Why no inquiry into abuse in state care?

Written By: - Date published: 7:03 am, July 7th, 2017 - 14 comments
Categories: Ethics, human rights, national, uncategorized - Tags: , , , ,

This is long overdue and good to finally see:

Parliament apologises for homosexual convictions

Parliament has formally apologised to men convicted under old laws that criminalised homosexuality.

The rare apology from the House – rather than the Government itself – was moved by Justice Minister Amy Adams during the first reading of her bill to expunge these convictions.


But there are other historical wrongs that need righting.

Emotional rally fails to shift Govt position on state abuse inquiry and apology

The Government is unmoved on its position to not hold an inquiry into the abuse of children in state care following a petition and emotional rally on Parliament’s steps this afternoon.

A group of victims joined with the Human Rights Commission to deliver the 5300-signature petition at the Beehive today, urging the Government to reverse its position on a full public apology and an independent inquiry.

Between the 1950s and 1990s more than 100,000 children and vulnerable adults were taken from their families and placed in either children’s homes or mental health institutions.

While there, some suffered sexual, physical, and psychological abuse. It’s currently impossible to estimate the extent of the abuse, because it has never been subject to a full public investigation.

Some survivors agreed to speak out anonymously.

One said they still felt shame about what happened to them, and that the Government hadn’t tried to put things right.

“Bill English, you say that you don’t want the cost of a public inquiry like it cost Australia,” they said.

“However you and the National Government spend money on a flag change at a cost of $26 million, a display in Dubai cost $53m, a replacement ship Endeavour cost $500m, a fleet of cars cost $6m.

“I could go on. How much value do you place on a child?

“You have to address the past before you have a hope to change the future.”

See also: Former wards of state demand inquiry into state abuse (video).

Why refuse an inquiry? Why refuse to look in to this huge historical wrong, and learn form its mistakes? When some future government does, and tries to make right, today’s government will look as archaic and out of touch as the governments who made homosexuality a crime.

14 comments on “Why no inquiry into abuse in state care?”

  1. Philj 1

    Government position? No comment… Moving forward from here…. Top marks to Dame Susan Devonport for supporting an apology and independent inquiry into state/government neglect and worse.

  2. Keith 2

    The apology for criminalising homosexuality was easy, nothing National had to do but look all progressive and magnanimous, take the credit, no risk.

    Typically when it comes to the hard yards this spineless embarrasment of a government do nothing.

  3. Cinny 3

    My father is adopted, last month he discovered he had a half brother and went to meet him. It turns out dad and uncle had very very different upbringings, uncle was in state care the abuse he suffered as a result ruined at least a decade of his young life. Two amazing men, with such different upbringings as a result of where they were placed in the first years of their lives. Cried my eyes out when I heard of uncles suffering as a child

    I’d like to apologise to all of those people who suffered due to the neglect and abuse from being placed in state care, I’d also like to apologise for the lack empathy from the outgoing government.

    I’m sorry that you have suffered, it should not have happened and it should never happen again to any child or person. May an acknowledgement and solutions be found to ease your pain.

    • Johan 3.1

      To Cinny,
      What is the point of these apologies? Is this merely an exercise in trying to be politically correct in 2017, or a vote getting exercise. We seem to have very few independent inquiries these days. Too often we have the perpetrators of crime, our politicians, acting as their own investigators or police investigating their own misconducts. How fair a process is that?
      When does the compensation factor kick in, for years of abuse and loss of opportunities?

      • Cinny 3.1.1

        Nothing can take back what has been taken away, nothing.

        Yes there needs to be an inquiry, and very thorough one, the abusers need to be held accountable, not just the state, but the actual individuals who carried out the abuse.
        If there is not an inquiry, how can the government reassure that it won’t happen to others?
        They can’t, because it indicates if it does happen again, that they won’t do anything except offer money and empty apologies.

        Having been severely abused myself, I do understand, and I’m sorry it has happened to people, just like people who had no control over what happened to me have said they are sorry it happened to me.

        Sometimes it’s comforting to others to know they are not alone, and that others genuinely care and want action for the pain others have inflicted upon them.

        As for the politicians who are preventing the inquiry and instead are offering words and money to make up for the enormous suffering and abuse my uncle and others have been through in state care and are still going through, it would be illegal to state what I would like to do to them.

