In 2019, the Youth Justice age was raised from 17 to 18. With this legislative policy change, Oranga Tamariki created the Youth Justice ‘Raising the Age’ Programme of work to facilitate the following outcomes:

  1. Youth Justice placement options effectively meet the forecasted increase in demand resulting from the inclusion of some 17-year-olds in the Youth Justice system from the 1st of July, 2019.
  2. Sector capability and capacity is sufficient, and the sector is ready to meet the demand of 17year- olds in the Youth Justice system.
  3. Better outcomes for Tamariki, including well-being, early sustainable exits, and, where possible, reduce future offending and youth crime victims.  


In Aotearoa, roughly 240 reports of concern for children’s wellbeing are received every day. Oranga Tamariki is an organisation dedicated to supporting those children whose well-being is at significant risk.

In 2019, the Youth Justice system raised the youth justice age to 18. It was an adjustment made to ensure each case was handled under better suited judicial standards.

In response to this policy change, Oranga Tamariki initiated their ‘Raising the Age’ transformation work programme. This included significant financial investment in the Youth Justice infrastructure, including funding community placements and additional beds in the Youth Justice residence in Palmerston North, Te Au Rere Ki Te Tonga. There was also a significant injection into the workforce with the proposed $12.4 million roll-out in additional resources across the Youth Justice system.

Oranga Tamariki sought external leadership and capability to support the Youth Justice leadership team to drive the organisational design process and address and realise in short order the workforce opportunities that emerged from this ambitious transformation programme.


With our extensive consultation, engagement, and transformation programme experience, Oranga Tamariki chose to bring in Deep Water’s Consulting Director, Giselle Wansa-Harvey as an external leader. She was to oversee both the organisational design process and the design and national delivery of the RTA legislative training package across the system.

Working alongside the Youth Justice Leadership team, we identified solutions for the impacts that ‘Raising the Age’ would leave within their workforce. By identifying and prioritising these transitional challenges, (on time and budget), we could create a paradigm aligned with Oranga Tamariki’s business model.

With effective engagement across both the youth justice service centres and residences workforce, we reconfigured and improved the current workforce composition to plug the skills gaps and ensure youth justice system cohesiveness ensued.


By implementing our progressive techniques, focused on organisation design, co-design, strategy and communications, Oranga Tamariki received an audacious organisational design strategy. What’s more, the co-design process allowed the workforce to cross pollinate and better understand pressingly critical issues and establish confidence within their leadership team.

Altogether, our solutions enabled superintendency across the new legislative changes and triumphant implementation of the Youth Justice ‘Raising the Age’ Capability and Capacity project. The strategy’s success is in the results, including a comprehensive plan and productive management of phased recruitment to onboard approximately 143 site staff, 100 residence staff, and community-based staff.


Careful organisation of internal and external stakeholder engagement delivered the required solutions and successful results. Additionally, we designed, produced, and implemented a national roll-out for the Youth Justice Specialist learning and development packages, which ultimately ensured the ‘Raising the Age’ legislative changes were consistently and clearly communicated across the country within the required timeframes ahead of the 1st of July 2020 deadline coming to pass.