Abuse survivors failed by State and faith-based institutions; apologies and independent puretumu torowhānui scheme needed
The Abuse in Care Royal Commission notes the Government’s commitment to introduce a new, independent, survivor-focussed puretumu torowhānui system, as recommended by the Inquiry.
Commissioners welcome the Government’s intention to design the system with Māori, survivors and key communities including Pacific people and disabled people.
Commissioners will be following this work closely.
In its report, He Purapura Ora, he Māra Tipu – From Redress to Puretumu Torowhānui, the Royal Commission urged the Government to take urgent action to restore mana to survivors of abuse, by addressing the Royal Commission’s 95 recommendations in the interim report.
Royal Commission Chair Coral Shaw said: “We are indebted to the hundreds of survivors we have worked with. Their bravery has given us the tools to create this report and therefore begin the healing process. The experiences we have heard have been heart-breaking and beyond belief.”
Survivors continue to suffer as they wait for puretumu torowhānui and many have died in the meantime. They should wait no more. The time for action is now.”
The report, presented in Parliament by the Government today, is about what Aotearoa must do to put right the deep harm done to survivors, their whānau and communities through abuse in care.
The report is about the failures of State and faith-based institutions to accept, acknowledge and respond to the atrocities inflicted on survivors. Some individuals and organisations are named in our findings.
The report and recommendations address how Aotearoa can immediately begin to heal our tamariki, rangatahi and at-risk adults who have been abused in care. Māori, Pacific people, Deaf and disability communities were abused in care more than other groups.
The report’s key recommendation is the establishment of a new independent “puretumu torowhānui scheme”, to be designed by Māori and survivors.
The scheme must respond to survivors of abuse in State and faith-based care, and facilitate apologies, financial payments and access to a wide range of support services for survivors and their whānau.
Royal Commission Chair Coral Shaw said: “We recommend the scheme fits within a puretumu torowhānui system; a suite of changes to services, laws and policies to ensure fair, effective and accessible puretumu torowhānui is available to survivors of abuse in care.
“We refer to puretumu torowhānui instead of redress, to describe the wider wellbeing approach we believe is needed to put right the profound harm inflicted on survivors, whānau and communities through abuse in care. Our recommendations are about ensuring a mana enhancing approach underpins what is needed to restore the lives, oranga or wellbeing and mana of survivors and their whānau,” said Chair Shaw.
“Our report details the horrific abuse survivors suffered in State and faith-based care. Much of the abuse in care was criminal. Some of it was torture. Historically, State and faith organisations were not willing to accept the widespread abuse that could have easily been uncovered. The scale of abuse was too horrific. The costs too high. They convinced themselves there wasn’t a systemic, wide-spread problem”
Historical care and abuse data is very poor. Estimates suggest up to 250,000 children, young people and at-risk adults were abused in State and faith-based care between 1950-2019.
The Royal Commission’s interim findings confirm Māori were overrepresented in abuse in care compared to other groups. Pacific people and the Deaf and disability communities are also overrepresented in abuse in care statistics.
“The puretumu torowhānui system should be survivor-focused and trauma informed. It should be based on a series of te ao Māori, Pacific and human rights principles, values and concepts. It should co-ordinate the work of various agencies and provide a range of services to survivors and their whānau. It must be designed and delivered in partnership with Māori, through the creation of a Māori Collective. It should actively involve survivors, their whānau and supporters with the formation of a survivors collective too.”
The report also recommends the Governor-General, Prime Minister and leaders of faith-based institutions apologise for the abuse that occurred and the harm it caused.
“Spanning decades, survivors’ claims and attempts to obtain redress have been rejected, or their experiences were downplayed. Many were not believed and dismissed. Genuine and personal apologies to survivors are needed,” said Coral Shaw.
Coral Shaw said, “The Royal Commission will continue to listen to survivors to inform our inquiry. We can make further recommendations on puretumu torowhānui in our final report.
Survivors should not have to wait for a remedy for the horrors they suffered.”
She said the Royal Commission is grateful for the survivors the inquiry has been privileged to hear from so far.
“We have been privileged to hear experiences from those who have previously been voiceless.
We hope this report begins to give survivors the voice they have been denied but have always deserved.”
“We still have a huge amount of work ahead. Next year we continue to investigate using hearings, wānanga, hui, fono, in-person meetings with survivors, community engagement, research and policy analysis. We continue with report delivery and will issue independent and objective findings. Our work will continue to evolve along the way.”
The full report and recommendations can be found on the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry website.