Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Call for access to justice for suicide bereaved families


The legal system is stacked against bereaved families and whānau.

Currently our family is facing a 5-7 working day inquest into Ross Taylor’s cause of death and the circumstances leading up to it more than six years after he died. Legal fees for this alone would cripple most families. There is also the ongoing legal legwork that needs to be completed to a professional standard before the inquest and most families are unable to do this without legal counsel. Should we decide to represent ourselves we would most certainly be at a disadvantage and most likely lose our case as we face the SDHB and psychiatrist’s Barristers who are well skilled in this area. DHBs have unlimited access to public funding for the best legal teams and experts. We do not qualify for legal aid.

At a time when they are grieving and at their most vulnerable, families face complex and demanding funding application processes. Some are lucky to get legal aid, but many do not and face the legal system without support or face paying large sums towards legal costs, alongside often enduring lengthy delays which cause distress. Some are forced to represent themselves while others simply give up as it is just too hard. Whether it is the death of a child in a mental health setting, the self-inflicted death of a prisoner, or a death as a result of neglectful state services, families experience a profound, yet unnecessary, injustice.

The Ministry of Justice spend on legal representation for people who have committed crimes. Suicide bereaved families and whānau in contrast do not get any free legal support when making complaints to HDC or when facing coroner’s inquests or papers done in chambers.

Without funded representation, families are denied their voice and meaningful participation in the processes of investigation, learning and accountability. This is not what justice looks like.
There needs to be a system which treats bereaved families and whānau with dignity and respect and supports them in navigating the legal process following a death and to achieve the truth. Bereaved families and whanau need to have better access to justice.

There are many more families and whānau just like us who face the legal system without support and lengthy delays which causes distress. More coroners need to be appointed to ensure no family waits more than two years for completion of their case. The Coroners Act allows for up to 20 full-time coroners. Only 17 are presently employed, plus a temporary replacement for Coroner Christopher Devonport, who died in January 2019.

This inequality of arms is an unacceptable curtailing of justice, undermining the preventative potential of inquests, to interrogate the facts and ensure harmful practices are brought to light. Inquests following state related deaths are intended to seek the truth, to expose unsafe practices and abuses of state power. But the reality faced by most families is of multiple expert legal teams defending the interests and reputations of state and corporate bodies - fighting to shut down or narrow lines of enquiry, with a primary focus on damage limitation.

More than any other party, the overriding objective of bereaved families and whānau is to bring about changes to prevent future deaths, to stop others going through what they have faced. Our public interest is served by their actions and the changes they bring about. And yet they alone are forced to fight for funding.

This unfair balance is the most significant injustice in the coronial system. Funding reform is urgently needed and we are calling for change.

What we are calling for:
1. The ministry of Justice needs to appoint more coroners so that the backlog can be cleared and so that families and whānau do not have to wait in excess of two years for coroner’s inquests or hearings on papers. Some families and whānau are waiting for more than 6 years. It is traumatising to wait that long without any support offered.

2. The ministry of Justice needs to introduce free and fair legal representation for all suicide bereaved families and whānau to ensure a level playing field at inquests and other investigations such as HRRT and HDC.

3. Automatic non means tested legal funding to families for specialist legal representation and expert witnesses immediately following a state related death to cover preparation and representation at the inquest and other legal processes.

4. Funding equivalent to that enjoyed by state bodies/public authorities and corporate bodies represented.

Please sign this petition and share widely for justice for all families and whānau who are bereaved by suicide.

Kind regards
Corinda Taylor


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Allegations Of Left Wing Media Bias

“Left wing bias” accusations date back at least to the mid 1990s, when complaints were commonly being levelled at RNZ’s Morning Report programme, largely by National MPs discomfited by being interviewed by Kim Hill.

The charge of left wing bias was ridiculous then, and is ridiculous now. More>>


Next Wave Of Reforms: Gun Registration And Licensing Changes Announced

“The Bill includes a register to track firearms and new offences and penalties that can be applied extraterritorially for illegal manufacture, trafficking, and for falsifying, removing, or altering markings – which are a new requirement under the Firearms Protocol.” More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Labour’s Mishandling Of The Alleged Sexual Assault

The focus of Labour’s alleged sexual assault scandal has now shifted from the party organisation to the Beehive... This is now a crisis of Beehive management and response, not something occurring at a distance within the party organisation. More>>


'History Rectified': Rua Kēnana To Be Pardoned

An official pardon for Tūhoe prophet and leader Rua Kēnana is one step closer after the Te Pire kia Unuhia te Hara kai Runga i a Rua Kēnana: Rua Kēnana Pardon Bill was read in Parliament for the first time today. More>>


Mental Health: Initial Mental Health And Wellbeing Commission Appointed

The Government has announced details of the initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission which will play a key role in driving better mental health in New Zealand. More>>


people outside the meeting house at WaitangiEducation: NZ History To Be Taught In All Schools

“We have listened carefully to the growing calls from New Zealanders to know more about our own history and identity. With this in mind it makes sense for the National Curriculum to make clear the expectation that our history is part of the local curriculum and marau ā kura in every school and kura,” Jacinda Ardern said. More>>


Sexual Assault Claims Mishandled: Labour Party President Resigns

Jacinda Ardern: “This morning I was provided some of the correspondence from complainants written to the party several months ago. It confirms that the allegations made were extremely serious, that the process caused complainants additional distress, and that ultimately, in my view, the party was never equipped to appropriately deal with the issue…" More>>


Budget Process: Wellbeing To Be Enshrined In Law

Legislation has been introduced in Parliament to ensure every Government considers the wellbeing of New Zealanders when creating future budgets. More>>

National In China: Bridges Praises CCP, Meets Law Enforcement Head

A recent trip to China has raised questions over who the Opposition leader Simon Bridges met with and why... Anne-Marie Brady, a Canterbury University professor and expert on Chinese politics, has described Guo Shengkun as the leader of the Chinese secret police. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The SIS/GCSB’s Compliance With Torture

Torture is a crime under international law. New Zealand has signed (a) the UN convention against torture and (b) formal agreements about how armed conflict should be conducted. That’s the legal backdrop to the fascinating report released this week by the SIS Inspector-General.





InfoPages News Channels