As part of the investigation into abuse in psychiatric care, the Inquiry will investigate what occurred at the Child and Adolescent Unit at Lake Alice Psychiatric Hospital in the 1970s.

We will investigate what happened to children and young people at the Unit, and why it happened. We will investigate what the Government, Police and professional bodies did to prevent and respond to abuse of children and adolescents in the Unit.

We will examine issues such as the adequacy of training and supervision of Lake Alice staff, the discipline and complaint procedures, as well as the level of personal and professional support provided to staff by the Unit’s management.

This will be the first comprehensive investigation into the Child and Adolescent Unit at Lake Alice. The Royal Commission has the unique authority to independently investigate and address the issues and allegations that have persisted for decades and caused significant distress, despite previous inquiries and investigations.

The Royal Commission recognises that many survivors of Lake Alice have long called for investigation of their complaints and for accountability through the criminal justice system and elsewhere. Among other things, the upcoming hearing will consider the extent to which complaints made about Lake Alice were dealt with appropriately, whether by the Police or professional bodies.

This case study will have a public hearing from 14 to 25 June. The scope of the Lake Alice case study can be read here.

How to participate

Former patients and staff of the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit and their families and whānau may have important information that will help the Inquiry investigate what happened and why. Sharing your experiences with us, as well as documents from that time such as diaries or journal entries, photos, letters or medical documents, will help the Inquiry make findings about what happened, and appropriate recommendations for change.

If you have information you want to share about abuse suffered at Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit then please contact us. You can call us confidentially on 0800 222 727 or register register online.

Legal assistance for Lake Alice survivors and witnesses

Victims, survivors and witnesses to abuse at the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit who want to tell their story are invited to contact the Inquiry’s investigation team directly to share their experiences.  We recognise however that some people may prefer legal assistance to help them to participate in this investigation.

If you are a victim or survivor of abuse at the Child and Adolescent Unit and want legal representation to participate, you can join a group of survivors who will be represented during the investigation by Frances Joychild QC. The Royal Commission has appointed Ms Joychild to independently represent the interests of victims and survivors of abuse who seek legal representation, without cost. Ms Joychild’s bio and contact details can be found below.

If you are a former Lake Alice staff member or witnessed abuse at Lake Alice and you would like legal assistance and representation to participate in the Inquiry, you can apply for legal assistance funding and nominate a lawyer to act for you. Details of how to apply for legal assistance can be found here.

Frances Joychild QC is a barrister who specialises in human rights and public law. She is experienced in acting for groups in lengthy cases against government agencies. For example, Frances acted for the Atkinson parents and adult children with disabilities against the Ministry of Health in the claim for payment of family caregivers, and for the Child Poverty Action Group against the Inland Revenue Department relating to tax credits to alleviate child poverty. More recently she acted for seven men who alleged abuse as children in State care at a private care facility. Frances is very experienced assisting clients who have been traumatised by child and adult experiences and her practice has always included acting for sexual abuse and harassment survivors, beneficiaries in poverty struggling with the Ministry of Social Development, and refugees.

Frances Joychild is lead counsel in a team of three who will be representing the legal interests of the survivors of Lake Alice and other psychiatric institutions before the Royal Commission. Frances is a Queens Counsel practising as a barrister across New Zealand with a background in human rights law and a focus on those who have been wronged by the system.  The other team members are Alana Thomas and Tracey Hu. 

Alana Thomas is senior barrister in Kaupare Law and works mostly in the area of Treaty of Waitangi claims. Alana assists Frances with survivors and preparing their statements. 

Tracey Hu is an intermediate solicitor who works for the law firm Lee Salmond Long doing general civil work. Tracey will assist Frances in research and managing document systems. 

Both Alana and Tracey will at times each work in either role. 

Frances Joychild QC can be contacted directly in the following ways:

Phone: 027 4234 007

Email: frances@francesjoychildqc.co.nz

Office: Level 7, 20 Waterloo Quadrant, Auckland

Mail: PO Box 47 947, Ponsonby 1144, Auckland

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