Many survivors reported abuse with the expectation that institutions or State agencies would take action to prevent other children or young people from being similarly abused. This can be achieved by addressing the danger of known individual perpetrators and by making changes to abusive systems. Survivors saw such preventive steps as an integral part of full and proper redress. Māori survivors, in particular, continue to see the presence of the State in the lives of their whānau, and remain concerned about the risk of harm to those currently in care.
Some disabled survivors also continue to have a troubled relationship with the State and State authorities. For example, we have heard that even when the large psychopaedic institutions shut down, many residents with learning disability were transferred to other full-time care settings. There is concern that abuse may still continue in those settings today. Many disabled and Deaf people continue to have to navigate government-operated disability support services which may be run by the same District Health Boards or government department that was responsible for their historic abuse and may be responsible for abuse they still experience today.
“We need to learn how to stop the damage before it happens … We must change the way we think about support and the way we provide support as a country or nothing will change. In another twenty years’ time, we will be having the same Commission.”
Survivors identified very few instances in which institutions had taken preventive action of any sort in response to their reports of abuse or claims for redress. Quite the opposite. They found that churches and schools left perpetrators in positions where they could continue to abuse.
Ms C said the Anglican Church continued to protect and support the vicar who abused her, and knew he had gone on to abuse other children. She said she was “horrified” at the lack of responsibility by church leaders, given their undoubted awareness that one of their own was a sexual offender. One anonymous survivor said the Catholic Church moved child-sex abusers around the country and overseas in a blatant act of self-interest and ahead of “the interests, wellbeing and security of our children, our communities and the laws of our land”. Tamzin Ford said the man who sexually assaulted her was ordained a priest three years later by the Wellington Anglican Diocese. She felt “disgusted and worried” for other girls he would come into contact with, and also felt let down that “so many people knew about what he had done but still thought it was okay to make him a priest”.
Survivors often felt that if their abuser had been dealt with appropriately at the time, the abuse of other children would have been prevented. One survivor, Mr F, who was abused while in the care of the Marist Fathers (and whose son was abused by a Marist brother), felt he received no assurance that the church would take steps to prevent other children from being abused. He said he had “found no evidence of action or commitment from the church to prevent it happening to others, which I had hoped for when I reported the abuse to the church”.
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