The Network of Survivors of Abuse in Faith-based Institutions told us that survivors will seldom use the term “redress”, but when survivors call for “justice”, “acknowledgement”, “an apology”, “making sure the abuse stops and what happened to them does not happen to others” and “compensation”, they are calling for redress. Many have shared with us the measures they would like to see to restore their lives, their mana, and the mana of the whānau, hapū, iwi and hapori, or communities.
Many told us that monetary payments alone were not enough to meet their needs or restore their lives. On the contrary, when agencies provided monetary payments without meaningful effort to support reconciliation or healing, this could lead them to feeling dismissed and re-traumatised.
Many survivors want to see justice and accountability in the form of apologies for, and other public acknowledgement of, the immense harm that was done to children and young people in State and faith-based care. Almost all survivors emphasised the need to ensure that what happened to them did not happen to any others. This was the most important part of seeking justice for some survivors.
“I wanted to do all I could to prevent other young girls experiencing sexual abuse.”
Many want measures to suit their individual needs, to help address the harms they have suffered, including connection and reconnection with their culture and whakapapa, counselling, psychological care, medical treatment, and assistance with housing and education.
As one survivor explained:
“Redress means many different things to different people. For me, redress is about restoring the wellbeing of those people affected. This means their health and their broader needs: things like counselling, education, housing etc. An overall package needs to be developed to look at the wellbeing of those historical victims. The package could include mechanisms for accessing personal records, and access to restorative justice-type processes.”
Survivor Mary Marshall told us:
“Survivors are individuals not a mass, faceless lump of victimised humanity to be fobbed off with a generalised paltry amount of money, coupled with an apology for damages incurred ... There can be no one-size-fits-all branding of survivors, we are individuals and each survivor has experienced suffering in all forms – mental, physical, cultural, social etc.”
Another survivor shared his vision with us:
“A wraparound approach would be far more helpful for me. For myself, financial compensation so I can have my own home. Treatment for my ADHD. A life coach who could assist me with … getting an education so I can have a fair go at getting a job … An apology is important, but not just a “sorry”, also an acknowledgment that the failures made by the Church and the State when they were looking after me led to drastic consequences that affected me and others my whole life. The system that was supposed to protect me and nurture me into a constructive citizen of society, failed me in so many areas. It needs to take responsibility for its part in making my life so disastrous.”
Similarly, Anne Hill told us that she and other survivors needed “wraparound support for life”, reflecting the fact that “our childhoods were taken [and] we must live out our adult lives without achieving our full potential”.
On the other hand, financial compensation is still a very important part of redress for many survivors who are struggling to support themselves and their whānau:
“I feel very passionate about survivors being compensated for what they endured in State care ... although no amount of money will ever erase what has occurred to survivors it helps a little.”
One survivor said:
“To be honest ain’t nothing gonna change what happen to me. However, being offered a substantial amount of money and services, will help to move on, financial stability of a sum of money would help me so much.”
Another survivor told us that she wanted:
“[an] apology from them ... But a sincere one ... A real sincere one. And … I don’t know if it sounds selfish but money, money for our struggle ... ‘Cause we’ve struggled so much and I’m still struggling.”
For many survivors, the most important thing is to see system change, to ensure that abuse will not happen to others in the future:
“So as a mōrehu [survivor] you want me to tell you my story and you want me to heal myself, and really the question is, isn’t [it] the system that needs to be healed?”
Several survivors said there should be independent processes for receiving and responding to allegations of abuse, so institutions could not hide or minimise what had occurred. Frances Tagaloa said it should be mandatory for allegations of abuse in care to be reported to an independent authority for this reason.
A common theme among survivors was that they lacked confidence in institutions to prevent abuse of other children or vulnerable people. This reflected their past experiences of abusers being protected even after the abuse was disclosed.
Significantly for moving forward, many survivors have told us that they want to be involved in the design of any redress processes, to ensure that those processes are appropriate for their cultural and individual needs.
Survivors told us they want any new redress scheme to be responsive and transparent, and to take a person-centred and whānau-centred approach aimed at restoring lives so far as that is possible.
“We’re people, not problems to be dealt with as if we’re on a conveyor belt. Pay us off, problem solved, pay us off, problem solved. Effective redress should mean so much more than a cash payment.”
Next: The redress roundtable