Tolley needs to apologise

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, November 30th, 2016 - 34 comments
Categories: child abuse, child welfare, human rights - Tags: ,

Kim Hill had an astounding and outstanding interview with Anne Tolley this morning on RNZ.

The 7.30 news was delayed 12 minutes as Tolley evaded the fact that thousands of children were abused by the state in the 50s and 60s, and she refused to hold an inquiry into just how many thousands.

She also refused to apologise.

I’m not sure why – it’s not her or her government to blame, and it would give some sense of peace to the many victims to have those wrongs at least acknowledged by the state.  Instead she now really needs to apologise for her uncaring manner in this morning’s interview as well.

As to an inquiry – the judge who listened to 7 years of stories from victims was complaining her report was ignored in March; the Chief Human Rights Commissioner at the time of that report’s writing in 2011 was reported a week ago saying Chris Finlayson had shelved it; and it’s clear from the 1100 who have come forward that this was a widespread systemic problem, whose victims will have been left with a distrust of government (and the Social Development Ministry in particular), who need an independent inquiry to be willing to talk to it.

Instead they’re getting shut-up letters with small offers of compensation for waiving legal rights.

This widespread separation of children from their families (for a day’s wagging, or stealing a pencil), and subsequent placing in institutions that were effectively prisons (children left in cells with nothing, not even a mattress during the day), would be one of the major causes of our high level of incarceration today.  Especially among Maori, who made up to 80% of some Boys Homes.

This has been a topic of research that lead to Elizabeth Stanley’s recently published book The Road to Hell: State Violence against Children in Postwar New Zealand, but is surely something that needs an in-depth independent investigation to see how many victims there were, how we can make it right for them, what are the connections to modern societal ills, and how we can avoid such things ever happening again.

RNZ have done some fantastic work on this – especially worth reading the story covering Kim Hill’s interview this morning, which also includes Kathryn Ryan’s interview with a survivor of state care abuse; and the in-depth piece on just how bad the torture, how widespread the practice, why it developed and the massive implications it’s caused for contemporary society.

34 comments on “Tolley needs to apologise”

  1. Rosemary McDonald 1

    Aaron Smale’s work is brilliant. Truly.

    And I’ll forgive any number of past and future failings from Natrad on the strength of the work they did today.

    Anne Tolley apologise?

    Will she heck as like.

  2. Incognito 2

    “I think if you went to our female ministers, of which we’ve got a tremendous group of talent – from Paula to Amy to Judith, you name them, Hekia, Anne Tolley, there’s just a bunch of very talented women in there – they are there because they’re immensely talented. Yes, it’s great that they’re women, and I think there should be balance,” he said.

    John Key, Leader of the National Party of New Zealand

    John never apologises (well once, to he-who-shall-not-be-named) so why would Anne? It is not part of their natural “talents”. To be fair on Anne, it would not be a personal apology but one on behalf of the Government.

  3. james 3

    I agree it was a really good bit of work by RNZ.

    Not just tolley – who did a terrible job here. But any government in power (in this case the nats) should work to address the wrongs of the past.

    • Red Hand 3.1

      “address the wrongs of the pass” means notice that children were damaged by state employees who are so far nameless and help everyone “get over it” by offering a bribe of public money to sign up and shut up.

  4. D'Esterre 4

    An interview that exemplifies what we have the right to expect – but so seldom get – from journalists, whose job is to hold government ministers to account.

    Please come back to Morning Report on a permanent basis, Kim: all is forgiven, qu’ on dit….

  5. Rosie Bradbury 5

    I am an ex cypfs (in its many incarnations socialworker), Not only did the abuse happen, it was widely suspected AT THE TIME. I myself dropped kids off at boys homes of various ilks and used to be concerned by the uneducated louts (STAFF) whom I had to hand them over too. Ex service people, prison officers seeking an easier lag, etc., people with no knowledge of child development and little empathy with the kids. BUT – neither did their families.

