Most survivors found it an emotional, even traumatic, experience to make a claim for redress because of the painful memories and feelings of disempowerment it brought back. Some described feeling suicidal during and after the redress process. Very few said they received adequate support through this challenging experience. For them, redress processes seemed designed almost to add to the strain they were under as they were asked again and again, often in an intrusive way by investigators and assessors, to describe the abuse they suffered.
More generally, survivors felt the institutions lacked any genuine concern for them or interest in finding out what might help them repair their lives. Rather, the institutions’ sole concern was reaching a settlement and putting the matter behind them. Jacinda Thompson said the Anglican Church offered her no counselling, and eventually she asked for it herself, by which time, she learned, the church had already provided counselling for her abuser. Joan Bellingham said she never received any support from the Ministry of Health throughout her claim, and she “constantly felt like I was battling uphill to get people to recognise me or believe what I was saying actually happened”. Robert Oakly said the Anglican Church’s initial response to his contact “didn’t accept responsibility for me and there was no further offer of support other than to pray for me. I’m a non-believer because of what they’ve done, so praying is not going to do anything”. Kathleen O’Connor said the Ministry of Social Development provided no support, and made no contact with her, during the claims process. She said six months passed and she heard nothing, which she said made her “really angry because when I first had the interview, I did feel like I was being heard and treated like a person [but] now I feel like I am just another number on the files”.
Some survivors of abuse while in Salvation Army care wanted support to continue after receiving their settlement, but this did not happen. One survivor, Mr N, said he found the whole process “a bit clinical”. At the time he made his statement to the inquiry, he had had no contact from The Salvation Army since receiving a payment. Another, Mr L, said he, too, never heard from The Salvation Army after the redress process was over and it felt like “their attitude was, ‘eh, we’ve done our bit, we’ve dealt with this fella’”.
If redress processes did provide support, it was usually limited to counselling. Some survivors found counselling an effective way to help with trauma. Not all survivors wanted counselling, especially if it was offered through a Pākehā or Palagi lens. Hone Tipene said he “will not engage with counsellors because they have nothing they can connect with me on”.
Some Māori survivors wanted support to connect or reconnect with whānau and heal in ways that reflected their cultural values. Neta Kerepeti spoke of the therapeutic value of spending time with relatives on her marae. In her view, a wider range of therapeutic services should be eligible for funding.
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