’s good organisational policy and procedure?

To help figure out what state your policies and procedures are in, consider the criteria for policies and procedures in the NZS 8134.1: 2008 Health and Disability Services Standards.  Standard 2.3 requires policies and procedures to:

  • align with current good practice and service delivery
  • meet legislative requirements
  • be reviewed regularly
  • be supported by a document control system to ensure that old versions of policies are not being used.

Guidance for NZS 8134.3.1:2008 recommends additional criteria; that policies and procedures should:

  • be written and relevant to the organisation
  • be sufficiently flexible to respond to consumer needs
  • have a user-friendly format
  • contain appropriate technical information
  • be accessible to all staff
  • be developed and regularly reviewed with relevant service providers
  • identify helpful links (ie to other documents)

See here for how the Policy Place online policy and procedure service measures up.

Where to start

The task of reviewing and updating policies and procedures can feel overwhelming. It can be hard to know where to start.

If you’re into the DIY approach, as a first step get updated on legislation changes. Take a look at our post outlining key legislation changes over the last year.  At the very least you will need to review and update your policies using the legislation and the standards with which you much comply (ie SASS or HD stds.) Involve staff, research and reflect good practise literature.

Let us handle it 

You can let go of the stress and give us the job to do. At the Policy Place we are reviewing and updating organisations’ policies and procedures all the time. You get the benefits of policies and procedures that reflect cross-sector knowledge of good practice and policy and procedure expertise.

We give you policies and procedures fit for the 21st century with our online service. We keep them updated and regularly reviewed so you, your board and staff, have a lot less to worry about and a lot more time and energy for the things you want to do (eg recreation and leisure, other work priorities).


Book your free policy consultation 

Email us about your policy and procedure needs.




Get that makimaki/monkey off your back

There’s been a lot of change in law, policy and practice recently affecting social, health and disability services. There is likely to be more.

In this post, we overview some key changes to consider when reviewing and updating your organisation’s policies and procedures.

If policy review and updating feels like a makimaki/monkey on your back, contact us now for help. You can schedule a free 30 minute consultation about your needs and your best policy solution. We can take care of the reviews and updating.

If you’re a DIY policy person, tick off these changes as you review your organisation’s policies and procedures.

Legislation changes

Key changes that have commenced this year have been:

  • new provision for family violence leave and variation of employment terms for staff affected by family violence
  • changes to the law relating to family violence including how and when family violence information can be shared between authorised services and persons
  • changes relating to information-sharing for child protection and wellbeing purposes
  • extension of Oranga Tamariki legislation (statutory care and youth justice) to under 18 years (was previously  up to 17 years)
  • more support for young people leaving statutory care or custody up to 25 years
  • new principles to guide decisions and interventions under the Oranga Tamariki legislation (eg addressing mana tamaiti, recognition of whakapapa and involvement of those with whanaungatanga responsibilities)
  • new requirements on the CE of Oranga Tamariki to enter strategic partnerships with iwi, to give practical effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to report and monitor performance on outcomes for tamariki Māori
  • the introduction of new care standards setting minimum requirements for the statutory care of tamariki.


And don’t forget relevant practice and sector developments that are important enough to incorporate into your policies and procedures, for example:

  • stronger recognition across sectors of whānau-centric practice
  • more recognition of the need for trauma-informed responses
  • move from 3 Ps Treaty framework to article-based framework
  • more focus on workplace health and wellbeing
  • focus on cultural safety and cultural competency
  • mainstreaming – equality and accessibility
  • individualised funding.

Quit feeding the makimaki!

Usually, people contact us because they know their policies and procedures are not up to date. They are busy managing services like social housing, family violence intervention, care, mental health, counselling, perpetrator programmes, family support, sexual violence services etc.

They haven’t got the time to keep their organisations’ policies and procedures up-to-date. They no longer want the worry of it.

If this is you, contact us now. We can take care of your policy reviews and updating. Finally, you can get say “goodbye” to that makimaki on your back!


Impact of youth-related reforms

What will be the implications of the youth-related changes in the Oranga Tamariki reforms?  Now is the time to review your organisational policies if you want to get on board.

Today, I’m going to overview the changes. I consider how they address a key area of positive youth development – belonging – and the implications of the reforms for community and community services.

The Oranga Tamariki (OT) reforms.

The upcoming OT reforms establish new legislative principles and include age changes for leaving care, aftercare support and youth justice. The changes support positive youth development, in particular, “belonging” as a key developmental area for our youth.

