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The experiences of disabled people and people with neurodiversity highlighted in new research report

The Royal Commission has published new research that provides unique insight into the lives of people with learning disabilities and neurodiversity who experienced State or faith-based institutional care between 1950 and 1999.

Tell Me About You highlights the repeated and catastrophic failures by the State to protect disabled and neurodiverse children, young people and adults in care. 

You can read or download the report from our website. The executive summary is available in Easy Read format, NZSL and large print. A Braille version of the report will be available from next week.

The evidence of the Tell Me About You storytellers mirrors what the Royal Commission has heard throughout this Inquiry about the abuse and neglect experienced by people with disabilities and neurodiversity. 

The research was commissioned in 2020 when we recognised that we needed to offer a range of ways for people with learning disabilities and neurodiversity to share their experiences in State and faith-based care.

The Donald Beasley Institute carried out the research, using a life story approach to find out about the experiences of survivors, referred to as ‘storytellers’. For many of the report’s storytellers, this was the first time anyone had asked them about their lives. Without this report, their stories may never have been told.

The report concludes that “From survivor testimony, it is clear the systems put in place by the State to support and protect children and young people, categorically failed them - repeatedly and catastrophically – constituting systemic abuse.” 

During our inquiry we've heard from many disabled people who were subject to abuse and neglect in State and faith-based care settings.  

We have heard evidence that many families with disabled children faced a hopeless search for community-based services, an acute lack of any support for their child to be cared for within the home and felt the influence of medical professionals telling them the State institution was the best place for their disabled child and for the rest of the family.

Some disabled children and adults who were placed in large institutions stayed there for many years, and some their whole lives.   

Being put in care often meant being removed from family, segregated from community, denied culture, language, identity and whakapapa.   

Tell Me About You gives us valuable insight on the past, but we know ableism and disablism ‒ discrimination against disabled people ‒ and other attitudes identified in the report, are present in Aotearoa today. 

Our report to Government next year, will detail what we have found about the abuse and neglect of disabled people in care, and what needs to change so disabled people can thrive. 

How to get in touch with us

Call us in New Zealand on 0800 222 727 between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday, or text 8185.

Call us from Australia on free phone 1800 875 745.

Email us at contact@abuseincare.org.nz.

Write to us at PO Box 10071, Wellington 6140.

Visit our website www.abuseincare.org.nz.

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