    AND NO children were not incarcerated for stealing a pencil, often the crimes were such that in the adult court they would be gaoled still today for some years. All that said, the LARGE MISTAKE in my opinion then and still is the separation of children into two classes: those in need of care and protection, and those before the Youth Court. In fact ANY child before the court is by definition in need of care and protection.

    Still concerned about kids in care? Become a long term foster parent – we still desperately need them.

    • james 5.1

      “Become a long term foster parent – we still desperately need them.”

      There is a group that I agree need (and deserve) a lot more support from the government than they get.

      They do a hell of a job.

    • Rosemary McDonald 5.2

      “Still concerned about kids in care? Become a long term foster parent – we still desperately need them.”

      Been there, done that.

      Quit after 7 years of dealing with cyfs’ ‘dump and run and treat foster parents like morons’ culture. We eventually realised that we were inadvertently compounding the abuse of some of the children by enabling cyfs to delay making care plans and acting on them. Made a complaint to the Children’s Commissioner after daily phone calls to supervisor for nearly a month over child of legally undetermined status failed to result in even a care plan, never mind obeying the Judge. Supervisor told us off for ‘failing to communicate’. We couldn’t do what we were actually quite good at (providing emergency care) under those conditions.

      All that said…of the 60 odd kids who shared our home…ALL were taken into care for because they were at considerable risk, or had already experienced harm.

      Annoys and concerns me… the narrative that children are removed from their homes for specious reasons.

      • Shirley 5.2.1

        Thank you for your efforts on behalf of those children.

        Our society is such that people have children simply because they can, without thinking past the “joy of parenthood”, the thrill of feeling your baby move in the womb, etc. Many of them SUCK as parents and far too many of those don’t care that they are so abysmal.

        CYFS is far from perfect – I’ve worked with parents suing them for the wrongful removal of their children – but I’d be more worried if we didn’t remove children who might be in danger.

        God bless all foster parents, as well as those who genuinely try to help the children.

  6. RJL 6

    @Ben Clark
    “She also refused to apologise.

    I’m not sure why – it’s not her or her government to blame”

    I guess a formal apology en masse to victims might encourage other victims (of which there are surely many) to come forward and claim some sort of compensation.

    Which sounds like the sort of thing considered anathema to a “fiscally prudent” cabinet. Especially, if the victims are mostly poor and/or women.

    • AB 6.1

      +1
      My blood still boils over their determination to block compensation for the parents of intellectually disabled adults who look after their children at home. So no surprises here. Same pattern. Same negation of the very idea of collective responsibility.
      And Kim was incandescent. Reminded me of Gallery circa 1968/9

    • AmaKiwi 6.2

      Why won’t Tolley apologize? The coming election.

      With less than a year until the election this is “feel good, be happy” prime time. If it’s bad news, bury it, ignore it, deny it . . . anything to make it disappear.

      Staying in power is a public relations exercise divorced from inconvenient realities.

  7. Rosemary McDonald 7

    Oh, yes….

  8. Red Hand 8

    Early in the RNZ interview Tolley says people who spoke up “expected the state to look after them and it didn’t” and that she was happy to apologize on behalf of the state and has.
    The harrowing stories were about older children and state employees and she says nothing about bringing them to justice. No personal responsibility in that.

  9. Sacha 9

    Just listen. One of the best interviews I have ever heard in my life. Kim Hill honours and holds open the deep meaning of this topic while the (ir)responsible Minister tries to skate past it. Welli intellectual goddess slays Hawkes Bay dilettante. Brutal, yet necessary.

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    She also refused to apologise.

    I’m not sure why

    Because by doing so she would be admitting that the government was at fault and so open the way for compensation claims which this government is trying to prevent.

    Please note the difference of what happens when companies want recompense from the government – this government bends over real fast and gives it to them.

