A persistent theme among survivors was the length of time it took some government agencies and faith-based institutions to make a decision about their claim. Survivors could wait a year or more just to receive records of their time in care, followed by several more years before an investigation got under way or was completed.
Toni Jarvis waited 17 years to receive his settlement offer, and others waited for more than a decade. Wiremu Waikari described his 12-year wait as unreasonable, while Kerry Johnson said he had been waiting 15 years and his claim was still not settled. He said it seemed to him “the Government just wants to sweep this all under the carpet”.
The Ministry of Social Development said the average length of time to process a claim was four years, a performance it acknowledged was not good enough. The Ministry of Education said claims typically took more than two years to process, and in fact had only processed 46 claims in a 10 year period.
Survivors said the deadlines agencies gave them often shifted. Kathleen O’Connor said the Ministry of Social Development would push out the date every time she made contact, which made her angry because “they were constantly putting the buck on someone else. There was always a reason: they were snowed under, they had a backlog, they didn’t have enough staff”. Phillipa Wilson had the same experience with the ministry. She was initially told her claim would take about eight months, then 18 months because it was short of staff, then eventually three to four years.
Delays are also less common but also present with some faith-based organisations. Ms K said she asked the Catholic Church for help before the criminal trials of the two former Marist Brothers who had abused her and received a reply a year later. Mary Marshall’s claim for redress left her shattered because it continually triggered memories of her abuse and the physical terror that accompanied it.
The long delays left many survivors at the end of their tethers and under pressure to accept an offer simply to put an end to the delays and move on with their lives. Chassy Duncan, who made a claim in 2014 and received an offer six years later, said he accepted it so he could put the claims process behind him. He knew the offer wasn’t as good as it could be, but after a lot of thought took it anyway.
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