These are questions received directly from survivors and the answers are shared for everyone.
We anticipate engaging over several thousand survivors through the life of the Inquiry and conducting over 2,800 private sessions. Private sessions assist with healing and in the development of our findings and recommendations.
When survivors register with the Royal Commission, part of the registration process is discussing with them how they wish to participate in the inquiry:
For survivors wanting to progress with a private session, they receive a pack that includes how the information may be used, and what wellbeing and legal support is available. This is followed up by discussions between a member of our Survivor Accounts team and the survivor.
We analyse themes from private sessions which influences our investigations and therefore public hearing topics.
We anticipate conducting up to 20 investigations during the Inquiry although not simultaneously. Each investigation is effectively an Inquiry in its own right, although we understand where survivor experiences intersect and aim to reflect this across all investigations. We are currently running eight concurrent investigations, the details of which are published on our website.
A public hearing is only a small part of a wider investigation examining a theme or particular institution. We only engage a small number of survivors, in the form of witnesses, to share their experience at a public hearing. You will no doubt appreciate it will not be possible to have the thousands of survivors who will engage with the Royal Commission over the next few years feature as witnesses in our hearings.
All accounts of abuse provided are valuable and contribute to the picture we’re building up. The experiences of all survivors who participate in the Inquiry (through private sessions, providing written accounts, sharing important information with Commissioners and others), are, and will continue to be, analysed to identify themes and systemic issues that are relevant to our findings and recommendations.
Yes, the Royal Commission is following the same approach as the Australian inquiry. In the State Redress hearing we are requiring representatives from the relevant state agencies to appear for questioning and in one case we have insisted on one particular state witness attending to answer the Commission’s questions. We will continue with this approach with faith-based institutions to ensure the right people can be called to account.
We acknowledge that survivors may suffer a level of trauma and anxiety around the hearings, especially if they are unsure if they will be participating. This may include survivors who have not yet interacted with us. For this reason, we are ensuring our wellbeing teams have extra capacity during hearings, so anyone can contact us, or their existing wellbeing support networks, and receive support.
Wellbeing support, including counselling, is offered to all survivors and participants who engage with the Royal Commission. For those survivors undertaking a private session with Commissioners, support is offered before, during and after the session. We have heard from survivors that this wellbeing is effective and valuable to their healing process. We work with survivors to put together a ‘package of care’ to suit their needs and values. This could include paying for support already in place or arranging additional support.
In short, no. If you want or need legal help to prepare a written statement or submission, lawyers provided by the Royal Commission can help with this. They can also assist if you are asked by the Commission to be a witness and give oral evidence at a public hearing. Further information is available on our website.
However, lawyers provided by the Inquiry are not able to help you with a civil claim or a criminal case.
Allegations of abuse and neglect at Gloriavale are within our scope and we are beginning to gather evidence about what has happened there. We have met with representatives of the Gloriavale Leavers’ Support Trust.
Gloriavale does not come within the investigations into faith-based institutions that have been established to date (Catholic Church and Anglican Church). However, other investigations into faith-based institutions may be set up, as the Inquiry progresses.
Oranga Tamariki has a complaints process (and online form) on their website: https://www.orangatamariki.govt.nz/about-us/contact-us/feedback/
If you prefer not to use the online form, you can phone 0508 326 459
If you are worried about the safety and wellbeing of a child or young person, please use the phone number above or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If after talking to Oranga Tamariki you feel your concern is still unresolved, staff will talk to you about what else can be done.
Find out more about the Abuse in Care Inquiry in these Frequently Asked Questions.
These questions relate to the Interim report.
The reports are available online in various formats at the Royal Commission website. A limited number of printed copies of the Interim Report are available.
The delivery of an Interim Report to the Government by 28 December 2020 is specified in the Royal Commission’s terms of reference.
Volume One outlines the Royal Commission’s work to date and how we have approached it and analyses the key themes and common issues from the experiences shared with us by survivors and witnesses
Volume Two is devoted to the voices of survivors. It shares the authentic stories and experiences of survivors from their hearts and minds.
The Report has made several findings across a range of areas. These include:
The Report is now in the public arena and anyone can access and read it. It is for the Government to determine how they respond to the Report.
The Interim Report describes the key themes and common issues from the experiences shared with us by survivors and witnesses. A final report will be delivered at the end of the Inquiry and it can be expected to contain recommendations based on the evidence heard from witnesses, information gathered, and themes identified over the whole period of the Inquiry.
Support is available. Our Contact Centre 0800 222 727 (weekdays 8am-6pm) is prepared and staffed to answer questions and direct survivors to appropriate support as needed.
Dedicated survivor wellbeing support, including counselling and psychological support, etc is available from our Survivor Wellbeing team for survivors who need it.
The inquiry faces the complex and difficult task of estimating the numbers of people who have been in care in the numerous settings in the terms of reference. The relevant time period spans a broad swathe of the country’s history from 1950s post-War New Zealand through to 1999 and beyond. The settings where people received care are equally diverse. They range from places such as police cells, normally experienced for short periods of time, through to institutional and community-based care where some people have spent their entire lives. As well as the more well-known categories of direct State care, our settings include indirect State care that may have been contracted out to non-government entities, and faith-based care, which extends beyond organised religion to any group connected by a spiritual belief system.
