The story has actually been bubbling along for quite some time below the surface – in 2009 the UN Committee Against Torture raised concerns about how New Zealand handled historic abuse claims. In 2011 the Human Rights Commission launched a review.
That review, which recommended a broader inquiry, was buried by Chris Finlayson. But there seems a large amount of consensus by those working in the sector that a wider inquiry is needed.
The Human Right Commission, and as well as former commissioners feel an inquiry is needed. The Race Relations Commissioner, The EEO Commissioner, the Iwi Leaders Forum and the Disability Rights Commissioner all co-signed an open letter published on Monday. Social justice advocate Kim Workman, who worked for nearly 20 years as a policeman and was once head of Corrections, has also signed the letter.
Anne Tolley says the now-defunct Listening Service did more good than an inquiry would. The judge who did that service disagrees.
Tolley also says the fast-track compensation scheme is providing restitution, but those who have received it said it was far too little and was a muzzle that they were railroaded into. Many of the survivors have limited literacy as a result of their terrible state care experience, so are befuddled by the lengthy legal letter they are sent to sign to get their compensation. They do not have highfalutin legal friends to explain it to them.
There seems like there is a lot to learn, and a lot that needs sunlight on it. The terrible discrimination that sees Maori as 60% of those in care (Canada is getting justice for children from First Nations forced into care). The high number of gang members, criminals and high profile murders who have come from state care. How much is the state responsible for crime? How many broken lives can we prevent in future? Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
As reported on RNZ:
Disability Rights commissioner, Paul Gibson, says the government would not need to start an inquiry from scratch, as a lot of the work had already been done. He said the inquiry would be an investment, and cost should not get in the way of justice.
A formal apology should also be part of the process. Thousands of lives ruined deserve nothing less, as well as the promise that this won’t happen to another generation.