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The NZ Government: Make the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service Findings Publicly Available

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Petition on Behalf of New Zealand's Institutional Historic Abuse Survivors

Our Pasts Buried, Our Histories Forgotten: The New Zealand Government and the Hidden Institutional Child Abuse Inquiry

In July of 2015, a journalist from the Dominion Post, Stacey Kirk, released Official Information Act (OIA) material, surrounding the historic claims and the then newly announced Fast Track scheme for resolving claims of historic abuse against the State.  These documents showed that the New Zealand National Government identified the potential for a public inquiry into institutional child abuse as a risk with the potential for them to lose control of a process they had worked hard to tightly contain.

Among the risks the documents specified were: “loss of confidence and trust in the process of resolving claims of abuse; the potential of a renewed call for a public enquiry into historic claims; claimants looking to the courts for resolution… or an alternative process being called for either by the courts or through public opinion and pressure”.

None of this was too surprising! It was, after all, the Government of NZ who was largely responsible for child abuse that had occurred historically in institutional care. It was also that Government that had the power to approve or deny a public inquiry that would undoubtedly expose historic systemic failings, along with a litany of cover-ups’. It was also the Government that would ultimately be responsible, politically and financially for these failings.Not too surprisingly, much like the Catholic Church has done in Australia and elsewhere, the OIA clearly demonstrated the Government’s (the guilty party’s) intent to contain the facts of historic child abuse in its institutions.

 

Petition Scope/Terms

1)     This petition calls on the New Zealand Government to make available to the public through press and other channels (e.g. NGOs, community and government child protection services) the stories from the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (with victim names edited)  

2)     This petition calls on the New Zealand Government to make available to the public through press and other channels (e.g. NGOs, community and government child protection services) any and all findings and/or recommendations handed down by the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service to the Ministry of Social Development, Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Justice or any other NZ Government body.

3)     We would further ask that institution names and the years in which the abuse occurred remain unedited.

4)     We would further ask that where the release of the names of perpetrators does not violate the Privacy Act (e.g. where perpetrators are now deceased) that perpetrator names should remain unedited.

Summary/Background of Petition

1)      The New Zealand Government has held a historic institutional child abuse inquiry – the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service - where 1158 victim stories have been heard. The inquiry has cost the New Zealand tax payer over eight million dollars.

2)      The inquiry is/was only semi-independent of government and it is expressly forbidden from making public or ministerial comment. This has resulted in the information from the inquiry, for all intents and purposes, being suppressed by government.  

3)      This outcome, at great expense to the New Zealand tax payer, is perhaps not too surprising. In the vast majority of cases the historic institutional child abuse stories listened to by the inquiry occurred in New Zealand State (government) run institutions.

4)      By June 2014, 908 stories had been heard; 509 people claimed to have suffered sexual abuse under state care and 649 alleged emotional or physical abuse. 75 per cent were in child welfare at the time, with the rest in health camps, psychiatric care or education residences.  241 have been to prison, 107 have gone on to physically or sexually abuse others. 78 current prisoners have claimed abuse or neglect, with another 76 waiting to be heard. In June of 2015, when the CLAS doors close/d, 1158 victim stories will have been heard.

5)      Victims have described the perpetrators of abuse as being "everywhere" including staff, social workers, cooks, gardeners, night watchmen, foster parents and grandfathers, teachers, nuns, priests, ministers and pastors.

6)      Other than this, little information is known. The New Zealand public, for the most part, remains completely unaware of what has been allowed to transpire in New Zealand State (government) run institutions.

7)      To date, the New Zealand Government denies systemic abuse and/or systemic failings. However, to date, that same government refuses to hold any form of public inquiry – and instead held an inquiry behind closed doors.

8)      In every country where institutional child abuse inquiries have been held, systemic abuse and systemic failings have been identified. And yet, the New Zealand Government would tell its citizens that somehow it is unique and that their institutions are the only institutions in the world where systemic abuse and/or systemic failings didn’t occur.

9)      To date, the New Zealand Government has failed to publicly acknowledge and/or publicly apologise for the abuse. This is in violation of New Zealand’s obligations to International human rights law where as a signatory party to the UN Convention Against Torture the New Zealand Government is responsible for “verification of the facts and full and public disclosure of the truth to the extent that such disclosure does not cause further harm or threaten the safety and interests of the victim” and “public apologies, including acknowledgement of the facts and acceptance of responsibility..”.(UNCAT General Comments No. 3, 2012)

10)   We would, as those abused as children, while in State institutions, call on the New Zealand Government to make publicly available the stories from the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (names of victims edited).

11)    We would, as those abused as children, while in State institutions, ask the New Zealand Government that if indeed systemic abuse and/or systemic failings didn’t occur in your institutions then why have you gone to such great lengths to ensure information from the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service remains suppressed/buried/hidden from public view?

Yours sincerely

Grant (NZ State‘Care’ Abuse Survivor/Human Rights Advocate)

Read more about the situation "New Zealand’s Approach to Institutional Child Abuse – a History of Cover Ups and Denial"  @ http://newzealandchildabuse.com/new-zealands-approach-to-institutional-child-abuse-a-history-of-cover-ups-and-denial/

 

 

 



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