There has never been a comprehensive census or count of people in these numerous settings. In some cases, records were not kept at all or have been lost, and even where there are records it is often difficult or impossible to trace an individual’s path through multiple care settings over time. Records of the demographic status (particularly ethnicity) of those in care are equally variable, sometimes non-existent and frequently poor for most of the time period under review. Records of disability status are no better and often worse, despite the very significant numbers of disabled people in care throughout the period. Given what we know about the under-reporting of abuse, it is likely that only a small proportion of such abuse and neglect has been reported over the time-period; let alone collated and properly recorded. The records of reported abuse and neglect are also patchy.
This is the best estimate of the number of people who went through care and how many of those that were abused from the available records and other national and international date about abuse.
The report's primary methodology uses the top-down approach. This shows that from 1950 to 2019 there were between 114,000 and 256,000 people who may have been abused while in State and faith-based care, or between 17 and 39 percent of the cohort. The top-down estimates cover a range of the types of abuse suffered by the survivors, from sexual and physical abuse to maltreatment and neglect.
An estimate of the rate of abuse has been calculated, based mainly on international evidence, and this rate has been assumed to be constant over time.
However, because it is likely that the number of people we have counted across the settings are likely to be understated – the number of people abused will also be understated.
The bottom-up approach is drawn from actual claims of abuse. The report indicates that from data provided to date by State agencies and faith-based institutions, a total of around 6,500 people who are known to have made claims of abuse while in State and faith-based care. Using unreported-crime multipliers developed from New Zealand and international crime surveys, we estimate that between 5.6 and 10 times this number may have been abused in care, or about 36,000 to 65,000 people between 1950 and 2019. This is between 5.5 and 9.9 percent of the total cohort in care, after adjusting for the overlap between settings.
As of today, we have 2411 number of people registered with the Inquiry, of which just over 2000 are survivors. While this is low compared to the estimated cohort of those abused in care, we expect these numbers to substantially increase over time with our targeted community engagement and outreach, and the increased publicity and resulting public awareness at the times of our public hearings.
Poor historical records mean the Royal Commission is working to address these key gaps. We are undertaking more detailed research on the abuse of Māori, Pacific and disabled people. Our investigations will be a vehicle to better understand the experiences and prevalence of abuse for these populations.
Given the collection of data has been poor for specific communities, it is more important than ever that that we hear from as many survivors as possible to fill in those gaps.
We encourage all those who were abused in care to share their experiences with the Royal Commission so we can understand what happened to them to prevent it happening to others in the future.
There are many ways in which you can share your experience. At a private session, in person or by video call, as a witness in a public hearing, by providing a written account or witness statement, or attending a roundtable or hui in your local community.
Absolutely. We want to hear from as many people as possible who were abused in State or faith-based care between 1950 and 1999, or outside these dates. The abuse that survivors suffered can be physical, sexual, emotional or psychological. Neglect is also abuse under our Terms of Reference. Abuse and neglect may have occurred in many different care settings, including:
The most common way for survivors to tell their story is through a private session with a Commissioner. To have a private session you must first register with the Inquiry. You can do this by:
Yes you can do this in a private session. Please contact us on 0800 222 727 to register with the Inquiry.
You can write to us telling us what happened to you. We will soon have guidance and a form on our website which will help you to do this. If you wish to write to us before the guidance is available, please do so. You can write to us at PO Box 10071, The Terrace, Wellington 6143.
We will soon be taking general submissions from interested parties. In the meantime please call us on 0800 222 727 or email us at email@example.com to discuss.
You do not need a lawyer to participate in the Inquiry. You can participate in a private session or write about your experience without a lawyer. It is entirely up to you. Legal assistance is available to people in some in specific situations. If you wish to discuss your eligibility for legal assistance please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Firstly our contact centre staff will determine where you live and what is most convenient for you. Our commissioners travel all over the country to listen to survivors. When they are near to where you live we may contact you to arrange a suitable time for your session. Once it is confirmed we will send you an information pack with the time, date and venue of your private session. We can also help arrange transport if needed.
Yes. You can ask for support at any stage of your engagement with us. We can provide support before, during and after a private session or any other time you engage with us. We will work with you to put together support and counselling that meets your needs and values. Support is provided by registered mental health professionals or approved providers. Speak to our staff about your needs.
Yes you can. Survivors in prison can contact the Inquiry on 0800 222 727. This number has been approved by Corrections as an unmonitored number and calls to the Inquiry will not be recorded. You can also write to us or a family member can contact the Inquiry on your behalf. Our Commissioners can visit you in prison to conduct your private session.
Wherever possible and appropriate, we also use modern technology to communicate with survivors and others based overseas. We may also hold private sessions in Australia in the future. Please call our contact centre to discuss this. In Australia you can call us on 1 800 875 745.
You may be invited to appear at a public hearing to share your story.
Yes. Our hearings are open to the public. They are also livestreamed on our website.