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Royal Commission on State Historical Abuse is Non-Negotiable

Care Leavers assert that holding a Royal Commission into State Historical Abuse is Non-Negotiable

CLAN NZ is concerned that the Government's promised inquiry into state abuse is a bit of a fob-off.

At no point so far has the Government referred to it as a ‘Royal Commission of Inquiry’ - rather they have used the term ‘Ministerial Inquiry’.

What we and all other New Zealand Care Leavers have always called for was a truly independent public inquiry in the form of a Royal Commission.

The main distinction between the two is that a Royal Commission of Inquiry (a type of Public Inquiry), being more formal in creation - is usually established to consider more important and national issues than fall to a Ministerial Inquiry (a type of Government Inquiry). A Royal Commission is the most serious response to an issue available to the New Zealand Government. Royal Commissions investigate matters of great importance and difficulty.

So what message is the New Zealand Government giving us when they refer to this inquiry as a 'Ministerial Inquiry into State abuse'? Surely not that they consider this to be an unimportant or trivial matter?

CLAN NZ is aghast that a Ministerial Inquiry would be controlled and overseen by politicians, as, for many Care Leavers, that means the Government (which has been a major player in the abuse of New Zealand children) investigating itself. Therefore, an independent inquiry free of the Government, in the form of a full Royal Commission, would be the only acceptable option in these circumstances.

This inquiry must be fully transparent, with full powers, including making referrals to the Police. It must have the authority to determine redress, rehabilitation and reparations for victims, including an apology from the State.

It must be able to compel witnesses and access unredacted documents, it must not have cut-off dates and it must deal with structural changes to our systems.

It must include all forms of abuse and not just sexual (a big mistake made by the Australian Royal Commission, which excluded many thousands of Australian survivors). We cannot let this happen in New Zealand or most former wards of the State will be excluded.

And it needs to cover all forms of 'out-of-home care' - not just State care - it has to include homes run by churches, charities & also foster care.

But it does not need to be as broad as including scouts, dance classes & swimming clubs etc. Those children were not 'in care' (this was another big mistake made by the Australian Royal Commission)

The New Zealand Human Rights Commission is currently asking for input from Care Leavers who were in NZ 'care' as children (no matter where they live now). They want feedback to take to the Government on what the inquiry should cover and what it should do. Email info@hrc.co.nz with the Subject Line: "Independent Inquiry into State Abuse".

NZ – let’s do it once and do it right!

CLAN NZ (clan.nz@actrix.co.nz) is the only independent support and advocacy group in Aotearoa/New Zealand, working for justice and redress for all New Zealanders who grew up in injurious care institutions - such as orphanages, children’s homes, special live-in schools, psychiatric hospitals etc - as State wards, welfare children or in foster care - or in any other form of what is now known as ‘out-of-home-care’. www.CLAN.org.au


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