Survivors with physical or learning disability face additional hurdles to getting redress, whether as a result of communication difficulties, a lack of support or a lack of awareness about what abuse was or that redress was available. Several disabled survivors said that for a long time they had not even known that neglect, violence and other forms of harm counted as abuse. Others had not known what redress was or what treatment qualified for redress. Deaf survivor Jarrod Burrell said he had “never heard of redress. No one has ever explained what redress is, let alone that it as an option for survivors of abuse like me”. He also said he was unaware of any information about redress in New Zealand Sign Language or any attempt to promote such information.
Many disabled survivors who are aware of redress processes might find it difficult to know how to make a claim, according to survivor and disability rights activist, Sir Robert Martin. One survivor with autism explained that pursuing a claim with the Ministry of Health was completely unattainable for them:
“Here’s a systemic issue. I actually can’t. Like this is, I literally, I would find it too difficult.”
In addition to the challenges faced by all survivors, disabled survivors also felt that redress processes were not created in consultation with disabled people, or even with disabled people in mind. Some couldn’t get hold of or understand information about their time in care. Most, including those who still rely on disability support services, lacked the necessary autonomy, support and safeguards required to make decisions about getting redress. Survivors said the advocacy or help necessary to overcome these barriers was generally unavailable. New Zealand Sign Language interpreters were in very short supply, as were legal and other services with the skills and training required to work effectively with disabled survivors.
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