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Our work programme

Design of a redress system

Improving support for survivors of abuse in care:

Providing records to the Royal Commission


The Crown Response Unit coordinates the Government’s response to the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry.(external link)(external link) 

The information below describes our current work programme as we respond to the Royal Commission's redress report(external link)(external link) published in December 2021 and its recommendations.

If you would like to stay up to date on our work programme, please email: contact@abuseinquiryresponse.govt.nz with 'Pānui' in the email subject line.

 

Our work programme

 

The Royal Commission’s findings and recommendations published in the December 2021 report on redress(external link)(external link) focused on transforming redress across four strands:

  1. the development of a new independent, trauma-informed redress system, puretumu torowhānui, to be designed through a collaborative process
  2. immediate projects to help improve survivors’ experience of redress with current processes
  3. consideration of civil litigation settings
  4. additional ways to prevent abuse, through a potential new right to be free from abuse and potentially expanding the focus of WorkSafe NZ.

The Minister for the Public Service proactively released Cabinet papers outling the Government's response:

  • December 2021 - Cabinet paper outlined the initial response to the Royal Commission’s redress report.
  • August 2022 - Cabinet paper outlined the Government’s phased response across the strands above with a focus on the immediate projects. The paper also notes ‘additional ways to prevent abuse’ will be reported back to Cabinet once the Royal Commission’s full recommendations are received in March 2024. This will ensure there is a joined-up consideration of the regulation and operation of care safety.
  • November 2022 - Cabinet paper described the process for developing the new redress design system.

Consideration of civil litigation settings (including both limitation and ACC bars) is led by the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (as the agency responsible for ACC policy).

 

Design of a redress system

 

The high-level design of the new redress system has been developed by a design group supported by an advisory group drawn from diverse survivor communities.  

The Redress Design Group has produced high-level design proposals and presented these to the Minister for the Public Service. The high-level proposals cover:

  • comment on the system’s intended principles, purpose, functions, and scope, with the option to outline a strong case for alteration to any of the specific aspects, especially from a Treaty perspective
  • how the system should safely connect with and support survivors to navigate their redress journey – how redress needs to “look and feel” to give survivors confidence in the redress system and to provide them with a safe, accessible, trauma informed, and culturally responsive experience
  • the types and mix of services and supports that should ideally be provided as part of each function
  • feedback on draft apology and payment frameworks, example redress models and proposals prepared by the Crown Response Unit, with a focus on what is needed to support meaningful recognition of the harms people have experienced
  • an outline of the critical issues that will need to be considered in the detailed design and implementation planning, including cost estimates and phasing of implementation.

Improving support for survivors of abuse in care

 

The government is working on three projects to improve support for survivors of abuse in care while a new independent redress system is being designed:

  1. rapid payments for claimants(external link)
  2. a listening service(external link)
  3. easier records access for survivors(external link)

Work is also underway on preparing a national apology to abuse in care survivors. 

This work is being coordinated by the Crown Response Unit and guided by previous engagement with survivors, including the views of hundreds of survivors that informed the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry’s interim report on redress(external link)(external link), released in December 2021.  Additional advice and guidance from survivors, experts and others will also be sought.

 

1. Rapid payments

 

On Tuesday 13 December 2022 the government announced the first set of rapid payments by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), which has about 3000 historic claims – more than 90 per cent of all the current historical claims being processed by four government agencies. The Ministry is prioritising rapid payments for survivors who are seriously ill or unwell, aged over 70, or have waited the longest to get their claims considered.

Rapid payments are not part of the new, independent redress system – they are being run by existing claims agencies, Ministry of Social Development, Oranga Tamariki, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health.

Budget 2023 funding allowed MSD to continue resolving historic claims while a new independent redress system is being established. The Government is investing $58.4 million in 2023/24 to resolve a further 1,000 claims of historic abuse of people while in the care of Child, Youth and Family (or its predecessors).

This funding will support both MSD's individual claims assessment process and the rapid payments process that was set up in response to the Royal Commission's recommendations. Since October 2022, over 75% of claimants who have identified their preferred settlement pathway have opted for a rapid payment.

To find out more please contact the Ministry of Social Development: 0800 631 127 or visit its website.(external link)(external link)

 

2. Survivor experiences service 

In response to the Royal Commission’s recommendation to provide an avenue for survivors to share their experiences of abuse in care the government established the Survivor Experiences Service(external link)(external link).

The service will run until a new, permanent redress system is in place.

The service is housed within Te Tari Taiwhenua – Department of Internal Affairs and will be guided by an independent Board to provide a safe, supportive, confidential place for survivors of abuse in care, and their whānau, to share their experiences.

Survivors and whānau can contact the Survivor Experiences Service to organise a time and place for them to share their experiences:

Visit Home | Survivor Experiences Service(external link)(external link) for more information.

3. Easier records access for survivors

The Royal Commission found that many survivors had difficulty accessing their records. The issues included lengthy delays; or getting incomplete or heavily redacted information.

Government officials are working with survivors and experts on some immediate improvements to how survivors access their records.

Shared redaction guidance [PDF, 206 KB] has been developed for agencies and non-state organisations to improve consistency when making redactions to records to be provided to individuals. The goal is to improve a person’s access to their own information, while being clear when information has been redacted to protect other’s privacy.

Online information has also been developed(external link) explaining the records and redactions process.

Organisations that have already indicated their intention to use the guidance include: Oranga Tamariki; Ministry of Social Development – Historic Claims Unit; Ministry of Education – Sensitive Claims; Ministry of Health, Whaikaha Ministry of Disabled People, and the Methodist Church Archives of New Zealand.

 

4. Preparing for a public apology

 

The Royal Commission recommended the Crown and relevant faith-based organisations should publicly acknowledge and apologise for the tūkino, or abuse, inflicted and suffered after it has delivered its final report. It also recommended some groups, including Māori who were over-represented in State care, should also receive specific apologies.  

The Crown Response Unit has started working on Crown apologies and is involving survivor groups, tikanga experts and representatives from other communities impacted by abuse in care.

Further recommendations relating to apologies may be made by the Royal Commission, and these will be carefully considered. 

 

Providing records to the Royal Commission

The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry has two primary information sources:

  1. the testimony of survivors and others involved in State and faith-based care
  2. records held by the Crown, churches and other organisations.

As part of our work, we coordinate responses to the Royal Commission's information requests on behalf of the Crown.

We work to find the agency holding the information needed and ensure they provide information on time and in a consistent way. We also help agencies compile their responses, identify all information that the Commission might need.

The Royal Commission makes requests of the Crown for historical records that it needs for the different investigations it has under way. The requests vary widely in scale, from a few documents held by a single agency to thousands of documents across many organisations.

The Crown also provides other information to the Royal Commission that may assist its work.

 

Older records

Archives New Zealand provides the Royal Commission with older records. Watch a video about how they provide older records: 

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