Belonging in what sense?

The new legislation addresses three meanings of belonging for our rangatahi/youth:

  • the tangible – physical spaces we occupy and to which we connect – home, turangawaewae, whenua, land, community, neighbourhood, country
  • the relational – our membership and connections with whānau, family, hapū, aiga, peers and spiritual beliefs. This is the basis on which a young person can say “I am loved” (according to the Circle of Courage, a positive youth development approach)
  • the restorative – recognising a feeling of belonging is essential to resilience, the ability to cope with life and pain and to recover from trauma, mental health and addiction issues.

New principles

The new principles of the Act will guide the Ministry in the exercise of its powers and functions. Some of them apply generally to children and young people and some are specific to young people involved in youth justice, and to youth who are 18 years and over transitioning from care.

A young person’s need to belong in tangible, restorative and relational senses is recognised and supported:

  • young people should be increasingly supported to make their own decisions
  • young people should be supported to address the impacts of harm
  • the relationships between a young person and their family, whānau, hapū, iwi and family group should be supported and strengthened where appropriate
  • their mana must be protected by recognising the young person’s whakapapa and respecting whanaungatanga responsibilities
  • respect for a young person’s identity- gender, culture, sexuality, language, religion etc
  • recognise and address barriers to inclusion and participation that can be faced by disabled children.

Raising age for youth justice

From 1 July, most 17-year-olds who offend will come into the Youth Court jurisdiction. This is a long overdue reform and will hopefully lead to further reforms enabling even older youth to be dealt with in the youth system in preference to adult courts.

The youth system, like the adult system, holds offenders to account. However, there’s more scope in the youth system for the tangible, relational and restorative aspects of belonging for a young person to be recognised and addressed. In other words, more scope for positive youth development.

Instead of having to appear in the adult courts, from 1 July, most 17-year-olds will be either diverted by police (as an Alternative Action) or,  be referred directly to a family group conference before any charge can be laid against them. A family group conference has the potential to address a young person’s need for belonging:  their tangible need for a place to call “home, and for trusting relationships to support them to take responsibility for wrongdoing, make amends and if appropriate, provide reparation to victims.

Age increase for leaving care and support for independence

The new legislation finally makes our country compliant with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, making Oranga Tamariki the responsible parent it was always meant to be.

The care and protection system will apply to 17-year-olds. The reforms also provide a lot more support for rangatahi to transition from care to independence. A young person in care will be entitled to live with a caregiver up until age 21 and to access advice and assistance up until 25 years.

Oranga Tamariki already makes some provision for young people to be supported to transition from care. But the support to remain with a caregiver and provision for assistance until 25 years old are big shifts.

Supporting the young person’s path to independence is the kaupapa and addressing their need for belonging (in a tangible, relational and restorative sense) is crucial:

  • maintaining their sense of home (tangible) with an existing caregiver
  • supporting and building trusted relationships (eg whānau, aiga and others that exist)
  • supporting the young person to address the impacts of harm

Implications for community and youth services

The changes are going to have a significant impact on OT itself. Funding for the changes was announced by the Minister of Children earlier this year.

Most youth services already work with rangatahi up to 25 years. But there may be impacts on these and other services, for example, more demand for:

  • youth-friendly placements and care opinions
  • health services to extend and open up to 17-year-olds (instead of making 18 the magic age for accessing a service)
  • for iwi and others who are delegated to run FGCs
  • for youth and other services who assist young people transitioning from care.

Buy-in from the community is crucial if these reforms are going to work. Rangatahi are part of families, whānau, hapū and family groups. It is at these levels therefore that the potential of the reforms to support young people’s sense of belonging and positive development has to be activated. Adequate resourcing and funding by government and local authorities for the community to do so is vital.

Review your organisational policies

If your organisation wants to be part of these changes it is a good idea to review your policies and procedures.

Some issues to consider include:

  • your definition of a young person
  • if you’re wanting to get on board with the extended youth justice jurisdiction, whether your policies adequately address legal obligations such as reporting and intersect with the court
  • do the changes impact on your duty of care
  • how you address youth participation
  • whether your policies adequately support  youth inclusive practice for the diversity of youth in this country
  • the alignment of your policies and practices with the new legislative principles (general and specific youth principles).

Do you want policy help?

Contact The Policy Place if you need help with reviewing and updating your policies to support service provision to rangatahi. We want to awhi you in order to support some of our most disadvantaged young people. Let’s work together on this!