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NZ needs to confront its legacy of abuse and neglect

Media Release

2 August 2017

New Zealand needs to confront its legacy of abuse and neglect towards people with learning disabilities.

CCS Disability Action welcomes the Disability Rights Commissioner, Paul Gibson, releasing a report into the abuse people with learning disabilities experienced in institutions. CCS Disability Action supports calls from the Human Rights Commission and People First New Zealand Ngā Tāngata Tuatahi for an inquiry and an apology.

David Matthews, Chief Executive of CCS Disability Action said that his organisation is staunch about the dangers of institutions.

“Disabled people need to live in the community alongside their non-disabled peers. We know institutions dehumanise people and leave them vulnerable to abuse. In an institution all the power is in the hands of professionals. When people live in their own homes and have control over their supports, their risk of abuse and neglect decreases.”

Mr Matthews said an inquiry and apology was important because whole generations of disabled people had grown up in institutions.

“Institutions have left scars on the disability community. Whole generations of disabled people have suffered abuse and neglect from the state. We need to confront that and own up to the mistakes of the past. Our organisation has supported institutions in the past and that is something we now regret and apologise for. We call on the government to do the same.”

Mr Matthews acknowledged the important role of the outgoing Disability Rights Commissioner, Paul Gibson, in keeping this debate alive.

“I warmly thank Paul for his service as Disability Rights Commissioner and for keeping this debate going. He will be missed in his role as Disability Rights Commissioner, but I am sure he will continue to contribute to the disability community and this debate. We now hope that the Government will show leadership and announce a full inquiry and apology.”

If this media release has raised any issues, which you have found distressing, you can call:

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Need to talk? Call or text 1737

Healthline – 0800 611 116

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

There is also this booklet available about where to go for help if you concerned about possible abuse or neglect:



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