Survivors given option to provide accounts of historical abuse in writing

By Jessica Tyson

The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry has unveiled the option for people to provide accounts of abuse or neglect in writing, in response to requests from survivors to do so.

The purpose of the inquiry is to look into what happened to children, young people and vulnerable adults in state care and the care of faith-based institutions between the years 1950 and 1999.

Through hearing from survivors, evidence and research, the enquiry will make recommendations to the Governor-General on how New Zealand can better care for children, young people and vulnerable adults.

Inquiry Chair Coral Shaw said the Royal Commission is attempting to give survivors as many practical options as possible to engage with the Inquiry in ways that suit them.

“We want to hear from as many survivors as possible, and some survivors tell us they would prefer to write to us,” says Shaw.

“The ability to provide written accounts will be a better option for those survivors who wish to write their stories in their own time.”

Māori in State care

Shaw says Māori are 15 to 16 per cent of the New Zealand population and yet, at any given time, have made up more than 60 per cent of children in care.

“Of the Māori survivors of abuse in care we have spoken with so far, we hear of hideous abuse and neglect, a loss of identification and personal connections to their iwi and hapu, she says.

“If we are to stop the abuse and neglect of our Māori babies and young people in care, we have to find Māori solutions."

COVID-19

Also, the ability for survivors to engage with the Commission in writing is more important than ever due to the current physical restrictions imposed around COVID-19, says Shaw.

“The same wellbeing support and legal assistance options are available to those who choose to provide written accounts and guidance is provided about what information we are looking for.”

As with private sessions and public hearings, information gathered through written accounts will inform the reports the Inquiry produces and its recommendations for change.

With the consent of survivors, relevant information about cases of abuse and abusers will be passed to the Police.

To find out more information about providing a written account, legal assistance and wellbeing support, survivors are encouraged to contact the Inquiry here.