    • Yes i believe that Anne Tolley should Apologize to us and the Many of those that Committed Suicide as EX-STATE WARD VICTIMS and also to US and all those who Committed Suicide as the VICTIMS of the ANGLICAN SOCIAL SERVICES, ABUSES. My thanks Go’s out to the Late Mr Jordan of the ANGLICAN DEITY, AUCKLAND in the 1950s + 1960s +. From St johns Orphanage Foster homes, State Ward Boys homes. LIVES TOTALLY BROKEN AND SHATTERED..

  11. Dale 11

    Anyone that has seen Spotlight the movie can make their own conclusion. Government sponsored catholic homes for children.
    My father was raised in one in Masterton.
    It was hell on earth for children.

  12. jcuknz 12

    One of the side issues here is the wide difference between Tolley as a member of the Establishment and the rest in their thinking. The establishment trusts their officials while the rest rarely do. Of course she will be thanked profusely because after being subjected to the system they probably have learnt to be polite to authority. It is only the lucky ones who never got caught up in it that feel free to be critical of the establishment.

  13. Tricledrown 13

    Findlayson Tolley Key.
    All are trying trying to avoid govt responsibility.
    From the party of personal responsibility.

  14. Tricledrown 14

    Tolley said $17 million had been spent on settlements.
    Where as a full enquiry would find 100s of 1,000’s more cases would be exposed .

    • It’s also worth pointing out that a lot of people have probably given up their legal entitlements as part of this settlement process, and have potentially signed away their rights to many millions of additional dollars of settlements.

  15. You would think an independent inquiry that allows settled claimants to opt out would be the most sensible option. Listening to Tolley’s mental gymnastics on the subject and refusal to back up her opinions was frustrating enough for me, I can’t imagine how people who have actually been abused under the care of CYFS would feel.

  16. Rosemary McDonald 16

    While she’s at it…Tolley might want to explain how the Ministry of Social Denigration can pay compensation to a survivor of sexual abuse while in State care then penalise her for now having ‘cash assets’ that take her above the maximum allowed while on Supported Living Payment….(Invalid’s benefit in the good old days) to qualify for an Accommodation allowance.

    AND, AND, the Ministry can also punish her if she reduces that ‘cash asset’ (her compensation payment for being raped in the care of the State) by purchasing ‘frivolities’.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/85680547/compensation-for-abuse-in-state-care-hits-christchurch-victims-benefit

    “Information sent to her via email in September from MSD stated spending her compensation on outstanding accounts such as power, phone and car were deemed OK as “the payments made are for everyday purposes or reducing personal debt liability”.

    “I still think that actually, if I wanted to go buy a $15,000 ring I should be allowed to. This is money that’s meant to compensate for all the s… I’ve been through,” Jackie said”

    Unfuckingbelievable.

    • Treetop 16.1

      Sounds like John Miller lawyer in Wellington needs to look at this. Miller has had a lot of success with ACC.

      Perhaps this compensation is treated differently than were it an ACC payment. Not sure if accommodation supplement is affected under an ACC payout.

      A fix for this needs to be found.

      • Rosemary McDonald 16.1.1

        “Perhaps this compensation is treated differently than were it an ACC payment. Not sure if accommodation supplement is affected under an ACC payout.”

        The Supported Living Payment is means and asset tested. Other than ascertaining one’s weekly compensation (80% of earnings) no ACC supports are means or asset tested.

        It may well be that this lady’s treatment is funded by ACC, but if she was not working…she gets the SLP. It seems grossly unfair that her compensation (be it via ACC or more likely an ex gratia payment from the Gummint) is counted as an ‘asset’, especially under these circumstances.

        They are simply being arseholes.

  17. Treetop 17

    Tolley also needs to stop telling those who were abused how to feel about what the state has put them through. It seems to be interminable for some and the government can help survivours to heal, instead they are being hindered.

    An independent inquiry will help to expose what went on and how it was mishandled.

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