  4. jcuknz 4

    When I heard of this I thought ‘good’ but then ‘why does everybody want an inquiry?’
    Is it a genuine search for truth or simply kicking the can down the road or a stick to beat the government with?
    What with apologies for being a man and all the numerous apologies which come to us almost daily makes me wonder why?
    I say sorry at the time i realize I have done something wrong but years later?

    • BLiP 4.1

      Apologies are a good starting point. For them to be meaningful, however, a change in behaviour may be required in order to prevent the need for future apologies for the same thing. This is why genuine inquiries carried out with sufficient authority to ensure change, if required, are important. An inquiry helps examine the circumstances leading up to the regretful situation. Inquiries can identify procedures, policies, laws, behaviours and/or individuals who might require remedial action and/or removal. They can establish the extent of the harm caused and bolster the need to provide adequate compensation to ameliorate any harm and injustice suffered. Inquiries provide the space required for victims to tell the whole story rather than just those bits and pieces the MSM and authorities allow to be told. The list goes on. The fact that it may be “years later” before any action is taken and/or an apology delivered only exacerbates harm and delays prevention.

    • North 4.2

      You have no soul JugheadNZ. Which is lucky, had you been so randomly ill-fortuned as to be one of those kids. No soul to ravage. You can always trust a right wing pig to shit all over decency ! Another thing……it’s not all about YOU….. shithead !

  5. Rae 5

    Are we not talking about crimes here? Actual crimes. There have been many historical cases, some involving famous people (Rolf Harris) some involving people in positions of much trust (priests) and these have had their times in court. Surely, surely if there is the possibility or more likely, probability, of crimes having been committed, there is no choice in this matter. The police should be making a case now, it should have nothing to do with whether Ms Bennett or Ms Tolley want it to happen or not. Or maybe the police will be implicated somewhere in all of this.
    The government knows this as well as I do, as well as you do, they must not be allowed to sweep it under the rug. However, agonizing it might be to deal with this is the proper fashion it must be done.

  6. taiping 6

    It will not be done as it is simply not historical enough, not long ago enough for those in power now, the ones who did the abuse
    and also those who colluded to cover it up to keep their jobs are still alive and remember their own actions very well..

    so no inquiry will be done as the current institutions in NZ would be liable… and in a nation as small as NZ, everyone is involved. It involves people who you know as decent people now, nearly everyone

  7. Macro 7

    After beginning a career in computing and research I realized that I would much prefer to work with people, and so in the late 60’s early 70’s I began a career in social work.
    My first appointment was as a Social Work Trainee, working in the Wellington office of what was then the Child Welfare Division of the Education Department. NZ had then a piece of legislation that was regarded as world leading with respect to the care of children. In many ways it decriminalised acts by children up to the age of 17 years – which was at that time revolutionary.
    The problem – as with any piece of legislation was not in the Act so much as in the implementation (or lack of provision) by the State.
    As a wet behind the ears 22 year old, I was given the task of supervision of up to 110 boys. Around 50 of these boys were wards of the state, in the “care” of the then Porirua Hospital and “accommodated” alongside grown men in the infamous M8 – a locked ward from which they never saw the light of day. As they were “patients” of the mental hospital I effectively had no say in their day to day care nor of their future – that was up to the hospital and the treating psychiatrist, who at that time was under the impression that a good dose of shock treatment and sedation was all that was required. I was allocated 1 day per week to visit these boys and whilst I did what I could with regards the provision of small items – they had nowhere they could call their own private space – the weekly visit was one I came to dread, as I felt so powerless.
    Eventually after 3 years of rushing from one crisis to the next I came to the conclusion that I could no longer work in this field and changed to my eventual career of education.
    The intention of the legislation was good and in many instances young people were helped. However the state, as per usual with social services, provided far too little support. The situation is much the same today. The government does not want a form investigation because a formal investigation would reveal too much. Not only of the wrongs of the past, but also of the wrongs of today as well.

  8. jcuknz 8

    One can only feel sorry for ‘the government’ … left or right versions … faced with the expense of an inquiry certain to produce expensive solutions when the voters want more cake and circus and budget surpluses not defs.
    Everybody calling for more money but no more tax …. impossible irresponsibilty.
    I have never bothered about what tax I have to pay as being one of the fortunate ones, IMO, it is my duty to help those less fortunate …. but then I have always paid by PAYE so never saw it go … a brilliant move by Robert Muldoon way way back I gather. Around about the time when I started to earn enough to pay tax

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